The resource, called ‘Preparing to visit a doctor’, aims to equip social care staff to plan with an individual for a review of their psychotropic medication. It includes guidance for staff and an easy-read questionnaire to complete with the individual prior to the appointment. Decisions made at the appointment can be added to the form so that the person with a learning disability or autism has a complete record of their medication review.
Anne Webster, Clinical Lead, NHS England said:
“The quality of the relationship between a support worker and a person with a learning disability or autism is critical to the doctor’s assessment and to enabling people to be involved in decisions about their own medication. This resource provides useful tips and guidance for the support worker in carrying out their role when supporting someone for a doctor’s appointment along with handy templates, checklists and accessible information to use with the person being supported. Using ‘Preparing to visit a doctor‘ will help the people you support to have healthier and longer lives. Thanks to VODG for developing this great resource. Please use it.”
The resource is part of a wider campaign within the social care sector to STop Over-Medication of People with a learning disability or autism (STOMP). This encourages all learning disability and autism providers in England to sign up to the STOMP pledge for social care.
The campaign is badly needed. Public Health England estimates that every day between 30,000-35,000 people with a learning disability are taking prescribed antipsychotic or antidepressant medication, or both, without appropriate clinical justification. This means that for some people medication is being used as a means of controlling “problem” behaviour, even when alternative evidence-based approaches are available. Long-term use of these medicines can lead to significant weight gain, organ failure and, in some cases, death.