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'Hospital passport' helps people with learning disabilities

Posted on Monday 5th March 2012
Hospital passport

We have introduced a ‘hospital passport’ to help south London residents with learning disabilities communicate their symptoms to clinical staff. The new wallet sized card is a simple record of known conditions and personal preferences which patients with learning disabilities will carry with them to every hospital appointment.

Imagine being taken to hospital and finding that you are unable to explain how you are feeling or what’s wrong. This is often the problem facing people with learning disabilities who may have difficulty communicating symptoms to clinical staff.

The ‘hospital passport’, which will improve communication and understanding, will be completed by clients with the support of carers and family members and gives details of conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy or mental health problems as well more personal information such as food preferences, unusual behaviour and habits. This information will help hospital staff to make more robust clinical decisions that take into account every aspect of a patients needs.

Alison Keens, Head of Nursing and Therapies for Adult Learning Disabilities said: “If a patient with autism attends a clinic and is calm and subdued on the surface it may seem that everything is fine. What the passport does is highlight that this is out of character for this patient. Normally the patient may be hyperactive and agitated and so could be seriously ill. In some circumstances, the passport could be the difference between a patient accepting treatment or walking away feeling that health care professionals do not understand”.  

The ‘hospital passport’, which was introduced in January, will help the 2000 Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham residents with learning disabilities.

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