I have just started a short research placement where the aim of the project is to raise awareness about Annual Health Checks for individuals with learning disabilities. The research process will include focus groups and participant interviews etc but I just wondered as a starting point if anyone had any views or ideas to share based on their experiences as to why individuals may not attend annual checks and/or any of the incorrect myths surrounding the process of attaining and having such a check?
We had a Health project for two years until 2018 focussing on Annual Health Checks and we found several reasons why people didn’t attend. Firstly there was the obvious one that many people just didn’t know about the AHCs and didn’t understand the letters when they came through or where scared, thinking that there was something wrong with them, so they binned the letters. Then there is the problem that no one has successfully linked care agencies to the need for support to attend AHCs, and support for helping people to get to them never appears on Care Plans. So many people have very few hours of support and are constantly getting their care packages cut but no one thinks that they might need coordinated support to attend their AHC. I ran a local health group and only succeeded in getting one care provider to attend and the CCG never came, so I gave up in the end because, if your CCG isn’t supporting the local voluntary sector to help raise awareness and get people to their AHCs, then you are hitting your head against a brick wall. Local Authority Commissioning also needs to get behind the checks and make sure people have what they need to attend and also help to do things like urine samples and attend follow-up appointments et. None of our local authorities are interested in supporting the work. Some of the surgeries were also just running the checks with healthcare assistants rather than a qualified nurse and with time from the GP. One lady had to have a 24 hour blood pressure monitor and would never have managed it, if it weren’t for our Family Adviser helping her to understand about it and how to keep it on because she was so nervous about it. Some surgeries didn’t know that they were supposed to do a health plan after the check, It was such a broad spread of poor understanding amongst GPs about what people with LD & Autism could manage and what they couldn’t. Also we have lots of elderly carers who didn’t know about the checks as well so it was another big job getting the word out to them too. Your CCG and La need to be on board for it to work properly. And don’
t get me started on screening.
We are just finishing a project on increasing the uptake of health checks with a particular focus on workforce. The project was joint with Learning Disability England, Skills for Care and VODG. It included a survey and focus grps and we did look at the barriers. The report is not published yet so I can’t share it but we have published some resources here: https://www.ndti.org.uk/resources/health-check-resources-guides
Am happy to have a chat with you if helpful.
Thank you so much for the taking the time to reply. It’s really eye-opening to hear about such experiences; especially the many points surrounding the awareness of the checks themselves by care providers and the lack of support one may have in attending the check. This has given an insight in to the realities of the process so thank you.
This is fantastic, thank you so much for sending the link over. I really would love to have a chat in more detail with you if you have time, thanks so much. I think I’ve worked out how to private message on here so I’ll send you my email details over.