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Learning Disabilities
LD Week

Learning Disabilities

Do you have a Learning Disability or know someone who does?

Please contact Helen Filmer, our Learning Disability Liaison Nurse on 01322 428865 or helen.filmer@nhs.net.

Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust is working with the local District Partnership Groups to promote a better patient experience for people with a learning disability.



At Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust in order to ensure that people with learning disabilities have equality of access and care a decision was made to appoint a learning disability lead to oversee this. Regular meetings have been set up between the acute Trust and members of the Social Services Learning Disability Team in the Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley area. They include a speech and language therapist, learning disability nurses, care managers and team leaders. Representing the Trust is the Director of Nursing and the learning disability lead. There is also the opportunity for the team to feed back on client admissions to DVH and how staff managed the care of people with a learning disability. In recent months there has been some really positive feedback from this group.

As a result of setting this group up the learning disability lead now attends the local District Partnership Groups (DPG) in Dartford and Gravesend. Through attendance at this group the community key workers have been given the contact number and email address for the learning disability lead. Therefore the carers have open access to inform the learning disability lead when a client is admitted/needs an out patient appointment at DVH. This enables the Trust lead to be more proactive when a patient with a learning disability attends the hospital. The lead will inform the relevant department head to ensure staff know there is a person with a learning disability attending/in their area who may require additional support. This support may be through the provision of extra care and if this is required following an assessment (Working Together document) this is paid for by the Trust. At DPG meetings the service users/carers have the opportunity to feed back on recent trips/admissions to DVH and discussions take place about what went right and what we could improve. 


The Trust is raising awareness of the needs of people with a learning disability through specialist training and as a result our staff are learning how to recognise challenging behaviour, how to respond to our patients when this happens, but most importantly, how to ensure that people with learning disabilities have an improved experience throughout their hospital stay.


The learning disability lead is also working with members of the DPG’s to provide ‘easy read’ patient information sheets/folders to improve information sharing about patients conditions etc. The Trust has a large number of easy read information sheets accessible on the website. In addition, the lead has put in a capital bid for Capital bid for clipart easy read   to ensure Trust information sheets are in reality easy to read. All new easy read format information sheets will be presented to the DPG’s for assurance that members are happy that they are easy to read. Thereafter the information sheets will be ratified at the Patient Information Group.

Current outcomes include:

  • Monitoring the numbers of patients with a learning disability which will be incorporated in the annual equality and diversity report to the Board which will evidence that the Trust is committed to improving the patient pathway

  • The Hospital Passport (currently being printed) which is ‘owned’ by the patient and which details what the patients likes to eat, be called and so on. This will improve the patient pathway as our staff will know so much more about the patients’ abilities and limitations
  • Provision of resource folders for staff as a result of meetings with DPG’s – included in the file – basic information about challenging behaviours, RCN guidance of meeting the health needs of people with learning disabilities, death by indifference report and helpful hints when caring for a patient with a learning disability to name but a few
  • Easy read questionnaire to be left at DPG offices – report of results to be presented to the Board in December. 


The Trust has welcomed the excellent working relationships it has developed with the DPG’s which evidence has shown has enhanced and improved the hospital experience for patients with a learning disability. The Trust will continue to work closely with the DPG’s to provide high quality care and equal access to Trust services for all, but, continue to be proactive in ensuring the patient pathway experience for people with a learning disability is achieved.

Further information

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