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Looking after your health

An important part of becoming more independent is an understanding of your health needs and what you can do to stay healthy and fit.

As a child, our parents / carers tend to know what our health needs are as well as having important information about our previous health needs. As part of your independence building you will need to gain and record this information in a way that is useful for you. Things which may be important to know are:

  • General practitioner (GP) details – the name of your doctor, the surgery name, address and telephone number, and the days and time that the doctor's surgery is open
  • Dentist details – the name of your dentist, the dentist surgery name, address and telephone number, and the days and time that the dentist surgery is open
  • Optician details – the name of your optician, the optician's practice name, address and telephone number, and the days and time that the optician's practice is open
  • Details of other health professionals involved in your health care, such as, audiologist, chiropodist, physiotherapist.  Again knowing their name, where they work, such as the hospital, and their telephone number would be useful
  • Your medical history – when you go to see a health professional, such as a doctor in the hospital, it will sometimes help if they know what health issues you have had before, ie had mumps, and what continuing health needs you may have, such as asthma, diabetes or not able to swallow tablets and what help you are getting to manage your continuing health needs
  • Medicine – the name of the medicines you currently take, what it is for, what the dose is, how frequently you take the medicine, do you need to take with food and if you have any bad side effects from taking the medicine
  • Allergies – is there anything you are allergic too, such as bee stings or penicillin?
  • Immunisation history – what have you been immunised against, ie measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and have you had any required boosters?
  • Family health history – if your close family members have suffered from certain health conditions, such as heart problems, stroke or cancer, it may mean that your doctor might want to check you for any signs of these

This is a lot of information to keep, luckily for people in Norfolk with a learning disability there is a scheme called the personal health book which is provided for you to keep this information in and use when you visit health professionals. You can also use this personal health template (pdf - 1.74mb) to record your details if you do not have a personal health book.

Staying healthy and fit can make a big difference to all parts of your independence as well as your ability to be part of the community and enjoying being in work. There are also simple things you can do to improve and stay healthy and many venues all over Norfolk are ready to support you to make positive changes to your lifestyle.

Having an occasional drink can be part of a social experience or a nice accompaniment to a meal.  But what is the safe limit for you? Drinking regularly above this limit could lead to serious health problems including cancer and stroke.  There could also be problems if you are on regular medication, and alcoholic drinks normally have lots of calories so can also impact on any diet you are on.

To stay healthy or to improve health, we need to do two types of physical activities each week: aerobic (raise your heart rate and make you breath faster) and muscle strengthening.  The amount you need to do depends on your age, guidelines can be found on the NHS Choices website. 

If you feel that you are inactive or have a stable medical condition you can ask your General practitioner (GP) for an exercise referral for an Active Norfolk exercise class or Gym based Scheme, where there are coaches who can help you on your way to becoming healthier and fitter. To find other exercise opportunities:

Eating too much food or too many bad foods could make you put on weight or increase to risk of certain diseases, ie type 2 diabetes, heart disease.  It can also affect your confidence and lead to problems sleeping. 

Being underweight can also be bad for your health, contributing to a weakened immune system or fragile bones.

To find out more information on good foods, how much you should weigh and understanding food labels try the NHS Choices Healthy eating website.

You can also try your hand at healthy cooking by attending a free (some conditions apply) cookery course run by The Joy of Food

My weight

What weight should I be? What is BMI (Body Mass Index) and what BMI should I have?

For most of us there are times in our lives when we feel stressed, anxious, overwhelmed or find it difficult to cope.

Unfortunately trying to build up your independence may put you in a situation where these feelings can start to become a barrier to your success.

So it is important to know where you can go for support, beyond that of your parents / carers:

If you are aged 14 or above and have a moderate, severe or profound learning disability your general practitioner (GP) may offer you a learning disabilities annual health check. The purpose of this check is to pick up any health concerns early enough to treat.

Having sex, thinking about having sex or just curious? It is a normal part of growing up and can play a very important part in our relationships – it can also be very confusing! So where can you find out information on contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases, how to say no if you are not ready or why am I attracted to both boys and girls?

  • NHS Choices Sex and young people – information about all aspects of sexual relationships
  • C-Card scheme – provides free condoms to young people
  • MAP - provide advice about sex and relationships
  • Your general practitioner (GP) – doctors' surgeries may offer a range of information and services to do with sexual health, not all surgeries offer all of the services so it is best to check with them first


It is never too late to stop smoking and here is a reminder of the benefits of going smoke free:

  • You will be healthier
  • You will have more money
  • Your breath and clothes won’t smell of smoke
  • You are likely to live longer

For more information on free NHS stop smoking services, self-help top tips to stop smoking, stop smoking without putting on weight and It’s never too late to go smoke free.


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