Luv2MeetU - how do we fill the gaps in support for people with a learning disability?

What has Covid-19 been like for adults with a learning disability? Luv2MeetU's members #SpeakUp to say they need access to clearer information, plus more support to be independent and manage their own health
Two young women with learning disabilities

Luv2MeetU is a friendship and dating organisation for adults with learning disabilities and/or autism. They run regular activities for their members, but had to change how they worked through the Covid-19 pandemic - people felt isolated and needed extra support.

They used our #SpeakUp grant funding to talk to their members about how life has been in the pandemic, what support they might need going forward, and how they want to get more involved in their own health.

People would like more support to get out and about

People told us they do get support - from their families and from supported living staff - to assist with their physical health and help when they're feeling down. This has been especially important during Covid-19, when more people have been struggling with feelings of anxiety and depression.

However, we know that people need more than this to feel like they're thriving. People had a strong desire to be more independent, to get out of the house more, and regain their confidence after being in lockdown. Some people need dedicated, individual support in order to leave home and go shopping, meet people, and other activities. It's this support that people felt was lacking. 

It's been hard to get in contact with health services

We asked people how they felt about reaching out to the health service they might need - like the doctor, dentist, or pharmacist - and the group was pretty split. Some knew who to contact and how to do it, but some weren't sure and said they wouldn't have the confidence.

On top of this, knowing who to contact is only half of the task - most people had struggled to contact doctors, dentists, and mental health workers when they had tried. People had found it hard to get through on the phone, said waiting times made them anxious, and the quickly changing Covid-19 rules made it hard to understand what kind of care they could get.

People told us how to improve the gaps in support

People told us there were gaps in support for people with a learning disability. They also told us what they think would help to fill these gaps:

  • A booklet aimed at people with a learning disability which could explain the different types of health and social care service they might need to use, and how to contact them. They want this to be Easy Read, with illustrations to help them understand.
  • Wellbeing workshops would help people to learn new skills around health - like cooking and nutrition, exercise, and looking after your mental health. 
     
  • Clearer information about Covid-19 changes - what the rules are, what this means for individuals, and how to get help if they need it.
     
  • A one-stop shop for people with a learning disability who are having difficulties with low mood or mental health challenges. People would like to see services geared towards them, rather than being expected to fit into mainstream services that don't feel appropriate.

What next?

Thanks to the experiences and ideas of Luv2MeetU members, we have shared findings and recommendations with the people who design, pay for, and provide services.

We want to work together to achieve better outcomes for people with a learning disability, and achieve the support they need to live more independently. 

Find out more

To read about people's experiences in more detail, as well as the recommendations we've made for improvement, read the full report:

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