A project which has increased uptake of bowel cancer screening among adults with a learning disability living in South Tyneside and Gateshead has received a national health award.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s Learning Disability service won the Communicating Effectively with Patients and Families category of the Patient Experience Network (PEN) awards.
Their specially-developed programme has proved highly successful in increasing uptake by raising awareness of the importance of the screening, and educating carers and families and staff on how to support the person with a learning disability to take the test.
The same project was a finalist in the Staff Engagement/Improving Staff Experience section of the awards, which recognise best practice in the experience of care in health and social care in the UK.
The Trust was represented in no fewer than seven sections of the awards in total: as well as the Learning Disability service success, staff were runners-up in four other categories and a finalist in another.
PEN reported an unprecedented level of entry for the awards in terms of range, number and calibre, with ‘some truly wonderful initiatives of an incredibly high standard’.
They said it was “heart-warming, inspiring and reassuring to hear of the great work that continues to happen across the UK”.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Steve Williamson said: “Staff in our community learning disability team are totally dedicated to supporting people with a learning disability to achieve positive outcomes in their lives and I am delighted that their innovative practice has been honoured in this way.
“Our staff across the board are dedicated to ensuring the best experience for all of our patients and I am very proud of all those who made it to the finals of these prestigious awards.
“The number and variety of categories for which they were selected, including communicating effectively, bringing patient experience closer to home, innovative use of technology, partnership working and support for caregivers, demonstrates the extremely high calibre and broad range of skills and expertise of our workforce.”
The winning Learning Disability service project was introduced in response to the team’s concern at the low number of adults with a learning disability in South Tyneside and Gateshead taking part in the national bowel cancer screening programme for 60 to 74-year-olds.
Their answer was a 12-week intensive programme involving easy-to-read letters about the screening, a training presentation for carers and the community learning disability nurses, and the introduction of a specific appointment to discuss the test with the individual, carers or family.