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Health passport launched for children with learning disabilities

Developed by ELHT, NHS Blackburn with Darwen and NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), the Health and Wellbeing Passport can help doctors and nurses who care for children and young people with learning disabilities and/or complex needs know more about the patient, providing a better understanding of the support they require. This makes a visit to the hospital less stressful for child or young person with learning disabilities, as they can find this more emotionally distressing than others.

The passport, in the format of a colourful and informative booklet, is designed to offer additional information that can benefit a child’s care. This includes their likes and dislikes, how they communicate and how to reassure them. The booklet will support the child or young person’s clinical records and will ensure the child or young person doesn’t have to repeat their history several times, making life easier for them.

The clinical staff will have to hand all the information required to care for the child/young person, especially if there is no parent or carer available.

Julie Clift, Learning Disabilities Nurse at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We know that young people experience the same difficulties making their voices heard when accessing health services, so it is essential that staff take time to read the patient's passport.

“The information can be vital in ensuring we provide the best patient centred care and this can have a significant effect on both the patients experience in hospital and the effectiveness of the care and treatment we provide.”

The hospital passport will also include an ‘About Me’ card that informs anyone young people with a learning disability come into contact with on a day to day basis that they may need further assistance. This will allow both children and young people to go about their everyday life without feeling frustrated or embarrassed due to the lack of understanding and awareness that people they come into contact with have regarding their learning disability.

The passport and about me card empower the young person to be more independent and improve the communication between the patient and the carer.

Jeanette Pearson, Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Commissioning Manager for both NHS Blackburn with Darwen and NHS East Lancashire CCGs, said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to roll this new exciting initiative out and hope it will make a big difference to our children and young people's hospital experience.

“The hospital passport and ‘About Me’ cards both assist with communication and will help eliminate embarrassment and misunderstanding between patient and clinician.”

The passports are currently being distributed via the local community children and young people’s mental health teams, and at both the Royal Blackburn Hospital and Burnley General hospitals.