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Do general nurses understand the needs of people with learning disabilities?

  • Comments (1)
  • Article: Making the right decisions for people with learning disabilities in hospital. Nursing Times; 107: 3,12-14
  • Author: Picton A

Key points

  • The principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 should be followed by all staff caring for people who may lack capacity to make healthcare decisions
  • Many people with learning disabilities can make healthcare decisions with support, such as the use of simple language and pictures, to communicate
  • A mental capacity assessment must be carried out to determine whether individuals have the capacity to make adecision, and before any decisions can be made on their behalf
  • The nurse or doctor is usually responsible for best-interests decisions, with input from patients’ families and carers
  • Health professionals should try to limit restrictions on patients’ families and carers
  • Health professinals shoult try to limit restrictions on patients’ rights nad freedoms y avoiding any form of restraint, unless it is in the patients’ best interests

Let’s discuss

  • Do general nurses understand the needs of people with learning disabilities when they are admitted to hospital with health problems?
  • In your experience, are people with learning disabilities are involved in decisions about medical treatment?
  • How would you assess whether a patient with learning disabilities has the capacity to make a decision about their medical treatment?
  • How would you explain a best interest decision to relatives and carers?

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  • Comments (1)

Readers' comments (1)

  • "Do general nurses understand the needs of people with learning disabilities when they are admitted to hospital with health problems?"

    To a limited extent, yes. But should we really be expected to know more? How much exactly should we know? We are not specialists in the area, we are adult Nurses, and that is what RNLD's are for. There is a reason there are specialities within Nursing. I know in the next couple of years or so there are plans to meld the training into just general Nursing so there are no branches until qualifying, but in my mind this is a big mistake. No one professional can know everything!

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