Friday, 30 August 2019

Introducing your Students' Union officers

As the start of the academic year approaches, we welcome our new Students’ Union officers into their roles. We’ve put this blog together so you can get to know your new elected officers. Remember that they want to make your student experience here at Herts amazing! They represent you and your academic interests; they ensure that if you have any issues on your course or related to your studies that your concerns are heard by the staff. And of course, they organise your club nights at the Forum.

Meet Rida
(Rida Shafqat, President)

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m Rida, the current President of the Students’ Union. I studied Biomedical Engineering here at Herts. I love to play table tennis and watch Netflix whenever I get some free time. One of my favourite TV shows is ‘Friends’!

What do you love most about Herts SU?

I love that the SU represents and puts students first. It’s great to be able to make real change to benefit students’ studies academically and make sure students have the best time at Uni!

What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

Being an International student and what it means to me

Meet Saj
(Muhammad Sajid, Vice President Activities)

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Hi, I’m Sajid, but you can call me Saj! I study Engineering at UH and have taken a year out of my studies to be your VP Activities. I’m an amateur guitarist, globe trotter and enjoy trying different cuisines. I also love making new friends, so feel free to say hi to me if you see me around on campus. 

What do you love most about Herts SU?

I love the friendly environment. I also love that new ideas are always welcomed and appreciated – it’s also a great place to meet new people.

What are you looking forward to the most in the next 10 years?

I’m looking forward to working on my skills, improving myself as a person and working on my start-up.

Meet Farhan
(Farhan Rafique, Vice President Community)

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I have just finished my studies in Law here at UH. I love travelling and was elected three times as your NUS delegate to represent your views and interests on a National level. I hope to carry this on as your VP Community.

What do you love most about Herts SU?

The staff members at the SU are very cooperative and helpful. I’m happy to see that they prioritise students’ issues and take all the reasonable steps to resolve issues as soon as possible.

Small things that make you happy?

Smiling faces and a friendly atmosphere never fail to make me happy.

Meet Amy
(Amy Holloway-Smith, Vice President Education)

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m a Law graduate from Herts, and am delighted to be your current VP Education! Anyone who knows me knows I love baking, so you just might be lucky to get a tasty treat if you come into the SU Office to speak to me

What do you love most about Herts SU?

I love the sense of community. The Students’ Union has helped me to feel more integrated in University life, not only by enhancing my social experience but by providing me with volunteering, skills and job opportunities during my time at UH!

What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?

A spa weekend would be perfect. I’m thinking lazing around in a robe, with an all you can eat buffet breakfast followed by lying down all day with the odd break to get in the jacuzzi and go for a massage. And eat some cake. I like cake.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

People with intellectual disabilities are often not told about their medicines and their potential side effects

Claudia Carr, University of Hertfordshire and Silvana Mengoni, University of Hertfordshire
The 1.5m people in the UK with an intellectual disability experience significant health inequality. Research shows that they are more likely to develop health problems than the general population, they are more likely to have reduced access to healthcare, and they are more likely to receive poorer care.
A 2018 report from the Learning Disability Mortality Review Programme found that people with intellectual disabilities also die a lot younger. On average, men die 23 years earlier and women die 27 years earlier compared with the general population.
Our latest study adds to the evidence of these health inequalities. It shows that many people with intellectual disability, who can make decisions about their everyday life, aren’t given clear information about their medication. As a result, they often don’t understand the drugs prescribed for them or their potential side effects.

Legal consequences

The Accessible Information Standard states that all organisations providing NHS care and publicly funded adult social care must ensure that people with intellectual disability receive information in an accessible format, for example, in easy-read material or pictures. Critically, this also applies to medicines. There are now legal consequences for those who don’t comply.
In 2015, the Supreme Court case of Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board redefined the law on informed consent, putting the patient at the heart of any discussion with a healthcare professional. The judgement states that all healthcare professionals are legally obliged to ensure that patients with the capacity to consent are made aware of the risks of medical treatments. Healthcare professionals who breach this duty can be sued for negligence. Yet, as our study shows, people with intellectual disability are not routinely told about their treatment or the risks it entails.
We found that people with intellectual disability often don’t understand when and how to take their medication, and they don’t understand the potential side effects. This is a significant problem given that 75% of people with an intellectual disability are prescribed drugs compared with 59% of those without intellectual disability.
It is important that the person who is prescribed the medicine takes it as intended by the prescriber. Taking too much or taking it too often may mean that the medicine will not work as well and can increase the risk of side effects.
Some of these side effects may not be immediately obvious and may only become apparent with regular medical tests. It is also essential that the patient is told how to report any issues with their medicines, which could include the medicine failing to work as expected, side effects and problems in taking the medicines, such as difficulty swallowing, which is more common in people with intellectual disabilities.

The Supreme Court redefined the law on informed consent. Willy Barton/Shutterstock

Reducing health inequality

Some things that people with intellectual disabilities say help them to understand their medication include using simpler language, as well as pictures and videos. This helps people understand why they need to take their medication and how to use it correctly.
The Supreme Court decision in Montgomery specifically states that information must be given to patients in a way that they can understand. In doing so, the patient will be able to understand the seriousness of their condition, the risks of any suggested treatment or alternatives, and then provide informed consent. And it is important that healthcare professionals speak directly to the person with intellectual disabilities, not just the carer.
A key message of our research is to put people with intellectual disabilities at the heart of the health service – a message which is now supported by the law. Sometimes this might mean that healthcare professionals will have to spend longer explaining their medication, use different resources, and explain things in simpler language. This will help improve the lives of more then a million people in the UK with an intellectual disability and make a significant contribution to addressing the current health inequalities.The Conversation
Claudia Carr, Senior Lecturer in Medical Law and Ethics, University of Hertfordshire and Silvana Mengoni, Senior Research Fellow, University of Hertfordshire
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.