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Learning disabilities made clear toolkit

Supporting people with a learning disability access healthcare 

For many people, accessing the healthcare system remains a frightening experience - they are confronted by new environments, meet unfamiliar people, and don't know what to expect.

These fears may be compounded when the person coming into hospital already has other needs, such as a mental health condition, dementia, or a learning disability. Such conditions can affect the person's perceptions or understanding of hospital experiences. 

This toolkit brings together a range of resources to promote understanding about what it’s like to live with a learning disability, allowing healthcare professionals to adjust the care they deliver and helping people with a learning disability accesses the services they need.

"If we can get healthcare services right for people with a learning disability, then we get healthcare services right for everyone.”

Sue Read, Professor of Learning Disabilities, Keele University


Most of the components of the toolkit can be downloaded from the related documents section of this website. Information produced by external organisations can be found by clicking the relevant links in the list below.

Read our introductory guide for more information about the toolkit and ways of using it.

Theme one: Access to healthcare

  1. Making a difference - Key Messages for Staff
  2. Booklet: Understanding autism
  3. Booklet: Understanding dementia
  4. picTTalk Communication app to use on iPad and Android devices 
  5. Communication flash cards on a ring (10 cards)
  6. Hospital communication passport
  7. The Hospital Communication Book. Key sections are free to download for personal use.
  8. Film: Making a Difference Together
  9. Film: Going into hospital
  10. Film: Understanding autism
  11. Leaflet for professionals: Understanding autism
  12. Leaflet for professionals: Understanding dementia
  13. Leaflet: Getting it Right (Mencap)
  14. Power point presentation: Understanding autism
  15. Power point presentation: Understanding dementia
  16. Power point presentation: Access to healthcare - (note: embedded video will not work on OS X computers)
  17. Meeting the health needs of people with learning disabilities (RCN Guidelines)
  18. Leaflet for professionals: ABCD checklist for primary care practices
  19. Communication pictograms cards - These cannot be downloaded but can be purchased from Asist.  Alternatively you can download the picTTalk app for iPador Android devices.

Theme two: Safe healthcare

  1. Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults (Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Adult Safeguarding Partnership)
    This resource is not currently available to download.  For enquiries about this resource, please email s.c.read@keele.ac.uk
  2. Booklet: Understanding safeguarding

Theme three: End of life care

  1. Booklet: When someone you know has died…a guide for carers offering bereavement support
  2. Leaflet: When someone you know has died… clear information
  3. Booklet: When someone you know has died…a guide for professionals offering bereavement support
  4. Booklet: Children’s Hospices, useful information (for staff, children and families)
  5. Booklet: Culture, Faith and Spiritual Care (for staff, children and families)
  6. Booklet: Emotions (for staff, children and families)
  7. Booklet: Everyone Communicates (for staff, children and families)
  8. Film: Conversations about death and what it means
  9. Booklet: Living with an illness that I will die from: A Carer’s Guide
  10. Leaflet: Living with an illness that I will die from: 1. Finding out… (for people with learning disabilities)
  11. Leaflet: Living with an illness that I will die from: 2. My Questions… (for people with learning disabilities)
  12. Leaflet: Living with an illness that I will die from: 3. What Next… (for people with learning disabilities)
  13. Leaflet: Living with an illness that I will die from: 4. Being Prepared… (for people with learning disabilities)
  14. Booklet: Living with an illness that I will die from: A guide for professionals offering palliative care and support
  15. Booklet: When someone you know has died…people with learning disabilities supporting each other
  16. Power point: Loss and bereavement


  1. Introductory guide to using resources
  2. Web links and resources
  3. Interactive evaluation form
  4. Toolkit evaluation and good practice examples

The toolkit has improved communication with the clients, empowered staff to support clients with disabilities, and improved staff knowledge base.

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