In people with learning disabilities and diabetes, information that is either not understood or misunderstood will prevent people with learning disabilities from becoming active in the care of their own health. Low literacy and comprehension levels can be a significant challenge when non-adherence with a treatment plan occurs.
People with learning disabilities can gain more understanding and knowledge from interactive and participatory education models (Kolb, 1984). An approach based on practice, participation and activity could be more effective than traditional health promotion material available for the general population.
Learning disability nurses have an important role to play in teaching skills to this population. They can assist people with learning disabilities with diabetes to gain access to healthcare services that are suited to their needs. Having the skills and knowledge to adapt mainstream health information ensures that people with learning disabilities have the same opportunities as every other member of society and helps to reduce health inequalities.
Any person newly diagnosed with diabetes has much to learn. The goal of diabetes management is to enable the individual with diabetes to be self-caring. Having access to tailored information is key, for a person who is newly diagnosed continuing throughout their diabetes journey. Not only may new skills such as monitoring blood glucose levels or injecting insulin have to be learnt, but these individuals also need the knowledge and understanding to make informed decisions about all aspects of living with diabetes.
We have collated a list of resources including Diabetes UK material and material from other organisations that will support your work with people with diabetes and learning disability.