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Occupational therapists in the UK can play a key role in helping people who have learning disabilities to be able to live as independently as possible as they age.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published new recommendations for health and social care workers on how they can support people with learning disabilities as they get older.
Often, these individuals are cared for by family members, but once their parents die or they are forced to move into a residential care home as they have no relatives to look after them any more, this can be distressing and disorienting for them.
As a result, NICE wants occupational therapists and other healthcare workers to be able to support people with learning disabilities through life-changing situations such as these, while enabling them to continue leading as independent a life as possible and with minimal disruption to their familiar routine.
Once complete, the new draft guidance from NICE will also state that health and social care workers should work closely with patients to evaluate their housing needs, their support network, and to check they know what to do in the event of an emergency.
In addition, occupational therapists will be provided with advice on how they can support these patients in staying healthy and active, as well as assisting them in accessing routine healthcare appointments to ensure they are not forgotten by the system.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, commented: "People with learning disabilities are living longer and reaching old age. This means that services have had to develop and adapt to cater to their needs.
"Our guidance will help providers and commissioners support people with learning disabilities to achieve good health and be able to spend time the way they want."
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford
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