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Emergency planning

No sibling wants to think about their disabled brother or sister being admitted to hospital. It can be an unbearable thought. But it is worth remembering that thinking about it does not make it more likely to happen, it can only help you to be more prepared.

At this time, some adult siblings of people with learning disabilities and/or autism are supporting their brother or sister to put an emergency plan in place. We acknowledge that this is not an easy topic for siblings to face and can be very difficult to raise with parent(s) too.

Resources that may help:

Hospital visiting

Most hospitals have stopped or significantly limited visits. You will need to call the specific ward and speak to the nurse in charge to discuss whether you can visit your brother or sister in hospital or not.

Hospital care

Mencap have produced information for healthcare professionals, to help treat patients with a learning disability during the coronavirus outbreak. If you are worried about the level of care your disabled brother or sister is receiving and you feel it is a safeguarding concern, remember that you can still report this to the hospital safeguarding team.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have updated their guidance on COVID-19 and critical care (also known as intensive care). The new guidance states that people with stable long-term disabilities (for example, cerebral palsy), learning disabilities or autism should not be screened using the usual Clinical Frailty Tool. Any decisions about whether a person with those conditions such be admitted to critical care, should be made on an individual basis. You can read more about these changes here and read the full guidance here.

Radiant research have produced guidance documents on Covid-19 and learning disability (also referred to as ‘intellectual disability’).

Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate (DNAR) decisions

Some siblings have told us that the coronavirus outbreak has prompted their disabled brother or sister’s care home, supported living setting or GP to ask them about a DNAR decision. This can be extremely upsetting for siblings and can feel very ‘out of the blue’.

It is important to remember that blanket policies about DNAR decisions cannot be made. For example, a doctor cannot say that all people with a particular condition should have a DNAR in place. Any DNAR decisions must be made on an individual basis, and involve the individual and their families.

More information:


This page was last updated: October 28th 2020

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