Caring for someone with a learning disability can be very rewarding, but also challenging. It is important that someone with a learning disability receives the care they need, whether this is through at-home care, or care from a friend or relative.
In this article we are going to talk about how to care for someone with a learning disability. This includes tips on finding the right learning disabilities care plan, how to manage challenging behaviour (a possible symptom of learning disabilities) and information about important services for people with learning disabilities.
Finding care for someone with a learning disability
First of all, it is important to make sure a friend or relative with a learning disability is receiving the care that they need. Figuring out the needs and preferences of your friend, relative or colleague with a learning disability will help them to get support, and improve their quality of life. Discovering what someone with a learning disability can do by themself is also important as it allows people to live as independently as possible.
After finding out about your loved one’s care preferences, you can help them to find the care plan that suits them. Curam makes it quick and easy to find a carer that suits a client’s needs, routine and lifestyle.
How to manage challenging behaviour for learning disabilities
Challenging behaviour can include actions such as hitting, kicking, head banging, throwing, spitting or self-injury. It can be upsetting and stressful to see a loved one behaving this way, but it is important to remember that most of the time, when someone is behaving aggressively, they are in pain or in need of something. People with severe learning disabilities may find it hard to vocalise their needs.
Therefore, the first step to managing challenging behaviour is trying to understand the reason behind the behaviour, so that you can help the person with a learning disability to cope with their discomfort or anxiety. It is possible to manage challenging behaviour by:
· Asking yourself if the person could be bored or in pain?
· Offering another way of communicating when someone is in pain, bored or uncomfortable. (This could include a sign or card they show you).
· Making a record of the behaviour and figuring out if there is a reason or trigger for it that you could be aware of next time.
· If the situation is safe, and the person is not in danger or pain, try distracting them from their distress:
· Make them a drink or snack
· Put on the TV or music
· Tell them to follow you to another room
You should ask your GP or a healthcare professional about challenging behaviour to get further, person-oriented advice.
Important things to know about when caring for someone with a learning disability
When caring for someone with a learning disability, it is important to be aware of what someone with a learning disability should be doing to protect their health, and get the support that they need to improve their quality of life. Carers can help people with learning disabilities to keep on top of medical appointments, social services meetings and assessments. Here are a few things it is useful to know about:
· Annual health checks
· Reasonable adjustments
· Care assessments
· Support services
· Carer’s assessment
Annual health checks for people with learning disabilities
People with a learning disabilities may have poorer health than others. Anyone with a learning disability and over the age of 14 should go for an annual health check. It is a free medical appointment, and someone should go even if they are feeling perfectly well. It will prevent someone from developing a serious health condition and help them to maintain good health.
Check with your GP whether you are registered for an annual health check. During the health check they will do various activities (check blood pressure, weight, urine samples). They will also talk to you about any other problems you have been experiencing, and discuss any medication or therapies you are using.
Reasonable adjustments for people with learning disabilities
If someone needs a GP or healthcare professional to change the way they are doing something to make it easier for them, this is called a reasonable adjustment. People are legally required to make these adjustments when asked to. Reasonable adjustments for people with learning disabilities could include:
· Utilising pictures, larger font or more simple language.
· Organising a longer appointment for someone.
· Making an appointment when the waiting room isn’t as busy at a surgery or health centre.
Care needs assessments for people with learning disabilities
People from the ages of 0-25 with special education needs and disabilities must receive a care needs assessment and care plan from health, education and social care services. Care needs assessments and care plans are also available to adults above the age of 25. If you think you or your child has an undiagnosed condition talk to your GP.
Carer’s assessment for carers of people with learning disabilities
It is possible to get a carer’s assessment to assess the impact that caring has on a carer’s life. This can help carers and their loved ones to receive support and sometimes funding to help them with their needs.
Support for people with learning disabilities
You many know a family member or friend who has a learning disability and needs care or support. Here at Curam we want to support you as best as we can by allowing you to choose the right carer and care type for you or your loved one.
There are other places you can go to find additional support and get in touch with people who are going through a similar situation:
· Call the Mencap Learning Disability Helpline - 0808 808 1111
· Find local learning disabilities services on the NHS.
· These apps can help people with a learning disability.
Support for carers of people with learning disabilities
Curam is creating a better care community. We understand that carers are highly skilled professionals with expertise and experience that is invaluable for our clients.
Moreover, it is important that carers receive the support and help that they need. Introducing a personal assistant into a family’s life can give people the time they need to look after themselves whilst helping their loved ones receive the support they require. Here are a couple of places you can go for further support:
· Get in touch with the Carers trust.
· Consider respite care and other carer options with Curam.