A new scheme has been launched to improve care received by people with learning difficulties in North Wales hospitals.
Campaigners Jayne Nicholls and Jonathan Ridd have worked tirelessly to end a
“postcode lottery” concerning the care of people with a learning disability in Wales since their brother Paul died in 2008.
Speaking at the launch of a new programme to improve the care of people with a learning disability in North Wales hospitals, Mrs Nicholls said Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) should be commended for playing a “leading role” in working with the family to establish a common standard in the care of people with learning disabilities when they are admitted to hospital.
She added: “There are some very driven staff in North Wales who are committed to working with us and other health boards across Wales to deliver meaningful change in the care of people with learning disabilities.”
At an inquest into Mr Ridd’s death at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, a coroner ruled that failings in his care contributed to his death.
The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales described his care as “abject” and “dire”.
The event at Bangor University launched the Paul Ridd Foundation logos, which have been officially adopted as the emblem to represent adults with learning disabilities across Wales.
Kim Scandariato, BCUHB’s matron for health liaison services, said: “People with learning disabilities can face communication barriers
when they are admitted to hospital and their medical complaints can often be misattributed to their learning disability.
“The logos will act as an indicator for hospital staff so they are aware a patient has a learning disability and may require some extra support.
“Where we have consent to do so, the logos will be displayed prominently on the patient’s wristbands, hospital notes and above their bed.
“They will complement the care bundles we have introduced, which ensure that hospital staff make reasonable adjustments to support people with a learning disability when they’re admitted to hospital.”
Rebecca Evans, UK Government minister for social service and public health, attended the event.
She said: “The tragic death of Paul Ridd highlighted the health inequalities that
people with learning disabilities can sometimes face.
“Such inequalities are not acceptable and must be eliminated.
“This new initiative will help to improve the care of people with learning disabilities and ensure their specific needs are met while receiving care in hospital.
“I would like to offer my thanks to Paul’s family for working with us and the health service, on this crucial approach to deliver service improvement.”
The new system will be introduced at Wrexham Maelor Hospital as well as all other hospitals in North Wales.
Carole Evanson, BCUHB clinical network manager for learning disabilities said: “We’re very proud of the role our learning disabilities team have played in working with the Paul Ridd Foundation
and other health boards in Wales to improve the standards of care given to people with a learning disability when they are admitted to hospital.
“We were the first health board in Wales to introduce dedicated health liaison team who support patients with learning disabilities in acute hospitals and in community settings.
“We’re committed to working in partnership with others to continue to share best practice and drive up standards of care.”