Positive Action to Promote Healthy Lifestyles for People with Learning Disabilities

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) has launched a Heart Health toolkit for training staff and volunteers who work with people with a learning disability.

The toolkit, which promotes a healthy lifestyle, will be used to deliver an eight-week heart health programme. It focuses on the key messages for keeping your heart healthy by promoting healthy lifestyle choices such as maintaining a healthy weight through increased physical activity and healthy eating which will in turn reduce the likelihood of developing coronary heart disease (CHD).

Sabrina Lynn, Senior Health Improvement Specialist with the Northern Trust and Northern Obesity Partnership Co-Ordinator said:

“61% adults in NI are overweight/obese and people with learning disabilities are much more likely to be either obese or overweight than the general population. The Northern Obesity Partnership recognises that as obesity is a major risk factor in CHD the Heart Health toolkit will be an essential resource to support work within the Northern Area to address the high levels of overweight and obesity within the learning disability population.

“The plan is to initially train staff within the NHSCT who are working with people with learning disabilities in a range of settings including adult, base and satellite centres and supported living. These staff will then be supported to deliver the eight-week programme within their particular facility. In order to further embed the messages staff will also be offered training in the regional ‘I Can Cook It’ programme and ‘Step by Step’ walking resources.”

The toolkit was funded by the Public Health Agency obesity funding as part of its ‘A Fitter Future for All 2012-2022’ framework for preventing and addressing overweight and obesity in Northern Ireland. It has been in development for a number of years and involved partnership working with Cookstown Hearty Lives, the previous Cookstown District Council, Active Communities and a number of NHSCT learning disability programmes of care team – dietetics, physiotherapy, health facilitators, speech and language and the health improvement team.

Alongside this work, the Northern Trust is developing a strategy for the wellbeing of people with learning disabilities living in the Trust area. It will set strategic direction and identify actions to be delivered over the next few years. Reducing levels of overweight and obesity has been set out as one of the four priorities.

7th January 2016

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