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Informing and improving the health and wellbeing of children and young people with Down’s Syndrome - Pauline Watts

DSAAs part of my professional Lead Nurse responsibilities and the week of action, I spent the day with DSA, one of our partners on specific LD work, talking about some fantastic work that they are doing to inform and improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people with Down’s Syndrome.

As well as developing a range of high quality reference materials, providing phone advice and support for carers, they are taking forward some fantastic projects that directly impact on health and wellbeing, and align with PH priorities.

Stuart talked to me about a project on Annual Health Checks for people with DS, and how a hand held Annual Health Check book is enhancing the uptake and quality of annual health checks. The issues that are addressed by the book are explained in more detail, for professionals, on an area of the DSA website and I would encourage all healthcare professionals undertaking annual health checks to visit the website!

Lad hits ball

Calling all nurses, please can you support people with a learning disability and especially those with specific health needs to access health checks and to get the right health issues checked!

James talked about his work on DS Active, where professional Football and Tennis Clubs offer bespoke sports coaching and sessions for children and young people with DS. This initiative is excellent for improving and maintaining physical health, increasing social opportunities and enhancing mental wellbeing, through participation, skill development and achievement.

Premier League's Down's Syndrome Football Festival - Motspur Park - 20/3/11
Premier League's Down's Syndrome Football Festival - Motspur Park - 20/3/11

We hope to develop a pathway into sport document that will help nurses to guide people to these and other wonderful sports opportunities, so watch this space!

Sheila described the Workfit programme and the successes and challenges associated with employing people with disabilities. It reminded me, that each person has a unique skill set and that the matching of the person to the job is central to success. Meaningful employment brings with it, social opportunities and raised aspirations which impacts on positive mental health. (The next stage on for our children!).

The level of enthusiasm and knowledge was uplifting and reiterated the importance of developing partnerships with a wide range of organisations, to increase the impact on the individual and reduce the inequalities that exist for this population.

Pauline Watts, Lead Nurse Quality, Public Health England

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