Meeting the cancer information needs of people with learning disabilities: experiences of paid carers

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This paper reports on one of the findings of a small study that aimed to explore how people with learning disabilities accessed and were supported to use a pictorial cancer information book. Five people with learning disabilities who were affected by cancer and their paid carers participated in the study. Support staff in the study were the people who provided cancer information for people with learning disabilities. They struggled with this task, particularly when the person needed information about cancer that exceeded the staff's own knowledge and experience. Most were also inexperienced in dealing with the emotions around cancer. There was little evidence that the support staff received any support themselves, either from cancer professionals or from within their own organizations. The authors conclude that although the findings of this study are based on a small number of people, collaboration is required between health and learning disability services. Further more, in aid of collaboration, staff in learning disability services require education programmes to enhance their skills in facilitating the health needs of people with learning disabilities.

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