A new strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of the 120,000 Scots with learning disabilities has been published.

Scotland’s second learning disability strategy, The Keys to Life, was developed with COSLA and places a strong focus on ensuring that all health professionals can better meet the needs of people with learning disabilities and enable them to be part of their community.

It aims to address the fact that people with learning disabilities live 20 years less on average than the general population.

It also supports the introduction of befriending to prevent people with learning disabilities from being isolated as a recent study shows only one in three people with a learning disability can name a friend.

In launching the strategy Falkirk West MSP and Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said:

“People with learning disabilities tell us that they feel more accepted and valued in their communities than ever before. This is something that as a nation we can be proud of.

“By launching a second learning disability strategy, the first country in the UK to do so, we are outlining our commitment to ensuring that people with learning disabilities get the support they need to stay healthy and feel part of our society.

“We want all health professionals, not just those who work in specialist learning disability posts, to understand the needs of people with learning disabilities to be able to respond appropriately.
“Through delivery of this strategy more people with learning disabilities will be supported to better engage with health services, from having longer GP consultations to attending vital screening programmes.

“This strategy outlines our aspiration to have a health service that is committed to changing the fact that the average life expectancy for someone with a learning disability is 20 years less than the general population.”