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BPS guidance on meeting the psychological needs of people with learning disabilities and their carers

21 May 2020

We’ve published new guidance to support health and social care professionals to meet the psychological needs of people with learning and intellectual disabilities, their families and carers.

Considering and exploring the different psychological factors that may influence and impact the wellbeing of people with learning or intellectual disabilities during the Covid-19 crisis, the new guidance highlights where psychologists can offer support and signposts professionals to helpful resources. 

Produced by the BPS’s faculty for people with intellectual disabilities, the guidance was developed by Dr Judith Samuel, vice-chair of the faculty, and Dr Karen Dodd, committee faculty member and co-chair of the National Learning Disabilities Professional Senate.

Dr Allan Skelly, chair of the faculty, commented that:

“People with learning and intellectual disabilities will experience the pandemic in many different ways. Services they have become used to may be closed; carers, friends and family may have to self-isolate, become ill, or even die.

People who live in care homes are at particular risk. 

Some people may also experience positive benefits with reduced demands, and more time with their household or family. We need, therefore, to take account of each person’s individual situation and remember that the psychological distress due to trauma may take some time to appear.  

Our aim is to guide and support psychologists in their work, in promoting awareness and the appropriate adjustments that are required for people with intellectual disabilities at this exceptional time.

Psychologists can make a difference at the level of individual relationships with clients, to supporting our own health and care organisations, to advising area commissioning, to advocating at policy level.

Families and carers are very important in meeting our clients’ needs at the best of times, and it will be crucial to meet their needs as well during the pandemic.”


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