Improving care for people with diabetes and a learning disability

A team based at the University of Leeds has produced a set of evidence-based, practical resources to help commissioners and practitioners improve the diabetes care offered to people with a learning disability.

The development of the resources was funded by the Health Foundation and the University of Leeds. The team worked with people with a learning disability, clinical practitioners, commissioners and charities including Diabetes UK, Mencap, and the Down’s Syndrome Association.

The resources provide a step by step guide to service improvement – providing advice on how to identify people with diabetes and a learning disability, how to making adaptations to services and how to plan new services for people with diabetes and a learning disability. They include an Easy Read guide for people with Type 2 diabetes and a learning disability

Why have the resources been made?

People with a learning disability are more likely to have Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes than the general population. We also know that people with a learning disability are:

    • more likely to be obese than the general population.
    • have lower levels of physical activity

Obesity and low levels of physical activity significantly increase the risk of diabetes.

People with a learning disability often experience barriers to accessing and engaging with mainstream diabetes services. Some people with a learning disability may also have mental health problems, behaviour that challenges and characteristics associated with autism that may provide additional challenges to engagement.

Under the Equality Act 2010 service providers are required to make reasonable adjustments to care to take account of these factors, but many healthcare providers do not feel sufficiently informed or confident to make the necessary changes.

Who are the resources for?

All staff working in healthcare can make an important difference to the health and lives of people with a learning disability. In particular, the new resources provide a practical guide on how those commissioning, planning and delivering diabetes services can meet legal obligations to provide care that meets the extra needs of people with a learning disability.

Where can I find the resources?

You can find the resources on Diabetes UK’s shared practice page, www.diabetes.org.uk/learning-disability

Let us know what you think of the resources on twitter using #RA2Diabetes

If you would like further information on the resources, please contact the team at: medrema@leeds.ac.uk.