Improving care for people with learning disabilities in hospital
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Improving care for people with learning disabilities in hospital

Linda Phillips Community learning disability nurse, Community Team Learning Disabilities, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire

Evidence suggests that people with learning disabilities have greater healthcare needs than the general population and that these needs are often unmet. A literature search was conducted to identify factors influencing general hospital care for people with a learning disability. Electronic databases, general internet searches and references from the initial search were used to identify relevant studies published between January 1990 and December 2010. Fourteen studies were identified that matched the inclusion criteria. Recurrent themes included the effect of being in hospital on the individual with a learning disability, attitude and knowledge of staff, the hospital environment, role of carers and recommendations for improvement. A critical appraisal tool was used to assess the quality of the selected literature. Despite limitations, all the studies contributed to the evidence base. Although much has been written about general hospital care for people with a learning disability, credible research in this area is lacking. The areas of good practice identified from the available literature need to be evaluated and disseminated so that all people with a learning disability can receive the best possible health care.

Nursing Standard. 26, 23,42-48. doi: 10.7748/ns2012.02.26.23.42.c8933

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review