The importance of annual health checks for people with learning disabilities

Posted: 11 May 2023

A young girl with down syndrome using a computer with another lady helping her

In this article:

  • What is an annual health check?
  • Why is it important?
  • How is Brandon raising awareness?
  • A video about annual health checks

What is an annual health check?

An annual health check with a General Practitioner (GP) is offered to everyone with a learning disability over the age of 14.

A health check incudes a review of the person’s physical and mental health. It’s a joint process and is designed to help the person to make decisions about their own health and wellbeing.

The GP can support the person to make decisions by considering the best way of delivering information, taking into account the person’s level of understanding and communication preferences. Reasonable adjustments should also be made, such as changes to the layout of the waiting area, and increasing the time and duration of appointments.

Why is a health check important?

According to LeDeR (Learning Disabilities Mortality Review NHS England), people with a learning disability often experience poorer health compared with the general population. The review investigates the deaths of people with a learning disability and revealed that on average, they die 20 years earlier than the rest of the population. They are also three times more likely to die from avoidable causes.

In 2006, the Disability Rights Commission recommended the introduction of annual health checks for people living with a learning disability in England and Wales.

Annual health checks are designed to promote healthy living and wellbeing, identify health issues early, organise referrals, review medication, and monitor ongoing conditions.

Health checks are an important tool in identifying problems early, enabling intervention before issues become more serious.

How is Brandon raising awareness?

People with learning disabilities who are supported or employed by Brandon, are raising awareness of the importance of having an annual health check. They have worked with the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (BNSSG ICB) to make a video that is being used by the NHS and other partners, explaining what an annual health check is and why it is important. You can watch the video below.

At the annual health check, working with the GP, people will create their Health Action Plan – this is also something people supported or employed by Brandon have worked to co-produce, to make it accessible to people with learning disabilities and autism.

More information

You can find out more in our news article: Co-producing Accessible Health Action Plans.

Discover more about other co-production projects at Brandon.

Get in touch

Speak to our friendly team to find out more about our support services, jobs, fundraising and volunteering opportunities and how we can support your organisation.

Sign up to our newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest from Brandon Trust through our quarterly newsletter.