#BreakingBarriers in hospital

As Winter approaches, more of us suffer from seasonal illnesses such as the common cold and flu. But what happens when you become too poorly to stay at home and need to go to hospital? 

For most, being in hospital when poorly can offer a sense of relief – being in a safe pair of hands and getting the best possible care.  

For someone with a learning disability, being in hospital can be a very frightening and lonely experience. We commonly see hospital patients with learning disabilities who: 

  • don’t know why they are in hospital
  • haven’t had their treatment options explained to them 
  • are unable to communicate their needs to hospital staff 
  • have arrived at hospital without essential medications and health notes  
  • are staying in hospital without any personal belongings such as clothing or communication aids 

While these issues might heighten a patient’s discomfort in hospital, alarmingly they might also contribute to them not receiving the correct care and treatment. Something that can prove fatal in the most extreme cases. 

There are a number of things that we can do to ensure that the best possible care is given whenever we visit a hospital. 

Fill in your Hospital Passport

A Hospital Passport is a booklet that contains important information on existing health conditions and medications, communication preferences and limitations and other essential information.

A Hospital Passport should be taken to all appointments to assist medical staff. This Winter, our Sunnybank Advocacy team are working hard to ensure all of our members have a completed Hospital Passport. 

If you don’t already have one, or if you would like some help to fill yours in, please let us know and we will try to support you. 

Advocacy Manager Annie holds a Hospital Passport and a ‘Sunny Bag’

Pack a hospital bag

Although it’s unlikely that you will need to go to hospital, it’s always a good idea to have a bag of essential items ready to grab in an emergency. Your hospital bag should be kept in an easy to remember place and should include your Hospital Passport as well as things such as pyjamas, slippers, underwear, communication aids (e.g. glasses, hearing aids, picture cards), hand sanitiser, a charged mobile phone, things that you enjoy such as a puzzle book or colouring pens and some sweets. 

Having this bag ready means that you will have everything you need to make a hospital visit more comfortable.  

Many of our members have recently received a ‘Sunny bag’ from the Sunnybank Advocacy team, filled with some essentials to help begin packing a hospital bag.  

We’d love to hear your suggestions. What do you like to pack that makes your hospital visits more comfortable? Comment below and share your top tips. 

Ask for a Learning Disability Nurse

Most hospitals have specialist nurses who support patients with learning disabilities. 

Surrey Borders and Partnership have specialist learning disability nurses who work across Surrey’s five general hospitals to make sure people with a learning disability get the support they need when they visit hospital for an emergency or planned appointment. 

To discuss your needs with the SABP team, you can call them on 01372 202 100 (Monday to Friday) or 0300 5555 222 for out of hours. 

If you know in advance that you will be going to hospital, it is possible to ask your GP to arrange this for you. If not, your Hospital Passport will let the hospital staff know that you require this additional support. 


If you find yourself in hospital this winter and aren’t receiving the care you need, please let someone know; a nurse, a carer or a member of the Sunnybank Team. 

Remembrance Sunday

This year, to commemorate Remembrance Sunday, the Sunnybank Drama Group have recorded a special message to tell us all about the importance of the day.

Listen here: