NHS Trust teams up with Talkback to help people with learning disabilities eat well and get active

Date: 12/11/2021 | Category: News 2021

We have partnered up with autism and learning disability support charity Talkback to run a community weight loss programme, called Energise, for people with learning disabilities and their carers.

An estimated 61.1% of adults in Buckinghamshire are classified as overweight or obese, slightly lower than the average for England (64%). Excess weight in adults is highest in Aylesbury Vale (64%) and Wycombe (61%). It’s also been recognised for many years that people with learning disabilities are at increased risk of being overweight or obese compared to the general population. The most recent data indicates nationally that 37% of people living with learning disabilities are obese compared to 30.1% of people without learning disabilities.

Energise started this month at the Hive in Wycombe and Walton Court Community Centre in Aylesbury. The 12 sessions, led by dietitians, exercise and learning disability experts, will take place every other week until March 2022. Topics such as eating balanced meals, portion sizes, healthy snacks, triggers to eating and eating out are covered along with an exercise session at each group.  All resources have been tailored to people with a learning disability using easy read handouts and learning through experience, fun games, quizzes and role play.

So far 20 people with learning disabilities have been able to join this pilot phase of the programme. The plan is to expand and develop Energise to run for a year. One care home worker commented that their residents, “came back really excited with their [resources folders]! It was lovely to see. The staff will continue to encourage and support them.”

Trust Specialist Weight Management Dietitian Judi Earl said: “There is a real need in our communities for support of this kind. We know that people with learning disabilities are more likely to have BMIs above the healthy weight range and have low levels of physical activity. This often leads to long term health conditions. We hope this programme will give clients and their carers the knowledge and resources to make positive changes to their diets. We could not have asked for better partners than Talkback, who have brought so much expert knowledge, dedication and enthusiasm to this project.”

Sports and Wellbeing Manager at Talkback Helen Krauze said: “We had a full house at our first Energise session at High Wycombe. Lots of enthusiasm from all who came and great so see so many carers there whose support is vital for the success of the programme. Each session lasts two hours and is packed with a wide range of practical activities, easy read resources, and professional advice. Participants meet every week, alternating between an in-person get together and virtual activities. We also offer regular support outside of the meetings including an exercise programme run by our own coaching team. What a wonderful partnership between Talkback and the Trust, the best I have ever known; a true blend of expertise and real determination to make a difference to people’s lives.”