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Supporting people with Learning Disabilities, Autism and complex needs

What is a Learning Disability?

The term “Learning Disability (LD)” is used to describe a person who has developmental delay or intellectual disabilities, which are usually evident from birth or early childhood.

There are three core criterias, which must be met for the term learning disability to apply:

  • Significant impairment of intellectual function.

  • Significant impairment of adaptive and or social function, meaning an inability to cope with the daily demands of his/her environment and the expectations of age and culture).

  • Age of onset before adulthood.

Learning disability does not include:

  • The development of intellectual, social or adaptive impairments after the age of 18.

  • Brain injury acquired after the age of 18.

  • Complex medical conditions that affect intellectual and social / adaptive functioning: e.g. dementias, Huntington’s chorea.

  • Specific learning difficulties: e.g. dyslexia, literacy or numeracy problems, or delayed speech and language development.

The term “Learning Difficulties”, which is often used in educational services to describe people with specific learning problems, does not indicate that a person has a learning disability as defined above.

People with learning disabilities may present as having difficulty in:

  • communicating and expressing needs and choices.

  • understanding their diagnosis, treatment options or services available to them.

  • understanding the consequences their decisions can have on their health status.

  • adapting to a hospital environment and the expectations of hospital staff

The aim of the hospital passport is to assist people with learning disabilities to provide hospital staff with important information about them and their health when they are admitted to hospital. 

The hospital passport can be completed and kept at home in case of an emergency admission, deterioration in the individual’s health or can be completed prior to a planned admission when it may also be used to aid assessment and planning.

An adult or child's personal details can be added to the passport by hand or on an electronic version (available below).

For further information about the passports, please contact Brian Evans, Matron for Learning Disability, Autism and complex needs, on 01229 406793 or

Adults' Hospital Passport

Childrens' Hospital Passport

Autism Passport (adults and children)