More than 1000 people aged 18 and over in South Gloucestershire are believed to have a moderate or severe learning disability.
People with a learning disability often have poorer physical and mental health than those without a learning disability, and also have a lower life expectancy. Annual health checks are carried out by a GP or a nurse, and are available to people with a learning disability for a number of reasons:
to improve the early detection rates of certain health conditions, such as cancer and heart disease,
to check that any ongoing treatments are appropriate,
to help people become more familiar with their GP, and feel more able to let them know if something doesn't feel right.
To help people with a learning disability, their loved ones, and carers make the most of the annual health check, we created a checklist to help people recognise when things aren’t right, know how to keep healthy, and feel confident speaking up and seeking help. You can download the checklist below.
Since we published the checklist, it has been shared with the South Gloucestershire Learning Disability Team, and learning disability leads in GP practices. It has also been handed out by The Hive Avon, who run training, life skills workshops, and support groups for people with learning disabilities and autism, and their parents and carers.
Dr Juliane Matthies, a GP Partner at The Orchard Medical Centre – who have begun using the checklist – said the checklist is particularly helpful when a patient is able to fill it out before their appointment, giving the nurse conducting the health check the opportunity to pick up on anything that has been raised ahead of time.
Speaking to the BBC in June 2021, Healthwatch Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Area Manager, Vicky Marriott, said: "we recently listened to people with learning disabilities and their families and developed with them an accessible info-sheet packed full of easy-to-read explanations about the lifesaving benefits of annual health checks."