Learning Disability Week 2020
This year’s Learning Disability Week took place last week (15-21 June), with a focus on the importance of friendships during lockdown.
For people with learning disabilities, the past few months have been particularly challenging, as they may have difficulties understanding why their lives have changed and why they cannot do the things they normally do, and most importantly, why they can’t see the people they normally see.
Mencap, the national learning disability charity, has created an excellent wide range of information tailored to people with learning disabilities, their families and their carers.
This includes guides on how to understand and implement the national restrictions, advice on shopping, how to keep safe and well, and so on. There is also a range of activities to keep busy, complete with activity planners. You can find out more on the Mencap website - https://www.mencap.org.uk/.
During the lockdown, many Learning Disability Services provided within Frimley Health and Care have continued to provide support to people through online social activities.
In Bracknell Forest, the Community Team for People with Learning Disabilities has been working with individuals with learning disabilities to ensure they remain connected to their friends and able to build new friendships, despite the restrictions in place due to Covid-19.
The team has set up weekly online video calls for two groups of people with learning disabilities to take part in a group activity together, encouraging everyone to remain connected and chat to their friends while trying out a new skill.
Towards the end of last week, one of the groups took part in their first virtual cookery session together.
In addition, they have a weekly email for people with learning disabilities, family carers and service providers which contain activity ideas for people to do at home. Currently on their 11th edition, emails range from exercise and fitness to keeping the brain active to arts and crafts.
For details of Learning Disability Services provided within Frimley Health and Care, visit either: Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (for North East Hampshire and Farnham and Surrey Heath) www.sabp.nhs.uk/our-services/learning-disabilities Or Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (for East Berkshire) www.berkshirehealthcare.nhs.uk/our-services/mental-health-and-wellbeing/learning-disabilities-ctpld/
How the service helps people - a real life example
Mr and Mrs L are in their sixties and have been known to the Carer Support and Dementia Advice Service for Hampshire since September 2017. Mrs L has a diagnosis of dementia and they have a son J who has learning disabilities. J is no longer able to live at home due to his violent behaviour so now lives in a residential placement where Mr and Mrs L visit weekly. Mr L is the primary carer for both his wife and son.
During COVID-19 anxieties have been heightened and Mr and Mrs L have been restricted to seeing their son only through the window at his residence.
Throughout this difficult period we have been able to carry out welfare checks via telephone and email to Mr and Mrs L to ensure they have a listening ear and receive the appropriate emotional support.
We have also been able to encourage Mr L to join several online carer support groups which has helped him share his thoughts and feelings with other carers and reduce their social isolation and loneliness.
When this hasn't been possible to access groups at set times we have signposted to online support forums which Mr L can access at anytime. Mr L was keen to have access to some online activities and puzzles that he could send to his son and that they could do together virtually.
This was something we were able to help source so that Mr L was still able to connect with his son in a different way at such a pivotal time.