Diabetes education for adults with learning disabilities: addressing the inequalities

Dr Maria Truesdale and Dr Laurence Taggart (Ulster)

Health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities (LD) is a critically important issue for primary and secondary healthcare services. Although health inequalities are, to an extent avoidable, it is evident that existing patterns of healthcare provision are insufficient and likely to be in contravention of legal requirements under the Disability Discrimination Acts 1995 and 2005 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s policies (Equal Lives, DHSSPS, 2005) and guidance (LD Service Framework, DHSSPS, 2012) have emphasised the central role of mainstream health services in meeting the health needs of this population. Understanding the determinants of health inequalities helps identify potential solutions including: making ‘reasonable adjustments’ in all areas of health promotion and healthcare in light of the specific needs of this population and acting within the legal framework of the Mental Capacity Act (2005). This seminar discusses how a national self-management Type 2 diabetes education programme (DESMOND) was adapted for adults with a LD (DESMOND-ID). It illustrates how making reasonable adjustments can support these individuals to increase their knowledge and understanding of diabetes resulting in better self-management and improved glycaemic control with the support of their family and/or paid carer.

Policy Briefing