Welcome to the

Scottish
Learning Disabilities
Observatory

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The Observatory has been set up to provide better information about the health and health care of people with learning disabilities and people with autism in Scotland. The Observatory will generate and translate information into knowledge, that is designed to inform actions, practice and policy to benefit people with learning disabilities and people with autism.

More about us

Health and care experiences

In this short film people with learning disabilities tell us about their experiences of health and health care.

News

SLDO film: Reducing avoidable deaths in children and young people with learning disabilities


SLDO researchers have produced a short film which highlights the high rates of death from preventable causes such as choking and chest infections for children and young people with learning/intellectual disabilities.
The film, co-produced with people with learning disabilities and professionals across health, care and research, aims to raise awareness of some key areas for action to reduce avoidable deaths. Watch the film and read more about the research behind it here.

New study looks at the impact of COVID-19 on family carers


A new collaborative study will explore the experiences of family carers of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and co-design an intervention to support their future wellbeing. The research team involves partners at Queen's University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, the University of South Wales and the University of Sheffield with Dr Maria Truesdale from the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory as the Scottish lead.
Find out more about this study. 

SLDO statement on COVID-19 vaccination priority for people with learning disabilities

 

We wholeheartedly welcome the decision by the Scottish Government, announced on 22nd February, to invite all people with learning/intellectual disabilities in Scotland for Covid-19 vaccination as part of priority group 6. We also welcome today’s decision by the UK Government to prioritise all people with learning/intellectual disabilities in England for vaccination. These decisions will bring relief to people with learning/intellectual disabilities and their families.

The Observatory team’s analysis of data on COVID-19 mortality and infection risk for the population with learning/intellectual disabilities in Scotland provided robust evidence to support these decisions. Our recent study shows that compared to the general population, people with learning/intellectual disabilities are at 3 times greater risk of death due to Covid-19, twice as likely to become infected with COVID-19 and twice as likely to have a severe COVID-19 infection.  People with learning/intellectual disabilities already experience significantly worse health outcomes and excess mortality compared to the general population. These inequalities are reflected in this important study.

We are encouraged that the vaccine prioritisation has been amended to include this marginalized population and we will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and health and care professionals to identify ways to further reduce risk of Covid-19 infection for people with learning/intellectual disabilities. 

We stand alongside our colleagues at partner organisations who have worked tirelessly to influence the decision making around vaccine prioritisation and we recognise their invaluable contribution to ensuring that people with learning/intellectual disabilities receive urgently needed care and protection. We would also like to thank Joan McAlpine MSP, Jackie Baillie MSP and Claire Haughey MSP, Minister for Mental Health, for their work in advocating for the needs and rights of people with learning/intellectual disabilities in Scotland.

Published on 24.2.21 

New SLDO study looks at the impact of COVID-19 on people with learning disabilities in Scotland


Researchers at the Observatory recently conducted a study to look at COVID-19 infection and severe outcomes for people with learning disabilities in the first wave of the pandemic, between January and August 2020.

A summary of the preliminary findings from this study is now available.

Latest SLDO research

Reports & publications

 

We publish reports relevant to learning disabilities and autism policy and practice.

View our full list of reports and publications here.

E-newsletter

 

Our e-newsletter is published on a regular basis. If you would like to receive a copy into your inbox, please register below and you will be added to our distribution list for updates.  You can view our e-newsletter archive here.

Population profiles

Population characteristics

Number of people

26,349

with learning disabilities


31,712

with autism


5,295,402

all people


All population information

Health

Percentage of people with very good health

15.2%

with learning disabilities


37.4%

with autism


52.5%

all people


All health information

Housing and accomodation

People with learning disabilities in private households

11,886

Rented from council or housing association


8,927

Private ownership


2,203

Rented privately or living rent free


All housing and accommodation information

Employment and Education

People aged 16 and over with learning disabilities

12,098

Long term sick or disabled


2,460

in paid employment


1,975

students


1,934

retired


2,648

other


All employment and education information

Family

Percentage of people who live with a family

53.3%

with learning disabilities


82.7%

with autism


78.3%

all people


Health and social care spending

2014/15

£250,188,001

Health care spending


£697,310,000

Social care spending


Other topics

Country of birth

People born within the UK

25,599

with learning disabilities


30,689

with autism


4,926,119

all people


Language spoken at home

People speaking Gaelic or Scots

321

with learning disabilities


465

with autism


80,791

all people


Ethnicity

People who are white Scottish

20,875

with learning disabilities


26,842

with autism


4,382,131

all people