People with learning disabilities who suffer domestic violence or abuse now have access to “highly commended” guidance on how to cope and where to get help.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust provides mental health and disability services. Its Patient Information Centre, based at St Nicholas’ Hospital in Newcastle, has been “highly commended” in the British Medical Association Patient Information (BMA PI) Awards 2016 Easy Read category. This is for its work on an easy-read guide about domestic violence and abuse.

The guide, titled ‘Domestic Violence and Abuse – Easy Read Information’, has been specially designed by clinicians, and people with learning disabilities themselves, to be easily understood. Using simple language and pictures it offers advice on how to recognise if you are a victim and who can help.

The NTW Patient Information Centre provides a central point of access to appropriate information about health and related services to help people better understand and take control of their health and their treatments.

Patient Information Centre Manager, Karen O’Rourke, said: “We are so pleased that this booklet has been recognised as something that can really help people with learning disabilities understand some of the complex issues surrounding domestic violence and abuse.

“Ensuring that information about health and wellbeing is accessible to as many people as possible is something we focus on at the NTW Patient Information Centre. This praise from the BMA PI Awards is great encouragement that we are on the right path.”

The leaflet is based on a self-help guide written by Dr Lesley Maunder and Dr Lorna Cameron, consultant clinical psychologists who have experience working in this field. It was adapted by voluntary organisation Skills for People Newcastle, then further adapted by NTW’s Easy Read Health Information Group.

The Skills for People programme committee, made up of about 14 people with learning disabilities, checked over the guide to make sure it was suitable and accessible for its intended audience.

Chief executive of Skills for People, Liz Wright, said: “We are delighted that this excellent publication has been recognised by the BMA. Skills for People helps organisations to create easy-read information for people with learning disabilities and others. Our team includes people with learning disabilities.

“The new Accessible Information Standard requires all organisations that give NHS care or adult social care to ensure that everyone should get information in a way that they can understand.”

Judges praised the booklet, one of a series of 23 self-help guides, for being “a good easy-read adaptation of what is a much wordier booklet in this self-help series. This is a nice, simple and clear booklet.”

Domestic Abuse Service Northumberland co-ordinator, Karen Richardson, said: “Domestic abuse is the hidden crime, primarily committed behind closed doors. Some victims feel ashamed, unable to confide in family or friends and trapped.

“By providing information and publicity, highlighting what abuse is, and promoting that help and advice is available, people have the choice to find out more, recognise they are not alone and access services that can change and potentially save lives.”

Research has found that people with an intellectual disability were 1.6 times more likely to experience violence than those who did not have an intellectual disability. In England disabled people experience twice the rate of sexual assault, domestic abuse and stalking than non-disabled people, according to the Office of National Statistics (2014).