Healthy hearts for people with learning disabilities and autism

People with learning disabilities and/or autism (LD/A) are more likely to experience heart disease than other groups.
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A Sussex report on deaths of people with learning disabilities (LeDeR) found over half (58%) of deaths in LD/A people under 65 could be attributed to cardiovascular disease. People with learning disabilities in Sussex live, on average, seven fewer years than the national average (54 vs 61 years old).

A Sussex-wide project aims to change this, through the launch of a suite resources designed to raise awareness of heart health, and promote services that better meet the needs of the LD/A community. The resources are being launched at a unique launch event this coming Sunday (21 April).

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NHS Sussex has partnered with Brighton charity Speak Out, and the Thumbs Up group of people with lived experience of LD/A, to co-produce a range of accessible films, easy-read leaflets, and training.

These resources have been developed to help people with LD/A - and their carers - learn about heart health and the importance of blood tests.

They have also been designed to help healthcare professionals provide accessible services and use annual health checks to address heart disease in this population.

Suneeta Kochhar, clinical lead for NHS Sussex said:

"Working with partners and communities to address health inequalities, such as these, is a key strand of Sussex Health and Care’s Improving Lives Together strategy.

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“Health and care services are focussed on treating and supporting people when they are unwell, however it is also important to focus on disease prevention to improve outcomes overall. We want to ensure that everyone has access to support and information to promote health and wellbeing, as this in turn will reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease."

Will Davies, chief executive of Brighton and Hove Speak Out said:

Speak Out were delighted to work with Sussex Health and Care on producing films, information, and accessible resources to help people with LD/A with cardiovascular health.

“We recognise the importance of equal health for everyone and people with LD/A should have more help with knowing the importance of a healthy heart. This piece of work directly addresses learning disability health inequality as the films and resources are easily accessible.

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We hope everybody who works with people with learning disabilities will play their part in making sure these valuable new resources are made available as much as possible to people with learning disabilities living in Sussex. This is ‘Health Advocacy’ at its best.”

This Sunday, a screening event will be held at Duke's Cinema at the Komedia in Brighton to launch these new materials.

This event will showcase a variety of accessible resources developed by the project, including films, easy read leaflets, and training materials. Attendees can expect clips from the films and talks from the project team and actors.

The event will also feature a special appearance by star of stage and screen Daniel Wakeford, who is perhaps most recognised from appearing on the Channel 4 programme ‘The Undateables’.

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Daniel, who describes himself as a singer-songwriter with autism, also boasts an impressive career on stage with his act The Daniel Wakeford Experience and as a television personality.

The event is open to people with LD/A, their families and carers, and healthcare professionals interested in promoting heart health in this population. It will be held in a relaxed and friendly environment with breaks and quiet spaces available. If you would like to join us, the details are:

Date: Sunday, 21 April

Time: 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM (Doors open at 10:00 AM)

Location: Duke's Cinema at the Komedia, Brighto

Book tickets:

For more information or to request accessibility support, please contact Speak Out at 01273

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