Standards of Practice for Physiotherapists: Working with adults with a learning disability imageA new guide, which aims to improve and standardise the delivery and commissioning of specialist physiotherapy services to provide successful physiotherapy to adults with a learning disability, has been launched.

Created by Sarah Bruce, National Executive Member for the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists For People With Learning Disabilities (ACPPLD), and David Standley, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist at Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Trust, the document explores the role of the specialist learning disability physiotherapist and how they support the health and wellbeing of adults with a learning disability.

Entitled ‘Standards of Practice for Physiotherapists: Working with adults with a learning disability‘, the guide is available for free online.

Even though adults with learning disabilities have the same rights to access mainstream physiotherapy services as everyone else, they may require adjustments and specialist knowledge to improve their health outcomes, the guidelines note. This means that they may need access to specialist learning disability services.

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David Standley says that specialist learning disability physiotherapists have an “essential” role to play in supporting the health and wellbeing of adults with a learning disability.

The standards of practice come due to the wide variations in the provision of specialist learning disability physiotherapy in the UK which has impacted on the physiotherapy management of adults with a learning disability. The guide aims to improve and standardise the delivery and commissioning of specialist physiotherapy services.

Additionally, the standards:

  • Outline the role of the specialist learning disability physiotherapist
  • Provide best practice guidance to improve physiotherapy health outcomes for all adults with a learning disability
  • Raise awareness of the role of the specialist learning disability physiotherapist to commissioners, service managers and mainstream health and social care professionals to improve access to specialist physiotherapy
  • Explore the adjustments that specialist learning disability physiotherapists make to provide successful physiotherapy to adults with a learning disability that go beyond what is reasonable for mainstream services

Sarah Bruce commented: “It is important that all physiotherapy staff have an awareness of the role of the specialist learning disability physiotherapist and that they able to access specialist learning disability physiotherapy services locally to support successful physio outcomes for adults with a learning disability.”

The standards were developed through two years of research and development in collaboration with the ACPPLD membership.

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