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Purple is the colour of empowerment

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A campaign to give people with learning disabilities fairer access to high-quality health and social care services has been launched in Hertfordshire.

The Purple Strategy, developed by the health liaison team at Hertfordshire CC, aims to prevent people with learning disabilities being disadvantaged by others’ lack of understanding of their needs.

A purple star brand has been developed with service users and stakeholders to highlight quality services that have been reasonably adjusted to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities. Services meeting a specific set of requirements, including competency-based training to ensure effective engagement, will be able to display the purple star logo.

The colour purple has been chosen for the campaign as it is the colour of the folders people with learning disabilities in the area use to keep all their personal health information in one place.

There has been a widespread campaign to raise awareness of the purple strategy and the purple star, led by people with learning disabilities and supported by the health liaison team. A group called the Purple All Stars has developed a rap called ‘Teach’ to help get the message across. And the evidence is that this message is being heard.

Hertfordshire is the first county to have all GP practices signed up to offer an annual health check to people with learning disabilities. The focus will now shift to ensuring that those checks identify and address health needs and therefore improve health outcomes for this vulnerable group.

The other side to raising the awareness of professionals is supporting people with learning disabilities to ensure they understand what to expect from an annual health check and when to seek support from different services. The use of the purple folder and the work of the health liaison team and other professionals is helping with this.

Ensuring professionals understand how to make reasonable adjustments in the care and support they offer and helping people with learning disabilities understand what to expect and when to seek help make it more likely that good-quality services will be delivered.

Sarah Pickup is outgoing president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services

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