Mencap’s Treat Me Well campaign began in February 2018 and aims to transform how the NHS treats people with a learning disability. The campaign is calling for reasonable adjustments to be made when treating patients with a learning disability in hospitals and giving them equal access to healthcare, to help save lives.
In September and October 2020, 116 families took part in a survey by Mencap to find out more about how children aged 0-5 with a learning disability and their families are treated in hospital. Following the survey, Mencap is focusing on children and making sure healthcare professionals, as well as families and children, have the information and resources they need to improve their hospital experiences.
I think Mencap’s Children’s Campaign is really needed. Children with a learning disability deserve equal healthcare and support like any other child. It’s also important that families are given reasonable adjustments by healthcare staff because if a child isn’t given the right support, they can find hospital experiences difficult.
Reasonable adjustments are things like easy-read documents, getting extra time at appointments and having a quiet place to wait. Having easy-read documents is essential because it helps explain things in a really simple way. Hospitals are really scary places, and this can help ease people’s anxiety. Small changes can make a big difference!
When I was younger, I was quite lucky to have had positive healthcare experiences despite being in and out of hospital a few times. I’ve always had great care, but back then my family and I didn’t know about reasonable adjustments.
As part of the Children’s Campaign, Mencap are calling for a disability coordinator role that supports families to find out what they can access outside of hospitals, and who will work with hospital staff to provide better support for children with a learning disability and their families. I welcome this as it means that families can then get access to reasonable adjustments and the right support. It’s a great call!
The disability coordinator would also be there to support people when they receive a diagnosis that their child has Down’s syndrome or a learning disability – much like the characters in the recent Emmerdale storyline on ITV, who weren’t shown to have this kind of support, and chose to have a termination. People should have the right to access proper healthcare, support and information to explain that termination isn’t the only direction to take and that there is support in place to help you throughout.
While the Treat Me Well campaign has helped people with a learning disability get better care in hospitals, there is still a long way to go.
To find out more about Mencap’s Treat Me Well campaign, visit: www.mencap.org.uk