Ensuring Optimal Postural Care for Individuals with Learning Disabilities: Learning Disability Week 2023
CareFlex will join communities throughout the UK for this year’s Learning Disability Week. Mencap’s annual campaign strives to ensure that the world hears what life is like for individuals who have a learning disability.
Every year, Learning Disability Week aims to:
- Educate and raise awareness about learning disabilities
- Smash stigmas and end discrimination
- Fight and campaign for a fair society
This Learning Disability Week, CareFlex pledges to focus on the importance of postural care and raise awareness of this critical aspect of daily life. Good postural care is essential for everyone, but it takes on added importance for individuals with learning disabilities, especially those with profound and multiple learning disabilities who may have movement, comfort, and independence challenges. They are more likely to have cardiorespiratory concerns, gastrointestinal reflux, diabetes, or osteoporosis.
The Confidential Inquiry into Premature Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities (CIPOLD) revealed alarming statistics: men with learning disabilities died, on average, 13 years sooner than men in the general population, and women 20 years sooner.1
Why is Postural Care Important?
A significant contributor to this premature mortality is a lack of appropriate and timely interventions, including effective postural care. Maintaining optimum body shape is critical for overall health and well-being. Without proper postural support, individuals with learning disabilities can experience body shape distortion and are at risk of developing avoidable secondary complications. For instance, destructive postures can lead to respiratory and digestive issues, further exacerbating health outcomes.2
We must learn from the past, implement safer practices, and work towards a future where every individual with a learning disability can enjoy a life of comfort, dignity, and improved health.
Postural care also significantly promotes independence and participation in activities for individuals with learning disabilities. Providing the right support surface at the right time can promote a wide range of activities from feeding to communication, encouraging the user to engage more actively in a meaningful daily life.
How Can Specialist Seating Support Individuals with a Learning Disability?
Specialist seating is a fundamental part of a holistic 24-hour postural care approach; ultimately, it will improve the individual’s quality of life:
- Specialist seating can ensure optimum postural support at all body segments while promoting stability for function and independence.
- Providing comfort and energy conservation is also essential for interaction and engagement in a meaningful life.
- Adjustability and a range of functions and accessories can ensure that the specialist seating provision can be configured to the individual’s needs and adapt to the changing needs they can experience.
- Additionally, specialist seating is designed and engineered with the support network in mind to ensure consistently safe and appropriate use.
How Can CareFlex Help?
Beyond providing specialist seating, it is essential to educate caregivers and professionals about the importance of postural care. Individuals with learning disabilities can depend on their support network to enable them and implement care plans. Misunderstandings, lack of knowledge, and issues with confidence can lead to unintentional harm.3 In the realm of postural care, this change begins with the proper use of seating solutions, safe handling and repositioning techniques, and regular monitoring for potential secondary complications. CareFlex provides comprehensive training and resources to ensure that caregivers understand and can safely apply these principles.
This Learning Disability Week, let us pledge to focus more on the importance of postural care. We must learn from the past, implement safer practices, and work towards a future where every individual with a learning disability can enjoy a life of comfort, dignity, and improved health.
- Heslop P, Blair P, Fleming P, Hoghton M, Marriott A, Russ L (2013) Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities (CIPOLD) Final report Available from: http://www.bris.ac.uk/medialibrary/sites/cipold/migrated/documents/fullfinalreport.pdf
- Public Health England (2016) Postural care and people with learning disabilities Available from: www.gov.uk/government/publications/postural-care-services-making-reasonable-adjustments/postural-care-and-people-with-learning-disabilities
- Mencap (2007) Death by Indifference Available from: www.mencap.org.uk/sites/default/files/2016-06/DBIreport.pdf