New approaches to preventing deaths needed

Last day of my first week in Australia, Day 7 of #WCMTLD. I had left my diary clear this morning which I was exceedingly grateful for, my head is buzzing with ideas and reflections and it was good to spend a couple hours in another cafe, Scout’s Honour with a stunning breakfast and some time to answer a few emails and think.

This afternoon I met with Professor Julian Trollor from the Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry at the University of NSW. I’ve known about Prof Trollor’s work for some time and his work on premature mortality and the associated media coverage with Council for Intellectual Disability hit the news just about the same time I was awarded my fellowship. Awesome timing from my perspective.

It was great to spend time with Julian and discuss the similarities, differences and opportunities for working between Australia and the UK. He was able to give me some insight into the appetite for health improvement amongst politicians, the history and context and some of the challenges associated with trying to improve health provision and outcomes for people with an intellectual disability.

As I walked home I mused that the most striking thing for me is how similar things are. How utterly predictable the main causes of deaths of intellectually disabled people are. Whether you’re living in London or Canberra, Wales or New South Wales if you have an intellectual disability there’s a very high chance you’ll die prematurely, lots of years prematurely, and a much higher chance that your death is likely to involve: choking, aspiration pneumonia, epilepsy and of course constipation. Can you imagine dying from constipation, in a civilised society, in 2017.

We have to stop this. Some how. Will continue to muse how… all ideas very welcome.

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