Women with learning disabilities (LD) are not well informed about breast cancer and uptake of breast screening in this group is very low. As a lead clinical nurse specialist at Avon Breast Screening, I’m working to change this.
We offer women with LD an appointment to come to have a chat with us and see the breast screening unit, so they can see the mammogram machine and how it works.
Public Health England (PHE) has also developed easy read guidance accompanied by images explaining what happens when a woman comes for a mammogram.
But we wanted to do more to reach a wider audience, so we came up with the idea of making a short film about the breast screening process.
The biggest difference between this film and other films about breast screening for women with LD is that we wanted to involve women with LD.
We wanted to make sure their voices, true feelings, fears and experiences about having a mammogram came across clearly. The aim was to take the fear out of going for breast screening.
Video features variety of voices
Working with biggerhouse film, it has taken about 4 years from securing the funding to finishing the film.
We wanted a variety of women with LD in the film – someone who had never had a mammogram, someone who had to come back for a recall and someone who had breast cancer diagnosed via screening.
The LD liaison nurses from Bath and North East Somerset did a brilliant job helping us to find women with LD who were willing to be in the film.
During 3 days of workshops with the women, the filmmaker asked about their concerns and worries relating to breast screening and worked with them to develop a main message for the film.
They came up with:
Do the test – go for it!
While breast screening is always an individual choice, this message encourages women with LD to not be scared of screening and have the test if they want to.
They put together a detailed script and began 5 days of intensive filming in different locations.
At times it was tough for everybody involved, as lines needed to be repeated until they were perfect. But after 2 months of careful editing the film was finally finished.
We are very happy with the final product because it shows clearly what happens during a mammogram.
We hope this film will help take away the fear of having a mammogram and, even more importantly, make screening more accessible to women with LD wherever they are in the country.
PHE has published guidance for health professionals to support women with LD to access breast screening and guidance to support the health system to reduce inequalities in screening.
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