The current research study attempts to explore the state of care service for individuals with learning disability. Literature review part of the paper highlights on the existing literature available in journals of care services for individuals with learning disability. Research adopts quantitative and qualitative research methods through survey of questionnaire representative of people working in healthcare setting, and outside, with reference to the available care services for individuals with learning disability. The survey size is three and each participant represents unique feedback necessary to evaluate the phenomenon under investigation. Two participant works at healthcare setting, while one of them engages with people with learning disability within care service environment. Findings of the study suggest that care service provider has to interact with individuals with learning disability at physical level, and the needs of individuals with learning disability are complex, which involves brushing someone’s teeth, mouth care, and other similar form of care services within oral hygiene, emotional or/and physical support. Learning disability adversely effects individual communication level, and the need of care services for individual with learning disability, coupled with family support, explains the urgency of care services. Care needs for individuals with learning disability also vary with age, and people above fifty years of age finds physical needs as part of the needed care. In order to meet the needs of people from different age group, it is required to create a comprehensive services programme that includes inclusive care to the individuals with learning disability. The paper concludes with emphasis on improved and updated care services for individuals with learning disability. Individuals with learning disabilities are marginalized members of the society, and care services aimed at enabling them to conduct their ordinary life with ease are the essential component of overall healthcare services. The paper concludes with recommendations for policy, practice and research.
Individuals with learning disabilities are at odds with life in organizing their routine life, and care services for individuals with learning disability assists them with ability to manage themselves. The paper attempts to analyze the level of health service availability, efficiency, and sufficiency for people with learning disability in Blackpool, North West England Coast. Individuals with learning disability, especially older than fifty years of age, require attention and care because of deteriorating physical health. Additionally, empirical evidence for assessing whether the available services improved over the past or not. The paper relies on empirical evidence for the scientific study of available services to individuals with learning disability. Individuals with learning disability needs assistance for the organization of their life, and sometimes the available services to individuals with learning disability, coupled with families of people with learning disability, are limited. The research paper adopts primary and secondary research methods for assessing the participant response through a questionnaire survey. Interestingly, the research findings highlight on the lack of public knowledge on the available care services to learning disability, and only people interacting first-hand with learning disability realize the insufficiency of the services. Needs of individuals with learning disability are complex, and underrepresented in literature due to lack of first-hand exposure in interaction with people with learning disability. The research findings also highlight on the utilization of new services in the market that are in use for the individuals with learning disability elsewhere. Adaptation of quantitative and qualitative research methods for assessment of the care service phenomenon is undertaken through survey data collection methods, which includes online surveys. Electronic interaction with sample population is due to maintaining COVID-19 protocols of safe distancing. Current study explores the availability, accessibility, and sufficiency of care services available to people with learning disability.
The Taking account of the previous literature conducted in this field according to Willcutt, E. G., and Pennington, B. F. (2000) Learning Disabilities can be viewed as a vast term envisaging a variety of learning complexities related to the people of all age groups. Learning disabilities are generally associated with psychological comorbidities. Kohli et al., (2018) continues often, the terms of disabilities and disorders are used interactively, however, there is a difference between these two terms. The term ‘disorder’ is associated with a medical and scientific term. On the other hand, the word ‘disability’ in the paradigm of learning disabilities is a legal term that is mentioned in the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act. Szklut, S., Cermak, S., and Henderson, A. (1995) states that despite the wide variety of proposed guidelines and research upon Learning disabilities and learning-disabled individuals, the agreement upon a unified and standard definition is difficult to achieve. (Pacfold -Acta (2002) Continues therefore, a variety of definitions are stated in different researches visualizing different types of learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities can also be defined as a collection of various disorders that may affect the individual’s cognition, acquisition, retention, socialization, organization, comprehension, or use of verbal or nonverbal information
According to Rutter, M. (1974) the prime causes of learning disabilities are genetic, neurobiological factors, or any physical damage that changes the functions of the brain in a way that disturbs one or more cognitive processes related to learning and comprehension skills. A learning disability can be perceived as a reduced intellectual ability and functional difficulty with everyday chores and activities in an individual. Lyon, G. R., Fletcher, J. M., and Barnes, M. C. (2003). Furthermore, research claims that the main cause of learning disabilities are neurobiological factors because of unrevealed brain pathology.
In recent studies, hereditary and environmental aspects have shown mutual influence in the development and triggering of learning disabilities Shaywitz, S., E., (1998). According to Handler, S. M., et al., (2011) Learning disabilities can be categorized into verbal and non-verbal disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and visual-spatial organization problem the effects of learning disabilities prevail from childhood to adulthood because reading, writing, and socialization are essential proponents of daily life. The individuals suffering from these disabilities have a hard time socializing in academic, professional, and personal life. The person suffering from a learning disability also faces limited employment opportunities. Adults who suffer from a learning disability, face a major blow in their life when their professional opportunities are limited. These limited professional opportunities significantly make the person’s personal and professional life difficult. The social care and medical services get limited, when the child enters his or her adult age later on old or when he or she does not have his family to take care of him. According to Hogg, J., and Lambe, L., (1998) a research study, the residential services, social care, and family caregiving for older people are prominently set apart from the mainstream. Furthermore, it emphasizes that older people suffering from learning disability require more attention and services which are not given to them.
The family support, medical health care, and services for the individuals suffering from any types of learning disability is very important to be focused on. However, people focus on the victim’s learning disability rather than their ability. The concerned family members are worried about their relative’s suffering from learning disability future from hate crime, bullying, maltreatment, and exploitation. There is very little evidence for the adults suffering from learning disabilities to have access to medical care and services. The process of aging extremely influences learning disabilities, as adults with a learning disability are more prone to suffer from physical problems as well. Therefore, medical research and policies should be conducted and implemented to provide efficient medical care and services to older individuals who are suffering from learning disabilities. According to Christine, T. (2007) The families of the individual suffering from learning disability claim the thoughts of the future to be terrifying because of no proper medical care, policies, and incentives for adults facing learning disability. McCombie, C., and Chilvers, S., (2005) suggests that the views of families of the learning disability individuals should be the main priority upon views about medical government services into practice. In one of the recent studies, the whole family of the individual suffering from learning disability should be viewed as ‘priority client’ and was shocked about the absence of medical care and services for the adult service users Knox, M. (2000). According to Moss, S., and Patel, P., (1997) research study, there is a significantly high rate of people with learning disability above the age of 50 to be suffering from dementia. Adults suffering from any learning disability can acquire dementia. The study conducted on 101 adult people above 50 with learning disabilities deducted that 12 adults were additionally suffering with other physical health problems.
In contemporary society, social care and improved medical technologies have radically increased the life expectancy of people in developing and developed countries Kinsella, K. G. (1995). Therefore, the chances of the prevalence of learning disabilities have increased in adults after the age of 50. The main premise of social and health medical care services for older people suffering from learning disabilities requires more care and attention. Older people require a more responsive social care environment and acknowledgment as they grow old, their needs change. Therefore, adults and aged people with a learning disability require more attention and care to fulfill their needs. The health and social care workers should provide more attention and care to the people with a learning disability who have suffered any change in their family circumstances. They should provide emotional support to these people along with the health care.
The research methods define the strategy for ascertaining empirical evidence pertaining to healthcare services for individuals with learning disabilities in the locality of Blackpool at North West England coast. Research methods involve data collection through primary and secondary sources; primary sources include collection of data through survey, while secondary source is the utilization of already published literature in the field of healthcare. The adopted methodology of survey involve simple to understand closed-ended questions which the respondents can easily comprehend, and subsequently respond. Questionnaire methodology is a qualitative research methodology, and close-ended questions provide easy comprehension of the responses. For example, asking for the answer in ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ provides utilizing descriptive statistics that can categorize the population numerically in percentage, which is also known as dummy variables with scale from 0 to 1 or depending on the number of available options to respond (Skrivanek, 2009). This type of research methodology is based on the collection and processing of numerical information (Queirós, Faria & Almeida, 2017) from qualitative responses. Henceforth, the qualitative nature of questionnaires paves way for utilization of quantitative methods in the undertaken research.
Merits and Limitations of the Questionnaires
The systematic method of collecting data from questionnaires assist in gathering of information, which translates into quantitatively assessment. The benefits of questionnaire with close-ended question is the opportunity to perform statistical or mathematical techniques, and perform other computations. The primary purpose of keeping questions simple is to ensure easy understanding even for respondents not working in the healthcare sector. Not all the participants of the study work as part of the healthcare sector, and aim of the approach is to capture responses of two-sides, that is, people working in healthcare settings, and those that do not work in healthcare settings. The respondents for the questionnaires qualified randomly, and provides insight into the diversity of feedback from within healthcare setting, and outside.
However, for the simplicity of the assessment, the study undertakes analysis with a sample size of three respondents, and the population of the study is health care sector settings. The geographical proximity limits the study to the area of Blackpool at North West England coast. The data collection technique aforementioned are adopted by the disciplines of social science for providing quantitative insight into the qualitative phenomenon. The quantities nature of the study controls bias, and provides logical information. Closed-ended questions also provides structure to the collected information in the desired manner of undertaken research. As part of secondary research, the utilization of secondary sources in the form of research articles and books from available internet sources assisted in the assessment of the study. The collection of information from secondary research, which is already available in published form, provides existing studies and narratives on the issues facing individuals with learning disabilities. The secondary source sheds light on the effectiveness and availability of the resources to individuals with learning disability; however, the secondary research relate to the population with learning disability living in Blackpool at North West England coast. The study mentions current and previous strategies, and approaches, available to people living with learning disability.
Findings and Analysis
The questionnaire on learning disability involves eight questions, and the first question pertains to the participant’s sector of work, that is, whether he or she is working in the healthcare sector or not. Two-third out of the total sample replied with yes, while one of the sample respondent is working as primary school teacher (Appendix 1). The second survey question highlights participants level of interaction with individuals with learning disability, and two-third responded with ‘No.’ Third question relate to the job role, to which two replied with ‘care assistant’ and ‘primary school teacher,’ while one provided detailed reply due to first-hand experience interacting with learning disability. The responded working in healthcare sector with people with learning disability shared their experience, and stated personal interaction with patients of dementia and other lifelong condition, which includes ‘…tasks such as delivering pressure relief, mouth care or everyday tasks like brushing someone’s hair or teeth.’ This means individuals with learning disability, as per Handler (2011), have verbal and non-verbal disabilities that affect individual’s everyday routine in life, which subsequently makes them dependent on others.
Fourth question pertains to the availability of sufficient healthcare services to individuals with learning disability, and one participants working in healthcare setting but not directly with people with learning disability stated ‘Yes;’ while the others, not affirmative. The participant from ‘primary school’ teaching profession simply stated, ‘No,’ while the participant directly dealing with individuals with learning disability stated, ‘Not really,’ asserting that the new services available over the past couple of years can have enormous effect on the overall wellbeing of individuals with learning disability. The participant highlighted on the lack of available services to support individuals, along with their families. Fifth question seeks information on the accessibility aspect of the available resources, and only respondent working directly with learning disability stated otherwise. Participant working as care assistant in healthcare setting said yes, while the participant working as primary school teacher responded with ‘maybe,’ and it is because the participant emphasize the skill of individual with learning disability to access. Participant directly working with respondents stated, “…a lot of services have long waiting lists or have a limit to the services they are offered as they are in high demand.” This also reinstates finding of Moss, and Patel (1997) for people above 50 also having physical health needs along with learning disability, which requires extending health care services.
Sixth question provides motivation behind the job, which received diverse feedback. Participant with care assistant work considers ‘good team work,’ while primary school teacher stated love of working with children. Participant working with learning disability mentions helping vulnerable individuals provide satisfaction. Question seven asks participant about the reason to choose working in the care sector, and two of the participants responded with the element of ‘care’ as central to the work, while one responded replied with not working in the care sector. Eighth question inquires about the ‘capacity building’ of the health care workers providing care for individuals with learning disability, and the response is hundred percent ‘Yes.’ Participant working directly with individual’s learning disability stated the need of enhancing healthcare workers capacity to work because it has positive impact on providing care to the individuals with learning disability.
The paper argues that respondent varied in their response regarding availability, accessibility, and sufficiency of care services available to people with learning disability; however, most of the participants to the study agreed on need to increase care services to individuals with learning disability. The research paper analyzes the existing literature on the care need for people with learning disability, and systematically pursues data collection through survey based questionnaires. The electronic communication for survey assisted the collected of data from participants during COVID-19 protocols of safe distancing. The verbal and non-verbal disabilities effects in reducing mobility of individuals with learning disability on daily base, and the research explains the need of greater awareness for the availability, accessibility, and sufficiency of care services. An inclusive approach to providing care services to individuals with learning disability, coupled with the family support, can enable individuals with learning disability to organize their life in comfortable manner. Learning disability does not deprive individuals with learning disability the basic rights of human beings. Inclusive care include services that cater to the emotional, physical, intellectual, communicational, and family support of individuals with learning disabilities. Not all the individuals with learning disabilities have similar needs, and the complexity of the needs call for comprehensive care services program that enable them to contribute to the society at different levels. Needs of population with learning disability also varies due to age, amongst many other factors, which is the reason for up-to-date care services techniques for elderly people that includes a wide range of care needs. Care services are an important component of healthcare services, and it is the collective responsibility of all the stakeholders to healthcare services that the individuals with learning disability receives needed care in comprehensive manner. Incisive care program includes emotional, intellectual, physical, and communicational care.
The recommendations of the paper are three-fold that is, policy, practice, and research implications, and listed as below:
- In order to meet the complex needs of individuals with learning disability, policies should aim at inclusive care. An inclusive care that takes into consideration various set of care needs required by diverse age, gender, and racial groups. Needs of the individuals with learning disabilities varies with the change in demographic variables.
- At the level of practice, introduction of comprehensive care service programs need for meeting the complex needs of individuals with learning disability through increasing capacity of the care providers is need of the time. Care providers lack sufficient resources, and updated techniques, that assists in providing care to the individuals with learning disability.
- Further research is recommended on exploring various needs of the individuals with learning disability, and due to complexity of the needs, future research should explore the relationship of physical needs in proportion to other forms of need.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.
Christine, T., (2007) Thinking Ahead. Improving support for people with learning disabilities and their families to plan for the future. Available at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED542387.pdf (Accessed on 3 March 2021).
Handler, S. M., Fierson, W. M., the Section on Ophthalmology and Council on Children with Disabilities (2011). Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision. Pediatrics Available at: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2010-3670 (Accessed 10 February 2021).
Hogg, J., & Lambe, L. (1998). Older people with learning disabilities: A review of the literature on residential services and family caregiving. London: Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities.
Kinsella, K. G. (1995). Older Workers, Retirement, and Pensions: A Comparative International Chartbook.
Knox, M. (2000). Family control: The views of families who have a child with an intellectual disability. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities.
Lyon, G. R., Fletcher, J. M., & Barnes, M. C. (2003). Learning disabilities.
McCombie, C., & Chilvers, S. (2005). Research in child and adolescent mental health services: Results of research priority setting exercise.
Moss, S., & Patel, P. (1997). Dementia in older people with intellectual disability: Symptoms of physical and mental illness, and levels of adaptive behaviour. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2788.1997.tb00677.x (Accessed 24 February 2021).
Rutter, M. (1974). Emotional disorder and educational underachievement. Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Szklut, S., Cermak, S., & Henderson, A. (1995). Learning disabilities .
The New England Journal of Medicine (2021) Dyslexia Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D. (1998) Available at: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199801293380507 (Accessed 9 February 2021).
What are Learning Disabilities? PACFOLD (2002). Available at: http://www.pacfold.ca/about/index.shtml (Accessed on 5 March 2021).
Willcutt, E. G., & Pennington, B. F. (2000). Psychiatric comorbidity in children and adolescents with reading disability. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Skrivanek, S. (2009). The use of dummy variables in regression analysis. More Steam, LLC.
Appendix 1: Survey Response of Learning with Disability
|Respondents||Q 1||Q 2||Q 3||Q 4||Q 5||Q6||Q7||Q8|
|1||Yes||Yes||Descriptive Reply||Not really||No||Descriptive Reply||Descriptive Reply||Yes|
|2||Yes||No||Care Assistant||Yes||Yes||Good Team Work||Care for Others||Yes|
|3||No||No||Primary School Teacher||No||Yes||Love to Work with Children||Don’t work at care center||Yes|
- Do you work in the health and social care sector?
- Do you work with individuals who has Learning Disability?
- What is your job role?
- Do you think that there are enough services available for individuals with Learning Disability?
- The services that are available for individuals with Learning Disability are easily accessible?
- What motivates you to stay in your job role?
- Why did you choose to work in the care sector?
- Do you think health care workers should have more training in caring for individuals with Learning disabilities?