Annual health checks for young people with a learning disability
People with a learning disability often have poorer physical and mental health than other people. This does not need to be the case.
Annual health checks are for adults and young people aged 14 or over with a learning disability.
An annual health check helps you stay well by talking about your health and finding any problems early, so you get the right care.
You do not have to be ill to have a health check – in fact, most people have their annual health check when they're feeling well.
If you're worried about seeing a doctor, or there's anything they can do to make your visit better, let the doctor or nurse know. They'll help make sure it goes well for you.
How to you get an appointment?
Adults and young people aged 14 or over with a learning disability who are on the GP practice learning disability register should be invited by their GP practice to come for an annual health check.
(sometimes called a learning disability annual review by GP practice).
Anyone who has a learning disability should be included on their GP practice learning disability register.
What if my GP doesn't offer the annual health check?
Most GP surgeries offer annual health checks to people with a learning disability. However, GP surgeries don't have to offer this service.
If your GP surgery hasn't offered you an annual health check, you can ask them if they could provide one. You can also check that your young person has been included on the GP’s learning disability register.
If they say no, contact one of the services in the 'Related Services' section for help.
Tips for parents
Before the appointment:
- Make a list of the different health issues, so you can check the GP has them all summarised on the computer and there is clarity about who is taking responsibility.
- List any health concerns that you currently have (hopefully you will receive a questionnaire before the appointment to help with this).
- Ask if a nurse or a doctor will be doing the check. If the young person’s health issues are complex, would the GP be the best person to begin with?
- Would the first appointment be better without the young person (assuming their consent), to bring the GP up to speed?
- Will the practice need to make reasonable adjustments to care for the young person? (e.g. routine appointments booked at quieter times, ways of coping if the waiting room is busy, best ways of communicating)
- Ask for these adjustments to be flagged on the young person's notes as an alert; this will help the receptionist at the point of phoning. (N.B. You don’t have to wait until your child is 14 to do this!)
- What monitoring needs to be done? Do you need to introduce your child slowly to the practice to get them used to having weight monitoring, blood pressure checks or blood tests?
- Would a one-page profile or a hospital passport be helpful? (See the example from the Community Learning Disability Team in the Downloads section)
- What knowledge needs sharing about a maybe rare condition?
Finally, make sure your young person is accompanied by someone who knows their medical issues well.