24/10/2018 | Press releases

Annual health checks for young people with learning disabilities

Parents and carers of young people aged from 14 to 25 with learning disabilities are being encouraged to make sure they undergo an annual health check with their GP.

Annual health checks can help ensure they stay fit and enjoy good mental wellbeing, as well as identifying any problems early so they can be treated more quickly.

Every parent or carer of a young person aged 14-25 with a learning disability is being encouraged to make them an appointment for a free, yearly health check at their local surgery.

The check offers a thorough assessment of their wellbeing including checking weight, heart and blood pressure and taking blood and urine samples.

There will be an opportunity to check on any ongoing health issues, such as diabetes or asthma, as well as talk over any physical or mental wellbeing concerns, so they can be referred to other organisations for help and support.

Dr Imaad Khalid, GP lead for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) for the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

The detection of potential health problems early helps to prevent longer term issues.

By supporting good health in our young people we are giving them the very best chance to live healthy adult lives. An annual health check is an important mechanism for this to be achieved.

Dr Rosalind Tandy, GP Mental Health Lead for the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

While these annual health checks are entirely voluntary, I do hope that we can encourage more young people to access this annual assessment.

GP practice staff have received specific learning disability training and they will give whatever support they can, such as by offering an appointment at the beginning or end of the day to avoid a busy waiting room and by using simple language or easy read documents.

A spokesperson for Suffolk Parent Carer Network said:

Annual health checks, when done well, are a good way for our young people to learn about their own health, how to stay well and what to look out for, and expect, when they aren’t well.

As people with learning disabilities are currently dying, on average, up to 29 years younger than the rest of us, these health checks will go a long way to improving the healthcare they need.

GP practices issue annual invitations to participate in health checks, which are available for people of all ages with learning disabilities, but appointments can be booked at any time.

Young people from the Papworth Trust in Ipswich helped design a set of online resources aimed at helping over-14s with learning disabilities understand why they should attend an annual health check.

One of the youngsters, Max, said:

It’s important to have annual health checks to make sure you’re healthy and have lots of energy to do sports.

Another, Sabastian, added:

It’s important to have health checks to make sure you are ok and not feeling unwell. When you dance and plat sports you need a lot of energy to put into the performance.

The online resources can be accessed on the Suffolk Local Offer website here.

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