Local NHS across mid and south Essex will be supporting Learning Disability Week 2020 which will take place online from 15 to 21 June 2020.
The theme of the week this year is the importance of friendships during lockdown.
Friendships are important to help with tackling isolation, as well as exploring the different ways of maintaining friendships during this unusual time.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have all been living in lockdown. This means that many people with a learning disability are feeling isolated, as they have been unable to see their friends and families.
We know that people with a learning disability already experience high levels of loneliness and social isolation and that this will only have been made worse by the lockdown. Studies undertaken by Mencap have evidenced that people with a learning disability are seven times more likely to be socially isolated.
People with learning disabilities often have more complex health problems and may not always get equal access to healthcare, due in part to communication difficulties. There is evidence that shows people with learning disabilities have asked for better information to ensure that services are more accessible and health inequalities are reduced.
Mid and south Essex Clinical Commissioning Groups continue to support those who work with adults with learning disabilities and/or autism, their families, and carers in the context of the pandemic. We have brought together a suite of assessible documents taken from national guidance and locally developed resources. We continue to work closely with our local authority and third-party colleagues to ensure the most up to date communications are made available to our learning disability communities.
Learning Disabilities Week is led by Mencap, a charity that is a leading voice of learning disability. Mencap has identified that 49 per cent of people with a learning disability would like to spend more time outside their house, 18 per cent feel alone and cut off from other people. And a third spend less than an hour outside their homes on a typical Saturday.
Tricia D’Orsi - Learning Disability Lead for Mis and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) - said: "Supporting those with learning disabilities is one of our main clinical priorities. We are focused on improving the life chances and experiences of people with a learning disability, their carer’s and families. We work with key partners and local providers to ensure individuals are provided with equal access to services that matter to us all, and that individuals with care and support needs receive help that is skilled, enabling and life enhancing.
“We share Mencap's vision of a world where people with a learning disability are valued equally. Their opinions and concerns are just as important as those of the rest of the population and should be listened to and acted on. That’s why we think it is so important to support initiatives like Learning Disabilities Week and the work of organisations like Mencap.”
“It’s more important than ever that those with a learning disability have the full support of people and services”. Friendship in particular is even more important during periods of isolation such as what many people are experiencing at the moment. Spending so much time alone can lead to further feelings of depression and isolation which can further deteriorate mental health.
To get involved with Learning Disabilities Week online this year use #LDWeek2020. People can post about the friendships they have made and value, what they mean to them and who they miss - perhaps with a picture or even a video so you can show the world how much your amazing friendships mean to you.