Praise for dedicated service that supports young patients with learning disabilities

The mum of a young patient who has multiple support needs has praised the work of staff at University Hospital Southampton during their visit that coincided with Learning Disability Week.

Nine year old Jack Gray from Dorset has a range of conditions including autism, epilepsy, speech and developmental delay, and was visiting UHS with his mum Claire for an MRI scan under general anaesthetic.

The family was made aware of a support service that is available to patients who have additional needs and was put in touch with Sam Maddern, a dedicated paediatric learning disability liaison nurse.sam and jack1

Claire was able to have a conversation with Sam several days before the appointment where she was able to explain Jack’s condition and what could cause him additional anxiety.

From that conversation, Sam and Claire were able to produce a hospital passport which is given to all healthcare professionals who form part of that patient’s journey and is a means of communicating relevant information to make the hospital experience easier to manage.

Claire explained how Sam’s ‘above and beyond’ approach made a huge difference to their care.

She said: “I do get anxious myself before a hospital visit because I know how Jack can react when things are unfamiliar and out of routine.

“Right from that first phone call with Sam I felt as if I had someone who understood Jack’s needs and could help make the visit less stressful for us all.

“Sam went out of her way to meet us in the car park outside and show us into the hospital earlier than she was due to start work. I explained that Jack was 'nil by mouth' and so wouldn’t understand why we wouldn’t be able to stop at the outlets inside the hospital main entrance for something to eat as we normally would. She took us in a different way which avoided that happening and stayed with us throughout our time.

“Jack is very much in his own world and not many people get in, but Sam was right in there with him and made the whole visit so much easier.

“Thanks to the passport system I wasn’t having to explain why Jack was acting in a certain way or anything about his condition, that was already known and understood and things put in place to help him deal with what was happening. All the staff we came into contact with were amazing and I am truly grateful to them all.”Jjack Gray

Jack (pictured right and above right with Sam) visited UHS during Learning Disability Week which runs until Sunday, 23 June. The awareness campaign is organised Mencap with the aim of promoting inclusivity.

Providing the learning disability liaison service is part of the UHS commitment to ensuring all our patients are able to access the healthcare they need.

Recognising the need for a dedicated support service for young patients with learning disabilities led to the creation of the post in May 2018. Since then Sam’s role has been extended to include supporting young people with autism and so far she has helped more than 100 patients and their families during hospital admissions and stays.

Sam, who also has colleagues that support adult patients with learning disabilities and autism, said: “It is an incredible job and one I love. It is great to know that the work we do makes it easier for all patients to access our services and get the care they need. I find it is the little things that make a huge difference to the families we meet.”

To find out more abut the learning disabilities liaison team, visit the webpages here.

Posted on Thursday 20 June 2019