Woman on the toilet

NHS launches new campaign to help people with a learning disability combat constipation

A new national campaign aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of constipation has launched, NHS England has announced.

The campaign is specifically centring around how those with a learning disability and healthcare professionals can spot early signs of the condition.

An NHS-funded service improvement programme for people with learning disabilities or autism, known as LeDeR, carried out research that revealed only 10% of the general population suffer from constipation, while up to 50% of people with a learning disability can be affected.

It was also found to be one of the 10 most reported long-term health conditions among those with a learning disability who died in 2020.

To drive awareness, the health service has released a range of resources that have been co-developed with the Down’s Syndrome Association, Mencap, and Pathways Associates to help different stakeholders.

                                                                        Video credit: Canva 

An NHS review conducted in partnership with LeDeR found that better understanding and management of constipation had the potential to significantly cut hospital admissions and improve overall outcomes.

Ultimately, the campaign is looking to educate on the seriousness of constipation; drive early symptom recognition; help people know how to get the care they need; and promote understanding of how to prevent the condition in the first place.

The resources, which include an animation, posters and leaflets, are designed to be used in primary care or care settings.

“These resources are important because constipation is one of the reasons people with a learning disability die avoidably every year,” Vijay Patel, campaigns assistant at Mencap.

“It’s important that people with a learning disability recognise when going to the loo is difficult or unhealthy and can talk to someone if they are worried about it.

“It is good that people with a learning disability, like me, have been involved in the creation of these resources because information about health needs to be accessible, jargon free and easy to read, so that people can understand them and know what to do.”

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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