Improving physical and Mental Health section RCPsych Logo

Physical Health in Adults



For primary care





For patients


  •  Extensive source of information for patients and carers on medical conditions and medication. Widely used by GPs to provide information for patients.


  • Map of Medicine: health guides for patients from NHS choices Health professionals can register to access technical information for patient care


  • Easy Health: Information on health for people with learning disabilities with leaflets and videos


  • Elfrieda Society: Materials by people with learning difficulties, for people with learning difficulties and for people who work with them. Leaflets on several health topics with illustrations for sale


  • Books Beyond Words are books for people with learning disabilities on various health related topics 


  • Only the best: Information on antipsychotic and mood stabiliser medication from RETHINK.  



  • Medication leaflets for patients:  Comprehensive resource from Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust pharmacy information site,  with leaflets suitable for people taking psychotropic medication 





Physical Health Screening Tools
  • Rethink Mental Illness Physical health resources. Health screening tool with additional patient and carer handbook and e-learning resources. 


  • Cardiff health check:  Health screening questionnaire for people with learning disabilities with a list of screening questions for physical and space to record physical examination.



  • OK Health Check: Enables carers of people with learning disabilities to record their observations of the physical health of people with learning disabilities. Website gives information on how to complete the OK Health Check


Records and charts



  • Patient at Risk Score (PAR score): PAR scores aid recognition of the acutely ill or ‘deteriorating’ patient. Physical observations are rated and are given a score that can be used to trigger when to call for medical assistance. If using PAR scores, staff should receive training in the PAR system. It is recommended that standard forms are used throughout an organisation. The PAR system link here has a copy of a Physical Observation chart. Other PAR systems may be available locally. Example produced by Worcestershire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust



  • Turning chart: Chart for recording a patient’s movement and turning regime to prevent pressure sores developing is available from the Judy Waterlow website.


Measurement and rating scales

Weight shape and nutritional status








  • Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST): Useful for routine identification of malnutrition, for those at risk of malnutrition and obesity in adults. Five steps to score risk. Measure BMI, score weight loss, score effect of acute disease, calculate overall malnutrition score and develop management plans. Tool has BMI chart and alternative measurement tools


Cardiovascular risk calculators



  • QRISK® intervention: calculation of the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes over the next 10 years. This shows the effects of making changes such as stopping smoking and losing weight




  • Positive Cardio Metabolic Health: A framework for early interventions for the physical health of patients taking psychotropic medication. Curtis et al adapted by Helen Lester 





  • Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q):  The PAR-Q questionnaires are mainly administered by exercise professionals to assess a person’s physical health before taking exercise, to identify contraindications to exercise and to identify people who should seek a medical opinion before exercise.  A standard PAR-Q can be adapted for use in mental health in-patient settings e.g. by adding questions on psychotropic medication.  







Pressure Ulcers


  • Turning Chart available from Waterlow website for recording nursing interventions to turn patients



Respiratory Function


Side Effects of Psychotropic Medication





  • Lundbeck Institute: Numerous rating scales can be found on this website for mental state, quality of life and side effects of psychotropic medication


Sexual Health



  • Hearing Screening Questionnaire:  Ten ways to recognise deafness and indicates when a formal hearing test is advisable.  National Institute of Health and National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders·    


  • Eye tests: Entitlement to FREE eye tests on the NHS from NHS Choices.  


Motor and Process Skills



Sleep Apnoea

  • Epworth Sleepiness Scale.  Sleep apnoea is associated with obesity. To identify excessive sleepiness use this scale (range for scores 0-24), scores >9 indicate a high risk of sleep apnoea



  • Sleep Apnoea BMJ article Easily missed? Obstructive sleep apnoea in adults


Facilitating communication for people with learning difficulties


  • Makaton uses signs and symbols to teach communication, language and literacy skills to people with communication and learning difficulties. Official website with all resources


  • Widgit Symbols have been designed in collaboration with language and communication experts, and enable individuals of all ages with communication challenges, learning difficulties and English as an Additional Language (EAL) to gain access to written information and communicate more independently. 


  • Change People is a charity run by people with Learning Disabilities for people with Learning Disabilies. Health related pictures and many other resources that can be purchased to use in easy read literature
  • Books Beyond Words is a series of picture books that has been developed to make communicating easier for these people, and to enable discussion about difficult topics. Supporting text and guidelines are also provided for carers, supporters and professionals. The series covers many health related topics and is particularly useful for people with learning (intellectual) difficulties.


  • Easy-Read-Online makes websites, web pages and other digital applications that are easy for people who have difficulty in reading and writing


  • Dobson's Choice is an off shoot of easy read, to help people with learning disabilities to use computers and to find websites that are good for them.



  • Communication matters is the UK Chapter of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.  Website offering information and down loadable leaflets on communication:


  • FAIR Multimedia publishes a range of health materials specifically designed for people with learning disabilities





Further reading >


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