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Patients with Special Needs

Coronavirus Outbreak
Visiting Dorset County Hospital has now been suspended with immediate effect until further notice. 

At the bottom of this page are some easy read resources, but the Community Learning Disability Teams may well have more available.

The suspension on visiting will mean that where carers, paid or unpaid, may have supported individuals in hospital in 'normal' circumstances this will now need to be carefully assessed on an individual basis and agreed with the admitting ward team.

We appreciate that this may increase anxiety on behalf of the individual as well as their carers so we must do all we can to try and minimise this as best we can. To that end we recommend the following:

  • Please ensure that individuals have an up to date 'This Is Me, My Care Passport' , please include ideas and detail on how to support emotionally and psychologically whilst in hospital and away from familiar people. Other key areas:  Likely ability to make health decisions - what helps the person make a decision; Person with Deputyship, Lasting Power of Attorney; circle of support for best interest decisions; Communication

  • If the person is very anxious or may display challenging behaviour especially in a strange environment without the support of familiar and skilled carers, please liaise with the Community LD Team, Intensive Support Team around strategies that may help whilst in hospital (ward staff are not necessarily all skilled in clinical holding or Positive Behavioural Support) and please be mindful that this may possibly include the need for sedation, if it is in the person's best interest in the particular circumstances

  • Where the person is able, are there other means of staying in touch - such as using an iPad, Face Time, email, telephone calls and so on

  • Please provide one point of contact with whom hospital staff can liaise for support and advice as well as give you updates

  • Perhaps prioritise those at high risk, with underlying conditions, particularly respiratory, swallowing difficulties, PEGs (risk of aspiration pneumonia) and so on, to review with GP, Community LD Teams and create a community health support plan to avoid hospital attendance if at all possible

  • Please try and have those difficult conversations around 'what if…' - for some individuals doctors may need to make decisions around treatment escalation plans and Do Not Attempt Resuscitation plans not because the person has a learning disability but because of their clinical and physical health issues

  • If you have people who are at high risk and it is a possibility that they may come into hospital, in the worst case, then please do send it their 'This Is Me, My Care Passport'  and we can ensure that the Emergency Department has it on file. Please send to and also

If you have additional needs, which may be related to a disability or difficulty, that you, or a carer or relative/friend would like to discuss with us, you are welcome to contact the ward or department you are coming to and staff will be pleased to help. Please do this only a day or two before your visit so that a note can be added to your medical records.

Patients with a Learning Disability or Autism

Being admitted or attending a hospital appointment can be frightening, confusing and stressful. For people with a learning disability or autism these feelings can be magnified.

Hospitals can be noisy and have very bright lights. If this is something that causes you distress or anxiety, it may be worth bringing in some music that you can listen to with headphones, or even some ear defenders or ear plugs. Sun visors, baseball caps or sungladsses can also help with the bright lights.

If you would like to talk to someone about your admission or appointment before you come in please contact:

  • Jo Findlay, Learning Disability and Mental Capacity Act Advisor, 01305 253274.
  • Sarah Cake, Adult Safeguarding Lead, 01305 253274.
  • ​Patient Advice and Liaison Service, 0800 7838058.

They can put you in contact with the ward sister or hospital champion to help smooth your journey.

If you have a ‘This is Me, Hospital Passport’ please bring it in and to show staff.
You can download the passport here.

If you have a ‘Yellow Health Book’ please bring it in too.

Here are some easy read leaflets which may be helpful:

Going into Hospital

About Your Operation

Leaving Hospital

Outpatient Communication Tool

Coming into the Emergency Department​

Information on Staying Healthy, Tests and Treatments​

The Learning Disability Mortality Review Programme (LeDeR)​

The Community Team for Learning Disabilities can also help before, during and after your stay or visit to hospital.

You may also find these websites useful:

People First Dorset

Dorset Learning Disability Partnership Board website

Mencap's Easy Health website

Dorset Mental Capacity Act Team

Dorset Advocacy ​​


We recognise and value the role of patient carers and will respect our patients’ wishes with regard to their carers’ involvement in consultations and treatment.

Advice for carers: Communicating the signs that a person you care for is unwell - SBAR tool.​

Wheelchair access

All our buildings are accessible to wheelchair users. If you need directions please ask a member of staff.

Guide dogs

Guide Dogs for people with visual impairment and Hearing Dogs for the deaf are welcome in all areas.

Parking for Blue Badge Holders

Allocated parking spaces are located close to all hospital entrances. Blue Badge holders do not have to pay for parking.

Go to our Getting Here page for a map of Dorset County Hospital which shows the sloped disabled access route and where the disabled parking spaces are.​