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Guidance notes

Use the following guidance notes to help you complete the "grab and go" guide form. The form is available to download in PDF format, for printing and completion.

The Grab and Go guide has been designed in partnership with people with learning disabilities, families and nurses. It gives the information that doctors and nurses will need if you (or somebody you help or care for) go to hospital because of COVID-19 and, for example, are struggling to breathe.

It is not a replacement for the everyday, detailed hospital passport. You should update your hospital passport and take that to hospital along with the grab and go guide if you need to be admitted.

The hospital passport is available to download.

If you need help completing the form

If you need help completing the form, please ask:

You can also sign up for a webinar with Learning Disability England for helpful information.

If you would like to suggest a webinar topic or get a recording of any previous webinars, please email Learning Disability England on

How to complete the grab and go guide form

The information in the form must be short and clear.

Everyone is different but the sections below show some examples to show what kind of information is useful in answer to each question in the form. You must fill in the form to show the best way you (or the person you are helping) can be supported.

The following headings match the parts of the form. Click on a heading for tips on how to complete that part.

I am able to indicate YES and NO to your questions by:

The doctors need to know if you can indicate yes and no without speaking. (People with serious breathing difficulties can't speak easily.)

If you have a unique way of doing this you must write it clearly, for example:

  • I sign yes by clenching my right hand
  • I indicate no by sticking my tongue out

I have previously had the following breathing problems (asthma / history of infections etc):

The doctors need to know your history so they can give you the right treatment.

If you have had breathing problems in the past, list the issues you have had. For example:

  • asthma
  • lots of chest infections
  • pneumonia

Any other things that may compromise my airway, for example past surgery:

The doctor needs to know about any conditions or past surgery that might affect your airways to treat you safely.

For example:

  • smaller airways because of a genetic condition like Down’s syndrome
  • past surgery
  • tracheotomy
  • a stomach procedure, like fundoplasty

You, or the people who support you, will know if you have any problems with your airways.

What you need to know about my other past and current health, for example diabetes, epilepsy etc:

Your medical history is important.

List any health conditions you have now or have had in the past. Include surgery you have had.

I usually take the following medication (include dose of tablets or liquid, or any other way I take medicine):

The doctors need to know this to make sure the medicine they give you works with the medicine you are already taking.

Use the name and dose details that are on the packaging.

If you can, take all your medication with you in a clear plastic bag. If you need any support to take medication, describe that support clearly. For example: 

  • I need my tablet to be crushed in a spoonful of jam
  • Tip my tablets into my mouth one at a time, hand me a glass of juice and stay with me until I have swallowed them. I might need a whole glass of juice

Swallowing and oral care, including how I drink (for example, small amounts or thickened or cooled or any other way I need to take it):

If you have difficulties drinking and swallowing, give clear support instructions to avoid choking and becoming dehydrated.

For example:

  • I need 4 teaspoons of thickener in a cup and to be fed this one teaspoon at a time
  • It will take me 15 minutes to drink a cup of tea
  • I need my drink in a sippy cup. Please remind me to drink every five minutes to keep me hydrated

This is how people usually know I’m in pain:

If you are not able to say when you are in pain and where it hurts, it is important to be specific so that doctors and nurses know when something is wrong. For example:

  • If I say I’ve got a headache, ask me to point to where it is
  • I’m usually in pain when I fidget a lot
  • I might be in pain if I go quiet and avoid eye contact

If I’m worried or upset I may:

If you can’t say what’s wrong, how might you show you are worried or upset? How can someone help or reassure you?

Give clear descriptions of what might happen and what to do about it. For example:

  • If my eyes are darting around and teary, sit with me and let me know what is going on. Ask if I would like to listen to my playlist. Help me to phone or Facetime my mum
  • If I try to leave, I might be feeling overwhelmed. Stay with me and offer quiet reassurance. If possible, lower the lights and reduce distractions

I communicate by:

Good communication is very important. What do people need to know? For example:

  • It takes me a while to understand information and respond. Give me 30 seconds to reply (that feels like ages)
  • Use easy words and short sentences. Give me information in small chunks
  • It’s complicated – check my detailed hospital/communication passport

My hearing and my eyesight (for example, hearing aids, glasses or anything else you need to help you hear or see):

Is there anything people need to know that will help you understand each other? For example:

  • My hearing isn’t brilliant, especially when there is background noise. So get my attention before you start speaking to me
  • I need information in a large font (say what size if you know)
  • Please clean my glasses every morning and evening

Top tips for family and paid carers

You can also check the Learning Disability England website for updates and easy information.