Domestic abuse self-help guide receives praise

People with learning disabilities who suffer domestic violence or abuse now have access to highly commended guidance on how to cope and where to get help.

Sunday, 2nd October 2016, 07:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 13:03 pm
Left to right: NTW information officer Gwen Illingworth, NTW Patient Information Centre manager Karen O'Rourke, Skills for People Newcastle quality checker Anthony Fothergill and NTW senior information officer Barbara Charlton

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s Patient Information Centre has been highly commended in the British Medical Association Patient Information Awards 2016 Easy Read category for its work on an easy-read guide about domestic violence and abuse.

The guide, titled Domestic Violence and Abuse – Easy Read Information, has been specially designed by clinicians and people with learning disabilities themselves, to be easily understood.

Using simple language and pictures, it offers advice on how to recognise if you are a victim and who can help.

Research has found that people with an intellectual disability are 1.6 times more likely to experience violence than those who do not have an intellectual disability.

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Patient information centre manager, Karen O’Rourke, said: “We are so pleased this booklet has been recognised as something that can really help people with learning disabilities understand some of the complex issues surrounding domestic violence and abuse.”

She added: “Ensuring that information about health and wellbeing is accessible to as many people as possible is something we focus on at the NTW Patient Information Centre. This praise from the BMA PI Awards is great encouragement that we are on the right path.”

The NTW Patient Information Centre provides a central point of access to appropriate information about health and related services to help people better understand and take control of their health and their treatments.

The leaflet is based on a self-help guide written by Dr Lesley Maunder and Dr Lorna Cameron, consultant clinical psychologists who have experience working in this field. It was adapted by voluntary organisation Skills for People Newcastle, then further adapted by NTW’s Easy Read Health Information Group.

The Skills for People programme committee, made up of about 14 people with learning disabilities, checked over the guide to make sure it was suitable and accessible for its intended audience.

Chief executive of Skills for People, Liz Wright, said: “We are delighted that this excellent publication has been recognised by the BMA. Skills for People helps organisations to create easy-read information for people with learning disabilities and others. Our team includes people with learning disabilities.

“The new Accessible Information Standard requires all organisations that give NHS care or adult social care to ensure that everyone should get information in a way that they can understand.”

Judges praised the booklet, one of a series of 23 self-help guides, for being “a good easy-read adaptation of what is a much wordier booklet in this self-help series. This is a nice, simple and clear booklet.”

Domestic Abuse Service Northumberland co-ordinator, Karen Richardson, said: “Domestic abuse is the hidden crime, primarily committed behind closed doors. Some victims feel ashamed, unable to confide in family or friends and trapped.

“By providing information and publicity, highlighting what abuse is, and promoting that help and advice is available, people have the choice to find out more, recognise they are not alone and access services that can change and potentially save lives.”

In England disabled people experience twice the rate of sexual assault, domestic abuse and stalking than non-disabled people, according to the Office of National Statistics (2014).