Improving healthcare experiences health inequalities faced by patients with
30 May 2012
On 7 March, two final year medical students, Zainab Oseni and Amanda Owusu-Agyei, hosted an event called Learning Disability: Challenging our Understanding, attended by Imperial medics. Zainab explains why she decided to organise the event and shares her highlights of the day.
“My mother used to be a carer for people with learning disabilities, so she often told me about the problems they had in the healthcare system. A recent independent enquiry showed that healthcare professionals’ limited knowledge, training and education about learning disability contributes to the health inequalities faced by patients with learning disabilities. The aim of the event was to encourage dialogue between medical students and people with learning disabilities about their health needs and healthcare experiences, and try to tackle the problems raised by the enquiry. We hoped that what the students learned on the day would influence their future practice as doctors, and that this would result in better healthcare experiences for people with learning disabilities.
The event started with a talk by Dr Elizabeth Muir (Public Health) on the medical perspective of health needs and how to deliver better care to patients with learning disabilities. This was followed by a presentation by Caroline Jones from Mencap – a learning disabilities charity – who spoke alongside a number of people with learning disabilities from the Hammersmith and Fulham Advocacy Group. The presentation highlighted their healthcare experiences and gave a brief introduction to the history of learning disabilities in the UK. After this, we broke into small groups and discussed cases of healthcare inequalities based on reallife scenarios. We were also given useful materials on how to implement some of the initiatives we had learned about. I think the event went well – the informal setting offered students the opportunity to interact with people with learning disabilities and gain a deeper understanding of the issues that they face.”