Knowledge of social care staff about learning disability: 20 years on
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Knowledge of social care staff about learning disability: 20 years on

Karen McKenzie Professor of psychology/clinical psychologist, department of psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
George Murray Clinical psychologist (honorary), NHS Lothian, Edinburgh, Scotland
Rachel Martin Research assistant, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Dale Metcalfe Lecturer, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To identify the need for a knowledgeable workforce supporting people with learning disabilities in the community

  • To read about research showing that social care staff lack knowledge about learning disability

  • To recognise the role of learning disability nurses in contributing to improve social care staff’s knowledge about learning disability

Background It is important for social care staff to understand what a learning disability is so that they can identify people with learning disabilities and provide them with the support they need.

Aim To explore whether there have been changes in the knowledge of social care staff about the diagnostic criteria for learning disability more than 20 years after the researchers first explored the topic.

Method A sample of 264 social care staff were asked to describe what they understood by ‘learning disability’. Their responses were compared with the three diagnostic criteria of learning disability – that is, significant impairments in intellectual functioning, significant impairments in adaptive functioning and childhood onset.

Results Impairments in intellectual functioning was the most commonly identified criterion and childhood onset the least commonly identified criterion. Only 5% of participants (n=13) identified all three criteria, while 57% (n=150) identified none or only one of the criteria.

Conclusion While the results are an improvement on those found more than 20 years ago, they still indicate an ongoing need for improved understanding, among social care staff, of what a learning disability is, and learning disability nurses have a role to play in this.

Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2022.e2182

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

k.mckenzie@northumbria.ac.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

McKenzie K, Murray G, Martin R et al (2022) Knowledge of social care staff about learning disability: 20 years on. Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2022.e2182

Published online: 14 April 2022

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