The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) has awarded our Community Learning Disabilities Team (CLDT) funding for a bowel cancer screening project. The CLDT has made a plan to make it easier for more people with learning disabilities to attend bowel cancer screening.
Matthew Joel, Carole Adams and Helen Purver from the CLDT have designed the project, which will identify and put in place reasonable adjustments local healthcare teams need to make to help people understand and take part in screening, so the early signs of bowel cancer can be detected and treated sooner.
A joint study carried out last year in Bristol showed that less than 1 in 10 people with learning disabilities living in Bristol, aged between 60-74 years old, have been screened for bowel cancer. In the general population between 4-7 in 10 people go to screening, meaning people with learning difficulties are at a much greater risk of having bowel cancer left untreated.
People with learning disabilities tend to have more health problems and are more vulnerable than other members of society – especially if they live on their own and rely on others to deal with their doctors’ letters or bring them to appointments.
Spotting the signs of bowel cancer early
The bowel screening test significantly increases the chance of spotting bowel cancer early, which means patients can be treated sooner and hopefully make a full recovery.
Helping more people to get screened
The CLDT will talk to doctors and hospitals across Bristol, and support them to make sure that they make the necessary reasonable adjustments and more people are reached. The CLDT will also support patients by keeping in touch with them about their screening and following up on any missed appointments. The project aims to more than double the screening for people with learning difficulties by next year, meaning that more than patients can receive the care that they need.
A plan for the future
The QNI fund fewer than than ten projects a year, so this award is a fantastic achievement for our Community Learning Disabilities Team. We hope that if this project is successful we can use the same approach to improve access to other screening programmes in the future – such as breast and cervical screening.