Health Passport

Summary

The Health passport is a document which contains information about appropriate means of communication, support needs and wishes. It has been created for health professionals to best communicate and make appropriate decisions about the care of people with disabilities and other special needs.

Issue addressed

Support in health care decisions.

Background information

The use of the the Health Passport has been developed as part of a strategy developed  in the United Kingdom to improve  communication with health care providers. A Health Passport has more recently been established in New Zealand by the Health and Disability Commission.

Description of practice

A Health Passport is a document held by the person with a disability or their carer, which they give to healthcare providers when they enter the hospital, whether for outpatient or inpatient services. The Health Passport has a record of their health condition and of other issues such as the medications they receive and previous consultations. Several templates for health passport have been created in different countries.

The New Zealand model contains information about communication, basic medical needs and support for decision-making and important people, as well as safety needs and support for daily activities. Another model used in the UK is also quite comprehensive. It can include lists of what the person likes or dislikes, from physical contact to their favorite type of drink, as well as their interests.

The Kent University hospitals also offer an easy-to-read comprehensive passport. The Easy Health website also contains a (non-exhaustive) list with different examples of health or hospital passports.

Analysis

No academic evaluations of the Health Passport have been completed, but one primary care trust in the UK surveyed people with intellectual disability, their support workers and family to determine the success of the passport and how it might be improved (Ridgeway Learning Disability NHS Partnership, 2008). Although the response rate was low (12.6%), and not everyone answered all the questions, the survey provided a picture of the way the passport had been used. It was generally thought to be a good idea and made information easy to understand. The respondents also found it to be a useful communication tool with professionals.

This is of course a ‘soft tool’, which does not replace the individual work and approach of health care professionals. In our views, it can be a very useful instrument provided that it is endorsed by the health care authorities and properly disseminated, so that health care providers get used to working with it.

Further reading

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Childrenwithalearningdisability/Pages/Going-into-hospital-with-learning-disability.aspx
http://www.hdc.org.nz/about-us/disability/health-passport/download-your-health-passport
http://www.easyhealth.org.uk/listing/hospital-passports-(leaflets)
http://www.ekhuft.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/about-us/boards-and-committees/trustwide-safeguarding-group/people-with-learning-disabilities/my-healthcare-passport/

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