Research request – looking for participants

Natasha Marsland is a University of Bristol MSc student and is looking for people with mild and moderate learning disabilities who have diabetes and have had a hospital admission since the beginning of the pandemic to participate in her research study

The study aims to find out the difference reasonable adjustments made to their diabetes care and experience in hospital. More details can be found in the accessible information sheet below.

UoB Diabetes C19 and hospital admissions

Reasons for undertaking the study

Diabetes is more prevalent in people with learning disabilities than the general population (MacRae et al.2015) and people with diabetes are more likely to be admitted to hospital compared to the general population, with at least one in six beds occupied by a person with diabetes (Diabetes UK,2019) Insight work conducted in 2018 by the diabetes charity, Diabetes UK highlighted many people with diabetes receive poor diabetes inpatient care, with many gaps in the service (DiabetesUK, 2018). For many people with diabetes being an inpatient is a distressing experience (Read et al., 2018).

People with learning disabilities experience significant health inequalities compared to people without disabilities (NHS Digital, 2020). The pandemic has exacerbated the health inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities (UN,2020) and people with learning disabilities are still dying prematurely and from avoidable deaths (LeDer,2021), with many of these deaths preventable if people with learning diabetes received appropriate health and social care (Glover 2013; Glover et al. 2017; Heslop et al. 2013; Mencap. 2007; Mencap.2012; Michael 2008; Hoskins et al.2016; Troller et al.2017). Mencap has exposed the barriers to appropriate health care experienced by people with learning disabilities during the pandemic (Mencap 2021). People with learning disabilities who were admitted to hospital during the pandemic were less likely to be admitted to intensive care, be intubated, and receive non- invasive respiratory support (Baaksh, R.A. et al.2021). Adults with learning disabilities were more likely to be infected with COVID-19 compared to the non-disabled population (Henderson et al. 2021; Williamson, EJ et al. 2021) and a lack of appropriate government guidance for people with learning disabilities has meant people have been unable to access appropriate health and social care (Flynn, al.2021; Kavanagh, A. et al. 2022) which has contributed to poorer health, premature death, and excess mortality (LeDeR 2020). 

Mencap (2020) and Diabetes UK’s recent insight work (unpublished) explored the hospital experience of people with learning disabilities during the pandemic. Diabetes UK conducted research in the first wave to inform their work streams (Burr et al., 2021), however in both studies adults with learning disabilities were not identified. There is a gap in the academic literature from adults living with diabetes and learning disabilities perspective which has been confirmed by Diabetes UK’s inpatient leads and a recent literature review.

The insight I gather will be used to inform Diabetes UK inpatient leads, as improving inpatient care is a key area of work. As well as working as a registered dietitian at Diabetes UK I also work one day a week on the co-production arm of the Learning from Lives and Deaths programme, as a research assistant, at Kingston University.

This project has received university ethical approval and to find out more people can contact me at or via my research mobile 07787492287. 


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Community online event : Project Choice – Meaningful employment for people with learning disabilities

The Community of Practice is pleased to welcome Lindsay McCafferty from Health Education England to share her experiences of overseeing Project Choice, a programme to enable young people with learning disabilities to gain competitive marketable skills through work placements.

This will be of particular interest to those in special educational services, who are concerned with employment and employability. Lindsey is also keen to support localities to identify businesses and services that might lead on providing placements, to develop new partnerships across our region.

Details of the event on 7th September, can be found at the Community Eventbrite page. Click the picture below to register.

Click to link to registration page for Project Choice Community Event