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New Down's Syndrome health book unveiled

New Down's Syndrome health book unveiled Photo: ITV News West Country

A new health book has been unveiled to help people with Down's Syndrome live more independent lives. Today is World Down's Syndrome Day and at its heart is the creation of this new information book which can be used by health professionals to give them more in depth details about their patients.

For the last ten years, 30 year old Alex Boys has been living in residential care. But from the beginning of this year he's taken a step out on his own, living in this shared house. It's independent living with support and it takes him a little closer to his dream of getting a job.

Alex Boys has just started living independently Credit: ITV News West Country

I want to learn to do my own jobs for myself. I'd like to be a gardener.

– Alex Boys

People with Down's Syndrome very often have health issues around their condition, and will need to be screened for certain things like diabetes and hyperthyroidism. The new Health book will alert professionals to what to look out for and also give them historical details about the person. There's also a new website that will give GPs access to up to date information and specialist knowledge on Down's Syndrome.

Not all people with down syndrome are living with their family. A lot of them are living in supportive living or care situations. The people around them might not necessarily know what's happened to that person in the past and os if we can document that in the health book it's much easier for someone who is seeing that person maybe for the first time to understand what might be the health problem that that person is experiencing and why.

– Carol Boys, Chief Executive, Down's Syndrome Association

Alex has a great social life in this shared house. He and his friends take it in turns to do the cooking. Being able to live independently like this is a big deal for him. He says it's just what he needs.

The new health book is just another way of helping people like Alex to live his own life. 3,000 of them have been distributed during Down's Syndrome Awareness Week, a step in the right direction towards empowering them to access the healthcare they need.

You can watch this report by our health correspondent Jacquie Bird: