Look After Your Health

People with a learning disability often have poorer physical and mental health than other people. This does not need to be the case. Our Family Health Adviser works with adults with learning disabilities and their families to close this health gap.

She can offer home visits for clients with specific health problems to ensure they access the right support.

She can also support unpaid family carers and paid carers to better understand the kind of help the person they care for needs and how to get good information and advice. Help can also be given to support clients and their carers to complete the Mencap Hospital Health Passport.

Our health project aims to:

  • Support patients with learning disabilities to sign up to their GPs Learning Disability Register, ensuring easier access to Annual Health Checks and appointments
  • Support clients with learning disabilities to access the health services they need
  • Promote and facilitate use of the Mencap Hospital Passport to people with learning disabilities and health practitioners
  • Provide small-group learning for people with learning disabilities on the importance of Annual Health Checks and maintaining their health
  • Give advice to help GPs make reasonable adjustments to their practice and premises with the support of the GP Resource pack

To make a referral to our Family Health Adviser, please call 07548 754 197 or email

This service is free thanks to funding through the Better Care Fund managed by Reading Borough Council and the NHS Integrated Care Board.

What is an Annual Health Check?

Annual health checks are for adults and young people with a learning disability aged 14 and over. An annual health check helps people stay well by talking to a doctor, nurse or healthcare assistant about their health and find any problems early.

Who can have an annual health check?

Anyone who is aged 14 or over and who is on their GP’s Learning Disability Register will get an invite once a year for a free annual health check. You can ask to go on this register if you, or the person you care for, has a learning disability.

What happens during the annual health check?

During the health check, the GP or nurse will:

  • do a physical check-up, including weight, heart rate, blood pressure and taking blood and urine samples
  • talk to you about staying well and if any help is needed with this
  • ask about things that are more common if someone has a learning disability, such as epilepsy, constipation or problems with swallowing
  • talk to you about any medication you may be taking
  • check how you are feeling if you have any health problems such as asthma or diabetes
  • check to see if your vaccinations are up to date
  • check if you have any other health appointments, such as physiotherapy or speech therapy
  • ask if your family or carers are getting the support they need
  • help make sure things go well when children move to adult services at the age of 18.

What if my GP doesn’t offer an annual health check?

Most doctors offer annual health checks to people with a learning disability. But they do not have to offer this service. If your GP surgery does not offer this service, ask Helen, Reading Mencap’s Health Adviser for help. Call 0118 966 2518 or email

Making reasonable adjustments

The NHS has to make it as easy for disabled people to use health services as it is for people who are not disabled. This is called making reasonable adjustments.

Ask your doctor if you need any reasonable adjustments, such as:

  • using pictures, large print or simpler words to say what’s happening
  • booking longer appointments or having a carer with you
  • putting an appointment at the beginning or end of the day, if you find it hard to be in a busy waiting room

The reasonable adjustments you need should be written down in a health profile or health action plan that the doctor or nurse can use.

Do you have to have an annual heath check?

No. You don’t have to have an annual health check. However, it is a good idea for those who want to be as healthy as possible. If you, or the person you care for, is worried about having a health check, let the doctor, nurse of healthcare assistant know.

Health Check Action Plans

As part of your annual health check, you should be given a Health Check Action Plan.

A health check action plan should include:

  • goals and plans for future care
  • who is responsible for co-ordination of care and how this is communicated to other professionals and services involved
  • timing of follow up
  • how to access urgent care.

 All actions should be agreed with you and a copy given to you.

If you need help to understand your health action plan, contact Helen, our Family Health Adviser on 07548 754 197 or email

Read our guide to what an Annual Heath check involves.