A trio of Health Facilitators have made a real impact in the region over the last year, supporting adults with learning disabilities.
As part of Learning Disability Week which launched on Monday, Gail Adams, Lesley Robinson and Linda McCormick are looking to build on a successful first year helping people within Dumfries and Galloway.
Shirley Jackson is Team Leader in NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s Learning Disabilities Service, and she said: “I couldn’t be more proud of the service which is being delivered, and the real difference it has made to the lives of people within the region.
“This is a new service which has seen our three Health Facilitators go out into communities and promote initiatives such as Health Passports, health checks, Easy Read documents and a health screening programme for people with learning disabilities.
“But we want to go further and reach other people, highlighting the fact that adults and their families can make direct referrals to our service.”
Shirley added: “Research tells us that people with learning disabilities have some of the poorest health in Scotland. The Scottish Government Strategy
‘The Keys to Life’ focuses on improving the health of people with learning disabilities and highlights the importance of annual health checks and accessing screening programmes. Studies of annual health checks have shown benefits in disease detection and health promotion.
“So we’re pressing on in our work to promote access to healthcare and reduce health inequalities.
“I think it’s a very important part of the Health Facilitator role to have direct contact with people and provide information about screening programmes, offer them a basic health check and then provide support if required.”
Health facilitation is about assisting people to access services, and also to help those working in the healthcare system to develop their knowledge and understanding.
Linda McCormick said: “There definitely was a gap before this service launched, but now we’re going out and looking at bowel screening, breast screenings, BMIs and a lot of promotion work.
“And we’ve had a lot of good feedback from other professionals to say the work has really supported people in going through their journey, and in different things like attending the dentist or GPs.
“It’s about giving that person the best possible experience, and supporting them through it step-by-step; the benefits are unbelievable.”
Lesley Robinson said: “We’re encouraging people to go to screenings. Some people don’t understand what it’s about, so we give them some Easy Read information, and you usually find that people want to have it when it’s been explained in that way.
“The Health Passport has also been a big success. It belongs to the person and it means when someone goes to see a GP, a dentist or any health professional it gives them a good written understanding of what’s the best way to support you. So if you have communication difficulties or are finding it stressful, they should be able to look at that passport and understand immediately.
“We’re encouraging people to take their Health Passports to all their appointments; we want health professionals to be expecting to see that passport.”
Anyone can refer themselves or a family member to the Learning Disabilities Service, so long as the adult being referred has been diagnosed with a learning disability.
For more information, contact NHS Learning Disabilities Service on 01387 244244.