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Healthy lives

Catherine (left) and her PA Mariam on holiday, enjoying the beach at Brighton.

“Catherine’s got her life now. She goes all over the shop, they’ve covered the town” says her mother.

Catherine was always frightened of health care, especially when going to the dentist.  When she felt anxious Catherine used to sit on the ground and refuse to move which was one way she found of taking control of the situation.  This meant that over the years and after so many missed appointments, Catherine has had problems with her teeth. As a person with autistic tendencies and Downs Syndrome Catherine needed information about what was happening but in a way that made sense to her. 

Today it is different, Catherine now goes out and about all the time, attends all her health care appointments and is supported 24/7 by her own small team of personal assistants (PAs). We think that having good health care support and close relationships are vital to everyone. We all need the right information to make good decisions about our own health.

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Catherine’s mother says “She takes her camera and takes photos wherever they go. It’s taken such a load off my shoulders. It takes new staff a little while to learn how to approach her. They have to really get to know her well. That’s the thing. She’s found a friend in Mariam. It’s great to see the two of them together, chatting away.”

Mariam, one of Catherine’s PAs says “We’ve noticed a big change. Catherine and her mother are very close and we’ve got to know them both really well. Catherine’s mother has been involved every step of the way. Catherine used to suffer from a lot of tooth pain because of her fear of the dentist. We’ve all been encouraging Catherine to talk and if she is unhappy or anxious she is able to tell us now. Over time we have used pictures to help her understand the dental treatment. We have supported Catherine to attend many short appointments to build up her confidence. Catherine can now talk to the dentist and has had all the treatment she needed. From what she has learnt she now takes good care of her own mouth. Her gums are really healthy and she attends regular check-ups. Catherine really enjoys her life and is more herself.”

Over 80% of people supported by Choice Support go swimming. Two thirds of people we support have had an annual learning disability health check, which was above the national average. Almost all people we support had an annual medication check.

Catherine says “I’ve been on holiday to Brighton I’m learning to swim. I went in the sea”.

Health Survey

We carry out an annual Health Survey to make sure we monitor our performance against the national average. Our analysis of the data has increased the ways we support people to make real choices about living well. We have had several articles published about our findings. For example we have greatly improved our support to women to self-check their breasts and have regular breast screening tests. 

We are supporting people to make decisions about their own health in a number of ways. Watch these two videos or read below to find out more.

Josephine and Jack Project workshops

Living Well workshops

Jack & Josephine workshops

These workshops focus on learning about health in an accessible way using Jack and Josephine, who are life size anatomically correct cloth figures. They help to keep people we support safer and more aware of their rights and responsibilities. They also help train our staff and other disabled people to advocate for themselves. Topics include personal safety, sexuality, health and relationships and are tailored for either women or men with a learning disability.


Josephine and Jack are life size anatomically correct cloth figures who with trained facilitators run effective health workshops. 
Josephine & Jack were originally created by Them Wifies, in Newcastle and they now have their own charity The Josephine and Jack Project (JJP).


Living Well workshops

Our series of Living Well workshops promote all aspects of healthy living. These free one day events were made possible with a generous grant from SJ Clark Trust.

A range of fun exercises, workshops and resources, such as local community health teams are available to participants on the day.  Giving both people with disabilities and their supporters the chance to plan a healthier life by making good use of local resources, getting active, finding out information and making new social contacts.

One participant at our Living Well Workshop in Nottingham said: “The exercise class was fab. It showed that you can have lots of fun while keeping fit.”

Read related content...

Tags in this document: Health



Healthcare inequalities for people with learning disabilities - Learning Disability Today


Supporting men with learning disabilities to overcome barriers to health - Learning Disability Today

Contact us

Contact our user involvement team

Email: involvement-team@choicesupport.org.uk
or telephone: 0207 261 4100

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