Patients with learning disabilities are benefitting from a new approach to helping them cope with coming into hospital.
Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has introduced a new Hospital Passport and recruited a learning disability hospital liaison nurse, Lisa Cooper as part of an overall move to further improve care for this vulnerable group of patients.
Jeannette Davidson, Tameside’s Development Support Nurse, said: “Both the introduction of the Hospital Passport and Lisa’s recruitment are part of a move to ensure this hospital offers individualised care, maintaining the dignity of our patients throughout and ensuring we offer equal access to services for patients with a learning disability.”
The Hospital Passport is a specially designed document which is filled in by the patient and the patient’s carer and uses the universal traffic light system of red, amber and green to prioritise information.
The patient brings the passport into hospital, enabling staff to quickly see the things they need to know – such as who the main carer is, details of medication the patient is taking, together with the patient’s current diagnosis and condition – as well as the things that are really helpful to know, such as how the patient communicates pain or discomfort, sleep patterns, plus general likes and dislikes.
It also contains a comprehensive discharge section which is filled in by staff before the patient leaves hospital.
“This is a very important piece of work which, coupled with the recruitment of Lisa, is set to be hugely beneficial in the months and years ahead for patients with a learning disability.”
Lisa, who previously worked in social care, said her new role was a dream job for her.
“It’s a very exciting role which encompasses both nursing and care coordination. I think it’s great that Tameside Hospital have taken such a forward thinking approach to ensuring people with learning disabilities receive the very best possible care.
“A planned admission to hospital can make most people nervous, but for someone with learning disabilities, it can go beyond that. As such, my role is to start work with the patient weeks, or even months, before their admission and work with them right the way through, hopefully smoothing the way and ensuring they have a better experience as a consequence.”
As well as helping to prepare patients for coming into hospital, Lisa also works with them during their stay.
“People with learning disabilities can lose skills very quickly. Two weeks of being bed bound may not seem a long period of time to most people, but it can be an awfully long time to someone with learning disabilities, so I work with them during their stay to ensure that where possible, those skills are maintained.”
And that stance has been warmly welcomed by Michael Adams, the Service User Co-chair of the Tameside Learning Disability Partnership Board Health Sub Group.
Michael, who himself has a learning disability, said: “I think the passports are a brilliant idea and will really help people get the care they need. I have been telling my friends all about them and I’m glad that there is someone available now to help people when they go into hospital.”
Lisa is now urging carers and GPs who feel they know someone or are treating someone who could benefit from the new approach to contact her on 0161 342 5170 or email her firstname.lastname@example.org