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  • Suzanne Smith

Case Study: Health Research

A research team at Northumbria University have launched a major project exploring how carers recognise and manage deterioration in the health of people with learning disabilities and autism.

Approximately 1.5million people in the UK have a learning disability and it is estimated that around 1% of the population has an autism spectrum condition.

People with learning disabilities and autism are more prone to chronic health problems than the rest of the population and are often more susceptible to acute conditions, including sepsis.

As a learning disability can affect the way a person understands and communicates information, this may make it more challenging for carers to recognise the acute and often rapid deterioration that occurs when people become ill. This can result in delayed treatment, which can be fatal in cases such as sepsis, for example, where medical intervention is needed quickly.

While a number of tools to help carers recognise early deterioration do exist, there is a lack of evidence around their effectiveness as well as no consistent, national approach to using them.

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