A new grant has been announced by Government that will see a £62m Community Discharge Fund to support people with learning disabilities and/or autism to leave inpatient settings.
People with learning disabilities and/or autism who could be better supported in their community will have their discharges from hospital accelerated thanks to the grant.
This follows a renewed focus on ensuring people with learning disabilities or autism are discharged promptly from hospital back into the community. Last year the Health and Social Care Secretary asked Baroness Hollins to oversee independent case reviews for people with a learning disability and/or autism who were identified as being in long-term segregation. The reviews have made recommendations in each case to support moving people to less restrictive settings as quickly as possible.
An Oversight Panel appointed by Baronness Hollins will examine findings from these reviews and develop recommendations to the Government.
The Community Discharge Fund will help to move people with learning disabilities and people with autism into either less restrictive settings or the community, where appropriate.
The Fund, split over three years, will give local authorities additional money to remove some of the obstacles to discharging inpatients and will help to cover ‘double-running’ costs such as establishing community teams, funding accommodation and staff training. Local authorities and Transforming Care Partnerships will be able to use the money to fund the most appropriate measures for their area.
The Oversight Panel will also make recommendations to transform the care and treatment of people with a learning disability and/or autism and prevent unnecessary admissions and the use of restrictive practices in the future.
Baroness Hollins said, 'Since November I have been reviewing all of those instances when people with learning disabilities and autistic people have been detained in long-term segregation. I have now appointed an Oversight Panel to assist me in understanding what I have found out, and in making urgent recommendations to the government. Our aim is to prevent the use of seclusion and restraint in future.
'Supporting people to live well in their own homes would be the best outcome. In some circumstances people’s mental health may require a short admission for specialist assessment and development of an evidence based treatment plan, but the majority can and should be able to receive expert mental health treatment and support in the community.'
The panel held its first meeting on 29th June and will continue to meet throughout the summer to develop its findings and recommendations. It is made up of clinical, psychological and commissioning experts as well as those with a lived experience, including family members and advocates.
Minister for Care Helen Whately said, 'People with a learning disability and autistic people should have the best possible care, and I am determined to put an end to the health inequalities they too often face.
'Few of us would choose to remain in a hospital bed when we could be receiving better care in our own community - this funding will speed up discharge from hospital wards making a real difference to people’s lives.
'I’d like to thank Baroness Hollins for her important work overseeing independent case reviews of those in long term segregation and look forward to seeing her recommendations.'
Responding to the announcement of the Community Discharge Fund, Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England said, 'Care England has long highlighted the issues around meeting the objectives of the Transforming Care agenda, accordingly it is encouraging to see a decisive step taken in the right direction. However, this money must be earmarked and used to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. We welcome this grant and look forward to working with Baroness Hollins to help reach a long-term solution to the admission of the most vulnerable in society into inappropriate settings.'