June started with a highlight event as I attended a meeting of the Learning Disability Partnership Board at Ewood Park. This was a very well attended event with people with learning disabilities and their carers present in great numbers. Discussions were held with representatives from the Council and the NHS around the work of the board, last year’s Action Plan, and how this could be more effective in the year ahead.
It was encouraging to hear directly from people about their experience of using services of getting a job and being more included in general activities in the town. In the feedback about the work of the health sub group of the board there were comments about the need for:
- Greater recognition of the ‘Passport’ that many people carry to help explain their needs to health professionals
- Simpler communications whether this is letters from people in the NHS or documents such as the Chose and Book paperwork
- Simpler access to GPs and services such as repeat prescriptions making appointments checking in on arrival and getting results
- Integrated services so that a changed prescription recommended by a consultant does not take two weeks to get to the patient
There are a significant group of people with a learning disability who are willing to get involved in initiatives to improve services. We should accept their help and advice as well as that of their carers and family members as this will help us to improve the quality of response people get when they approach services.
There have also been events involving volunteers and carers. The first two weeks in June presented opportunities to focus on the important contribution volunteers and carers make in our community. I called in to the library to look at the displays of organisations who were seeking volunteers. There was a wide variety, and the number of people talking about being a volunteer was very impressive and encouraging.
I also went to King George’s Hall to join with carers and workers in the field of health and social care to learn more about the various types of support on offer from our local carers support group. A feature of the event was the opportunity to hear from people involved in specific types of work such as supporting young carers , helping with welfare rights, supporting those caring for someone with a substance abuse problem those who work with male carers and others.
Finally, I want to comment on the launch of the It’s About Time initiative which is concerned about the need to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation particularly within the South Asian community. This is a joint effort between a nurse from the local hospital, Health Education England and One Voice a local voluntary organisation – one of whose aims is to raise awareness of key health issues affecting our community and to support strategies to facilitate improvement in health and wellbeing. If successful the increase in available organs from donors will allow lives of people having transplants to be transformed. It is this type of programme which needs to be supported as it encourages the community to take action itself to make things better. Our initiative alongside the Council to develop partnership working in localities is intended to include voluntary organisations and community groups so that together we improve our health and well-being.