The health charter for learning disability providers

Pledge to improve health and tackle health inequalities

People with learning disabilities have worse health that the general population. The Confidential Inquiry into Premature Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities found on average men die 13 years earlier and women 20 years earlier that the general population. 42% of the deaths considered were premature.

Much can be done by social care providers, working together with people with learning disabilities, family carers and their health colleagues to improve the situation. Differences in health status are to an extent avoidable, and as such represent health inequalities.

In response VODG, Public Health England and sector stakeholders developed the health charter to support providers to improve the wellbeing of people with learning disabilities with the aim of reducing inequalities in health and social care.

The health charter provides key principles and guidance to improve the health and well-being of people with learning disabilities, and therefore improve people’s quality of life. It is aimed at adult social care providers and staff, who have an important role in helping people access good healthcare and lead a healthy lifestyle.

All health charter resources are housed on the guidance site on improving healthcare access for people with learning disabilities. Access the resources via this link.

  • The health charter consists of a series of pledges giving organisations a clear framework for improving practice. An easy read version is available.
  • A guidance document explains each of the charter’s statements and why they are important, with case examples and links to useful resources for each. The guidance begins with who should sign-up and how to implement the charter.
  • The self-assessment tool help to reflect on how well organisations are doing in relation to each of the key statements of the health charter. For each statement, there are questions to consider and work work through with people from different parts of the organisation. It is not necessary to undertake all of the assessment in one go; it can be up to make it more manageable.

Over 140 organisations have pledged to tackle health inequalities by using the health charter. 

Who’s signed up

The health charter in practice

The guide explains how the health charter is being used in practice by social care providers. The second edition includes a new chapter on commissioning.

VODG encourages all learning disability organisations to take up the health charter and help create real change. As more providers and staff adopt the principles and checks contained in the charter there is a better chance of closing the health inequality gap experienced by people with learning disabilities.

The health charter in practice guide sets out key outcomes and advice from organisations already using the practical support which can be used to:

  • establish a clear commitment to addressing health inequalities
  • deliver an important message to commissioners that health and wellbeing is a priority
  • support regulatory compliance
  • drive improvements in services, set strategic goals and organisational responsibilities
  • support the duty – included in the Care Act – to promote wellbeing.

Sign up here

The development of the health charter was grant funded by the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England. Visit the guidance site on improving healthcare access for people with learning disabilities via this link.