New picture book to combat constipation and reduce health inequalities for people with learning disabilities

A new wordless story has been published by charity Beyond Words to get people talking about poo!

It’s been estimated that up to 50% of people with learning disabilities may suffer from constipation, compared to about 10% of the general population. Constipation can be easy to treat if it is identified early, but without prompt treatment the condition can cause pain, distress and in extreme cases death.

We all need to get used to having conversations about poo so that problems can be picked up and treated before they become serious and so nobody suffers needlessly from constipation.

The Trouble with Poo is the latest addition to the Books Beyond Words series of accessible picture stories, developed with and for people with learning disabilities. The book tells the story of a young woman suffering from constipation who is supported to seek help from her GP and learns how making simple lifestyle changes can help keep her bowel healthy.

Exploring this story in a group or one-to-one with a supporter will open up conversations around a topic that many people may otherwise think is embarrassing. This will enable people to better understand constipation and the impact of their lifestyle choices, empower them to make informed decisions about how they live their lives, and provide an opportunity for them to share their own experiences and concerns. Supporters, in turn, will get to know more about the person and will be in a better position to provide the best care and support they can.

The book will be an invaluable resource for friends, families and health and care professionals to share with those they support to help reduce health inequalities for people with learning disabilities.

Overseen by series editor Professor the Baroness Hollins, the book’s authors, Margaret Flynn (Chair of the National Independent Safeguarding Board for Wales 2016-19), Jackie Downer MBE (Self-advocate and Campaigner), Karen Horridge (Consultant Paediatrician) and Dave Robinson (Dimensions Health and Wellbeing Lead) worked together with artist Beth Webb and a team of advisors with and without learning disabilities to create a humorous, honest and engaging story.

Margaret Flynn: “Deaths associated with constipation were the impetus for this book. Not being able to poo is a topic that has been neglected for too long. The candour, engagement and wit of people with learning disabilities is reflected in this important book – which graphically shows what poo should look like, what colour pee should be and when a visit to the doctor is necessary."

Jackie Downer MBE: “I pray this book makes a difference in people’s lives. People with learning disabilities are going through constipation and it’s vital that we find a way to talk about it.”

Baroness Hollins: “We just don’t talk about constipation, do we? How often do we ask each other if our ‘poos’ are OK? And yet that is what we need to be able to do if the risks of untreated constipation are to be avoided. If this book saves 1 life, it will have been worth it. I commend the authors for their brave and humorous approach to this subject.”

Steve Scown, CEO of Dimensions: "Constipation can kill. In our experience, it’s often relatively independent people who are most at risk and yet prefer that support staff do not monitor their bowel daily. Following an awful event in 2017, Dimensions has worked hard to help our colleagues and the people we support to better understand the risks and signs of constipation. Co-authoring this accessible and educational story has been a vital part of that. I hope GPs and other support providers will now encourage all those at risk of constipation to read it.”

‘The Trouble with Poo’ was launched at the Royal College of Nursing on 27 November 2019.


Where can I access this please

Hello mandimoo,
The book is available, here: