Making it better for patients

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Parents of children with learning disabilities have welcomed the appointment of a nurse specialist at Scarborough Hospital following a three-year campaign.

Learning disability specialist nurse Ben Haywood has been taken on by York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to make sure people receive the support they need in hospital.

The trust provides the service to cover Scarborough, Bridlington, Whitby and Ryedale. It is open to anyone with learning disabilities whether they are staying overnight in hospital or just going for an appointment.

Scarborough parent Ali Wilkins, whose daughter has a learning disability, said: “Patients with learning disabilities admitted to hospital were slipping through the net and not receiving support.

“This was due to the absence of a dedicated learning disability liaison nurse and lack of recognition of learning disability by nursing staff.

“In view of the ‘Mencap Death by Indifference’ report this was a concern for many carers.

“We now have Ben which is great, and although his time is limited due to his split role between safeguarding and learning disability, he is making a difference.

“I am hopeful that he will soon be getting a mobile phone and a pager to make contact easier and quicker. There are posters all around the hospital making staff, patients and carers aware of Ben’s role and how he can help.

“This means that LD patients and carers will have the support they need during their stay in hospital. A hospital stay as we know is traumatic for anyone, but for a person with a learning disability and often other disabilities it is a lot worse and a great worry to carers.

“Knowing that Ben’s expertise is available to them will hopefully make this easier.”

Mr Haywood is now on hand to help those patients, and their families, get the specialist support they need in the way that they need it.

He explained: “Patients with learning disabilities have particular needs and concerns so I am here to answer their questions and give advice and information in a way that is appropriate to them.

“I can help them make plans and get information for the hospital staff, and if their visit is planned I can arrange to see the patient beforehand to explain everything.

“Sometimes patients have problems communicating and this can be made much easier by helping the patient and hospital staff get to know each other in advance.

“It means that staff understand the patient better and know how to make them feel most at ease, making their stay more comfortable.

“Anyone can contact me direct whether it is the patient themselves, families or carers. A patient’s community nurse or a person that supports them in the community can also contact me on their behalf if they are unable to do so.

“We just want to make sure people know this type of help is available for people with learning disabilities in our area.”