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Impact of Covid-19 on NHS Annual Health Check for Intellectual Disabilities – 2020

Covid-19 has heavily impacted those with intellectual disabilities, with over 60% who had routinely seen a healthcare professional beforehand, being left without access due to closing facilities. Furthermore, nearly 50% have not receive their NHS Annual Health Check for Learning Disabilities since March 2020.

Annual health checks are essential for identifying underlying health conditions, particularly in non-verbal patients who would be more likely to exhibit behaviours that challenge to express needs or pain. 

These figures come from a recent (ongoing) study undertaken by University of Warwick and Manchester Metropolitan University. We first came across the study thanks to Learning Disability UK. We’ve put together an infographic to highlight the effect that this has on the Learning Disability community.

Impact of Covid-19 on NHS Annual Health Check for Intellectual Disabilities – 2020

  • Nearly 50% of those with intellectual disabilities didn’t get their annual health check.
  • 30% of carers said the person under their care’s health had suffered since March 2020.**
  • Over 60% reported that the person they support/care for had worse mental well-being since March 2020***

Why these checks are so important

  • 10 – 15% of people with learning disabilities have behaviours that challenge which may result form physical health problems, identified during these health checks.*
  • 75% of 1,135 people exhibiting behaviours that challenge had one or more undiagnosed or undertreated health conditions.
  • In many cases, the person’s challenging behaviour stopped once their health condition was treated.

Conditions found include:

  • Epilepsy 46%
  • Hypothyroidism 13%
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux 10%
  • Severe closed head trauma 9%
  • Chronic pain 9%
  • Seizures 4%

Suffering in silence

From these findings it's clear that there are many factors that can lead to behaviours that challenge, and with a lack of access to the appropriate healthcare checks and community support, those with non-verbal intellectual disabilities could have been struggling in silence with painful conditions and poor mental health. As a result, expressing this discomfort and the unprecedented stress of lockdown restrictions nonverbally. 

We know that as someone in a position of care (teacher, carer, nurse or parent), its not always easy to identify the cause so you can mitigate this behaviour before it occurs despite incredible work creating unique systems of communication. But, we can promise that our unbeaten bite, scratch, and cut resistant clothing will protect you and let you care with confidence, no matter what happens.

About the Author

Robert Kaiser is the Founder and CEO of BitePRO®, the world's first specialised brand of protective clothing, offering dependable scratch and bite protection for healthcare workers, education professionals, and others working with individuals displaying challenging behaviour. Robert is a widely respected expert in workplace violence and violence prevention. His written work has been published in several international industry leading publications.