Click here to skip to content

Welfare Reform on the Web (September 2008): Mental health services - UK

Access to palliative care services by people with learning disabilities: is there equity?

I. Tuffrey-Wijne, L. Curfs and S. Hollins

Advances in Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, vol. 2, June 2008, p. 42-48

This paper explores access to palliative care services by people with learning disabilities who are terminally ill. It is based on a study of specialist palliative care professionals in London, involving 32 semi-structured interviews and 543 postal questionnaires. Results indicate that palliative care is under-used by this group. Reasons for low referral rates remain largely unclear, but are likely to include late diagnosis, a lack of understanding by both learning disability services and palliative care services about what each has to offer, and a lack of appreciation of the importance of collaboration.

Equality and access to human rights for people with both learning disability and mental illness needs

A. Lawson and others

Advances in Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, vol. 2, June 2008, p. 3-8

This paper seeks to show that people with learning disabilities and a mental illness have specific support needs if they are to access services. The UK's policy goals, institutional architecture and service frameworks for people with disabilities have been set in the context of global (United Nations) and European (EU) advances. This study examines the impact of these structures on people with a dual diagnosis of learning disability and mental illness.

Inter-relationships between hearing impairment, learning disability services and mental health: are learning disability services 'deaf' to hearing impairments?

H. Miller and R. Kiani

Advances in Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, vol. 2, June 2008, p. 25-30

Hearing impairments are quite common in people with learning disabilities, but remain largely undetected by carers and professionals. Their presentations may be mistaken for dementia, depression, challenging behaviour or autism. Most professionals lack confidence and expertise in assessment and management of a co-morbid mental illness and/or autistic spectrum disorder in those who have both learning disabilities and hearing impairments, and there are not enough specialist services to meet the needs of these users. There are also constant challenges in staff recruitment, maintenance and training, as services are established as a result of the enthusiasm of a few individuals locally rather than as part of national planning. Multidisciplinary services are required for the early recognition of the complex physical and psychosocial needs of hearing-impaired people with learning disabilities and for the provision of access to practical support.

The pathway to recovery

Healthcare Commission

London: 2008

This review of mental health inpatient services found that:

  • Nearly a quarter of mental health inpatient beds are in trusts rated as weak by inspectors
  • Every trust was rated as weak for training staff to deal with patients addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • Nearly half scored weak or fair for bed occupancy
  • A fifth of trusts were deemed to have weak infrastructures for promoting safety, and the vast majority scored weak or fair for levels of violence.

In sum, a focus on strengthening community services has led to acute inpatient wards not receiving the attention they need. Primary care trusts were found to be taking little interest in improving matters, with only 18% saying that commissioners regularly attended meetings of acute care forums.

Under the radar

K. McIntosh

Health Service Journal, Aug. 7th 2008, p. 20-21

The older black and minority ethnic (BME) population of the UK is growing fast and is expected to increase by 170% between 2005 and 2012. However health service commissioners are failing to pick up on the needs of older BME people with mental health problems. The NHS should use the experience of voluntary groups and older people themselves in shaping services.

Search Welfare Reform on the Web