To mark Learning Disability Week (15 to 21 June), Healthwatch Harrow spoke to our veteran campaigner Brendan Chivasa about his experience of the covid-19 lockdown and his thoughts about the local health and social care services available to him at this time.

Brendan is an active member of the Harrow Mencap self-advocate group, who has campaigned on various issues such as environmental protection and improving health and social care for people with a learning disability.

He is due to start work on re-launching a campaign for a permanent, full-time learning disability nurse at Northwick Park Hospital in response to the 134% rise in deaths of people with a learning disability nationwide this year as reported by the Care Quality Commission. At present there is just one nurse shared between Northwick Park and at least two other hospitals. Brendan is happy with the support he has received from the learning disability nurse, but believes Harrow residents would benefit immensely from a permanent one based at their local hospital.

So Brendan how has your experience of the lockdown been?

My experience of the lockdown has been difficult because I’ve been stuck indoors for a long time. It takes time to understand why I’m in lockdown. Usually I like to go out but can’t because of the lockdown. So the lockdown has been so hard and depressing.

Do you feel listened to by local health and social care professionals at this time?

I have been talking to an LD (learning disability) nurse, who supports people with a learning disability, she’s able to understand the way I feel. I feel that I’ve been helped a lot and listened to a lot. At the end of the day, it’s not an easy time at all for anyone, but it’s been an especially difficult for people with a learning disability.   

If you would like to find out more about the learning disability nurse campaign you can contact Harrow Mencap’s Engagement Manager Jordan Creed on [email protected] or 020 8869 8484.