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4 December 2023

Growing Older with Learning Disabilities Annual Conference 2023: Preventing avoidable deaths: Stopping people with learning disabilities dying younger

Bild was delighted to host the annual Growing Older with Learning Disabilities (GOLD) conference. The conference was held online on 8 November, bringing together people with lived experience, familycarers, practitioners, researchers and professionals. This entirely virtual event incorporated a range of keynote speakers and practical workshops focusing on what can be done to reduce health inequalities that lead to early deaths for people with learning disabilities. These varied and thoughtful presentations focused on practical solutions to issues of health inequalities and emphasised the importance of seeing the person before their learning disability. We would like to thank all our speakers, workshop hosts, chairs and delegates for all their contributions to the event.

The conference opened with ‘LeDeR: Learning from lives and deaths – people with a learning disability and autistic people’ presented by Dr Emily Handley Cole. This talk explored the findings of the LeDeR report through the tears, with particular focus on how things have changed since the first report was published.  

Jabeer Butt, CEO of the Race Equality Foundation gave a keynote speech titled ‘Time for action: preventing poor experiences and outcomes for people with a learning disability from a Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic background.’ He spoke on the ways in which people from BAME communities experience health inequalities and how this can be compounded by a person having a learning disability. 

Towards the end of the day we heard from Josje Shoufour, who presented her work on reducing frailty in people with learning disabilities in a speech titled ‘Ageing and Frailty in People with Learning Disabilities’. She explained how various issues of frailty, including dementia, disproportionately affect people with learning disabilities and the research she is conducting into what can be done to reduce these issues.  

The conference explored wider topics including: 

  • Making the LeDeR report easier to understand: The work of the Staying Alive and Well Group from Irene Tuffrey-Wijne, Professor of Intellectual Disability & Palliative Care at Kingston University and Richard Keegan-Bull Research Assistant at Kingston University 
  • Why should I care about aspiration pneumonia? With Una Monaghan, Associate Medical Director and Clinical Director at Hertfordshire Community Trust 
  • Working together to make changes that matter with Gary Bourlet, Membership and Engagement Lead at Learning Disability England, Phil Hughes, Self-advocate representative at Learning Disability England and Marianne Selby-Boothroyd, Development Director at Certitude. 
  • Good Health – Good Lives Building Change Together with Kate Brackley, Learning Disability Advisor at Bild and Chair of Bild for the Future  
  • Making Sure our Medicines are safe:  A Focus on Antipsychotics with Danielle Adams, Mental Health Pharmacist 
  • Flourishing Lives with Prof. Sara Ryan, Professor of Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University and members of Flourishing Lives including Alan Spalding, Angeli Vaid, Beth Richards and Rebecca Spalding 

Delegates were encouraged to submit questions for regular Q&As thoughout the day, to comment on discussion boards and to engage actively in the workshops. Comments from delegates included: 

“Pneumonia and oral hygiene was informative and will lead to a change in my practice.”  

“The chairs did a wonderful job helping everyone reflect, well done.” 

“Loads of useful presentations & fab presenters.” 

Bild would like to thank the speakers, workshop leaders and delegates who made this event a success.  

If you would like to keep up to date with Bild’s work on health inequalities and growing older with learning disabilities, you can join our mailing list here.  

You can also take advantage of discounts on future events, as well as a variety of other discounts and benefits, by becoming a Bild member today. Bild members have exclusive access to Working Together to Improve Support: The Bild Members’ Event 2023.