Did you know that the theme of this year's Learning Disability Awareness Week is maintaining connections and relationships with people during lockdown? Well that is exactly what our Walsall Community Learning Disability Team did these past few months to make sure their clients could still access the right care and support!

During March, as the impact of the Covid-19 threat grew, the Walsall Community Learning Disability Team recognised that they had to support our service users, their families and carers. As face-to-face visits were no longer an option, the team had to quickly source appropriate, accessible information and tools that they could get out quickly and efficiently, and thus began the launch of the Covid passport!

Designed originally by Leeds Teaching Hospital Learning Disability and Autism team, the team gained their permission to share this innovative resource pack with all of their patients and service users. In this pack were a variety of easy read information including understanding coronavirus resources, how to stay safe, social distancing, handwashing techniques and using the 111 service.

Over a two week period, these educational documents and packs were made and bundled up for all of their clients, either living individually or in residential homes and larger supported living tenancies.

Due to the size and weight of some larger packs, these were hand delivered by PAMHS nurses across the borough to residential homes and over providers, over a three day period. Hand delivery meant that we could knock on people’s doors and have a chat with them from a 2 metre distance to ensure they felt supported, check on their wellbeing and make sure they had all the information they would need.

The community team as a whole have estimated that 1300 resource packs were distributed to service users during the beginning April!

An information letter was included in the pack, informing service users, their carer’s and families that should they be admitted into hospital either as Covid positive or with another health condition a carer would not be able to go in an ambulance with them, but would have to meet them at the hospital. The team were able to negotiate with A&E at the Manor Hospital that patients with a learning disability could have one carer only stay with them when in A&E, however the carer may not be able to stay with them if they were admitted onto a ward as an inpatient. Contact details for the community team and acute liaison were provided for carers and health providers, and they were encouraged to contact them if they had any concerns, worries or questions.

An electronic version of the information pack was sent to CCGs, social care colleagues, our specialist providers both in residential care and day services, Shared Lives, respite services and the local college. This information was also sent to all GP practices in Walsall to use with their patients and they were encouraged to share the passports with their patients who were presenting as symptomatic.

The information was shared with the wider community team to share with their caseloads. They distributed information in the same way, either by hand, post or electronically.

Feedback for this initiative has been positive, with acute liaison nurses at Manor Hospital commenting that they were seeing passports being brought into hospital, which was great to see and hospital clinicians stating that having this additional information was of enormous help.

To download the passport and resource pack, please click on the links below. For more information on the packs, please contact the Walsall Community Learning Disability Team at 01922 658 800.