Hamad Medical Corporation establishes learning disability service
January 19 2021 12:13 PM
Learning Disability Service team- HMC
Learning Disability Service team

Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Mental Health Service (MHS) introduced a new Learning Disability Service (LDS). The objective is to provide specialist assessment and treatment options for adults with Learning Disability (LD) presenting with a mental health condition, and those who exhibit severely challenging behaviour.

The specialist LD Service was piloted in early 2020, but due to Covid-19 restrictions regarding patient visits it was enhanced in December 2020. The service has now been formally launched to support the expansion in mental health service provisions, with a new multidisciplinary team offering outpatients clinics, community outreach services and consultation liaison services with other health service provisions.

Dr Majid al-Abdullah, chair of Psychiatry and medical director of MHS said, "These behaviours can include irritable temper outbursts, hitting or kicking other people or throwing things – it can be any type of behaviour that might be harmful to the person and others around them, and stops them achieving things in their daily life, such as making friends or concentrating on a school or work project.”

“Learning disabilities often encompass communication difficulties and this may contribute to frustration that is exhibited in various challenging behaviors. In people with more severe learning disabilities, the behaviours may be a form of communication with others, and it is important that every effort is made by family, friends and carers to understand that the individual needs help to communicate and manage their emotions. Such behaviours often start in childhood and can become more pronounced in time if left untreated,” added Dr Abdullah.

The service caters to male or female adults (aged 18 and above) with all levels of learning disabilities and have associated mental health conditions along with behaviours that can be challenging for the individual and the people around them.

Iain Tulley, national lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing and CEO of the MHS noted that this new service provides an important addition to Qatar’s expanding mental health and wellbeing services for families: “Our goal is to provide families with appropriate strategies and effective support in managing their loved one’s severely challenging behavior, which can be very stressful for all concerned.”

Dr Mohamed El Tahir, senior consultant psychiatrist at the MHS and LDS Lead explained that that the multi-disciplinary team includes experts who can cover a wide range of cases, both within the hospital system or in the community: “We see adults with a learning disability who may not have had a proper diagnosis or treatment previously but where their behaviour has deteriorated to such an extent that clinical intervention was required. We also care for patients with behavioural problems related to neuro- developmental disorders, or cognitive deterioration leading to dementia.”

The LDS receive referrals from Primary Health Care, Hamad Hospital departments and internal referrals from MHS. The team triage referrals on weekly basis and arrange to see them within appropriate environment and time using standardized models of care and prioritisation. Patients admitted to HMC facilities are seen as a consultation liaison service with their care teams.

Last updated: January 19 2021 08:12 PM

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