‘I ain’t been bothered to go’: managing health problems in people with a learning disability who live without support

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People with a mild learning disability, who live independently without support from services, make up the largest group within the learning-disabled population. An inclusive project enabled a small group of seven people with a learning disability to take the lead in exploring their own lives. It used a grounded theory approach, enabling the group members to take a lead in the direction of the research. The aim was to explore the strategies they used to cope with day-to-day living, their experiences of poverty, and the support they received from their social networks. The research also explored issues of identity and labelling and enabled this socially excluded group to have a voice. The findings revealed multiple challenges in many aspects of day-to-day living. These challenges included a wide range of avoidable health problems and difficulty for a number of reasons in engaging with health services and health advice. This was exacerbated by having poor role models and limited social capital. Their health problems had a major impact on their lives, and many avoided diagnosis and treatment out of fear.

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