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What are Annual Health Checks for people with Learning Disabilities?
People with a learning disability often have poorer physical and mental health than other people but this does not need to be the case.
Annual health checks are for adults and young people aged 14 or over with a learning disability.
An annual health check helps you stay well by talking about your health and finding out about any health problems early, so you get the right care.
- This annual health check is to see how healthy you are and if you need any support
- You do not have to be ill to have a health check
- Most people have their annual health check when they're feeling well
If you are worried about seeing a doctor, or there's anything they can do to make your visit better, let the doctor or nurse know. They will help make sure it goes well for you.
How will it help?
You'll get to know your GP better, which will help if you ever do get ill.
Most health problems are simple to treat once you know about them.
Your GP can help stop you getting a serious health condition. This is better than waiting until you're ill.
You can ask your GP questions about your health, how you're feeling, your care or any medicines you take.
How do you get an appointment?
Adults and young people aged 14 or over with a learning disability who are on the GP practice learning disability register should be invited by their GP practice to come for an annual health check.
What if my GP doesn’t offer the annual health check?
Most GP surgeries offer annual health checks to people with a learning disability. However, GP surgeries don't have to offer this service.
If your GP surgery hasn't offered you an annual health check, you can ask them if they could provide one. If they say no, ask your local community learning disability team for advice. They should be able to help you book an annual health check.
What happens during the annual health check?
During the health check, the GP or practice nurse will:
- do a physical check-up, including weight, heart rate, blood pressure and taking blood and urine samples
- talk to you about staying well and if you need any help with this
- ask about things that are more common if you have a learning disability, such as epilepsy, constipation or problems with swallowing
- talk to you about your medicines
- if you have a health problem such as asthma or diabetes, the GP or nurse will check how it's going
- check to see if you have any other health appointments, such as physiotherapy or speech therapy
- ask if family and/or carers are getting the support they need
- help make sure that things go well when children move to adult services at the age of 18
If your learning disability has a specific cause, the GP or practice nurse will often carry out additional tests if there are any other health risks.
For people with Down's syndrome, for example, they may do a test to see if the thyroid gland is working properly.
You'll be asked for your consent (permission) to share information with other services that provide your care.
This will help you get the right support if you go to a hospital, for example.
The GP or practice nurse will also give you health information, such as advice on healthy eating, exercise, contraception or stopping smoking.
Do you have to have an annual health check?
No. All parts of the health check are voluntary.
Anyone who's having the health check, or their carer, can ask the GP or practice nurse for more information about the process.
The person can then give their consent before any tests or procedures are carried out.
Your GP can give you information you need in a way that will help you.
Record Last Updated on: 06/02/2020