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The Charter for Health Inclusion
The National Development Team for Inclusion is a not for profit organisation working to enable people at risk of exclusion to live the life they choose. They work with policymakers, services and communities to bring about ‘change that leads to better lives’. The team has released a report on the development and progress of a Charter for Health. It is aimed primarily at assisting people with learning disabilities, but also applicable to other groups potentially exposed to exclusion.
People at risk of exclusion can include people with learning disabilities, older people, young people and their families, and people with mental health difficulties.
The Learning Disability Public Health Observatory has identified a lower uptake of health services by people with disability, and this inequality is associated with social factors such as poverty, poor housing, unemployment, isolation and discrimination. This led to work between the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) and the National Care Forum, to develop and implement the Health Charter.
Signing up to the Health Charter is a way for services to reduce inequality, ensure regulatory compliance, and overall bring about better services for people who might otherwise be excluded.
Progress is measured through self-assessment, and with the use of the Health Equality Framework, an outcomes based tool.
The VODG website gives many examples of good outcomes arising from the use of the Charter. It has also stimulated local meetings of services and agencies where good practice and progress can be shared and encouraged. The input of people using services is clearly seen as central to taking the inclusion work forward.
The Charter is also available on the VDOG website, and covers staff training, supporting people to access health care, use of health action plans, and most importantly listening to, and acting on, what people themselves say.
Policy in Scotland
The Health Charter has resonances with the Scottish Government policy on learning disability. This policy is given in the document ‘Keys to Life’. It was introduced in 2013 as a ten year national development program aimed at similar equality and inclusion targets.
The recommendations of the Scottish policy included:
- Human rights
- Health and commissioning of public services
- Independent living
- Shift the culture and keeping safe
- Break the stereotypes
- People with profound and multiple learning disabilities
- Criminal justice
- Complex care
It is good to see these UK wide policy and practice initiatives being put in place. Community Care brought new perspectives on the care for previously excluded groups. The Heath Charter, ‘Keys to Life’ and similar initiatives are taking involvement and inclusion forward as points for us all to be aware of in our work and practice.
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