Informed consent for patients with learning disabilities

This article, Informed consent for blood tests in people with a learning disability was recently published in Journal of Advanced Nursing, Sep 2013, vol. 69, no. 9, p. 1966-1976, 0309-2402

Author(s): Goldsmith, Lesley; Woodward, Val; Jackson, Leigh; Skirton, Heather

Abstract: This article is a report of a study of informed consent in people with a learning disability. The aims of the study were to explore the information needs of people with mild-to-moderate learning disabilities with respect to consent for blood tests and to identify ways of facilitating informed consent.

Background. The recent political agenda for social change in the UK has emphasized the right of people with a learning disability to have more autonomy and make their own decisions. As in other countries, there has also been a shift towards shared decision-making in healthcare practice.

Design.  Qualitative study using an ethnographic approach.

Methods. An ethnographic approach was used for this qualitative study. Phase 1 involved observation of six participants with a learning disability having a routine blood test in general practice, followed by semi-structured interviews with 14 participants with a learning disability in Phase 2. Data were collected between February 2009-February 2010.

Findings. The data showed that consent procedures were often inadequate and provision of information to patients prior to a blood test was variable. People with a learning disability expressed clearly their information requirements when having a routine blood test; this included not wanting any information in some cases.

Conclusions. Healthcare practitioners and people with a learning disability need to be familiar with current consent law in their own country to facilitate valid consent in the healthcare context. This study demonstrated the value of qualitative research in exploring the knowledge and attitudes of people with learning disability.

Source: BNI

New addition to Horizon Scanning

The list of topics available on the Horizon Scanning page has just grown to 20.  The latest one to be included is Learning Disabilities which sends the latest information direct to your inbox.  Why not sign up and give it a try – subscription is FREE. Click here.

Sample feed includes:

Behavioural family therapy used to support system around person with learning disabilities and mental health needs by John Northfield

Studies have suggested a higher incidence of mental health problems in people with learning disabilities, although there are some differences in estimates, which have varied in studies looking at people with learning disabilities who also have a co-morbid psychiatric disorder from 14 to 39%. There is also evidence of increased likelihood of family members and […]
People with learning disabilities have faced a range of barriers when attempting to negotiate the legal system. Public law is complicated but this new guide hopes to provide clear, accurate advice in a range of areas, The guide, called ‘Know Your Rights’ has been broken down into six main themes: Housing Social and Health Care

CQC finds half of learning disability services did not meet essential standards   by John Northfield

Last year, the BBC  screened its secret filming at the Winterbourne view home in Bristol which showed shocking scenes of abuse. The subsequent inquiry led to arrests and convictions, but there were concerns that this was not an isolated incident. The care services minister stated his determination to strengthen safeguards and the Care Standards Commission […]

CQC Review: Learning Disabilities

Care Quality Commission (CQC)

Review of services for people with learning disabilities
The CQC has published a further 10 reports from a targeted programme of 150 unannounced inspections of hospitals and care homes that care for people with learning disabilities. The programme is looking at whether people experience safe and appropriate care, treatment and support and whether they are protected from abuse. A national report into the findings of the programme will be published later this year.

Health checks for people with learning disabilities

Overview: People with learning disabilities have poorer health than their non-disabled peers and evidence suggests that this is partly because of barriers associated with identifying ill health and ensuring timely access to healthcare services (Michael 2008).

Current advice: The Department of Health recommends that primary care services provide comprehensive annual health checks for people with learning disabilities using local or directly enhanced schemes. Local authorities should help to identify individuals who would benefit from, and would be eligible for, enhanced services.

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Health Matters tonight: 1 November

Health Matters, 1 November 2011

Health Matters public health lecture will take place tonight on 1 November 2011, from 7.00pm – 8.00pm, in the Lecture Theatre at the Education and Training Centre. The presentation entitled ‘Learning Disabilities’ will be presented by Andy Worth from Cheshire Wirral and Partnership.

Please note the Staff Library will be open if anyone wants to browse its facilities or would like assistance in locating reliable online resources to support this topic.

Book your place: Please call the Communications and Engagement Department to book a place on 01625 661560, freephone 0800 1954194 or email