Improving learning disability support

September 12, 2018

New measures have been announced by Government with a view to improving learning disability support at home and in hospital.

These measures aim to address the inequality in life expectancy between people with learning disabilities and the wider population and will include a consultation on increasing awareness training for staff who care for someone with a learning disability.

This training may cover legislation, making adjustments to the way care is provided, and looking at how to provide the kind of care that will help people reach their full potential.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will consult on training proposals with people who have experience of learning disabilities, the wider sector, NHS and social care providers and the general public, to ensure the proposals are effective and training is valued. Health Education England will also develop an awareness training package which can be made available to all staff.

DHSC will also undertake actions with the aim of improving learning disability support in the community, including:

  • Sharing the learning from the named social worker pilot, which explored how one-to-one support for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs can help people to achieve better outcomes. The pilot has shown a positive impact on individuals, their families and their social workers, as well as a predicted return on investment of £5 for every £1 spent across the programme.
  • Undertaking a long-term study of the impact of integrated community support for people with learning disabilities. By studying the impact of co-ordinated approaches to supporting people with a learning disability in a number of local areas, interventions can be identified which best prepare young people for the transition to adulthood and independent living.
  • Testing and developing a quality of life standard for people with learning disabilities which can measure the effectiveness of support and improve services to take into account the health, comfort and happiness of individuals.

The measures for improving learning disability support come in response to a report from the first national mortality review of learning disability, known as the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR) Programme, which was published in May 2018. The programme was established in 2015 to ensure local, evidence-based action is taken to improve support for people with a learning disability. DHSC and NHS England are addressing all nine of the report’s recommendations as part of a drive to improve support across the health and care system.

All the measures announced today recognise the clear need to promote awareness amongst staff of the needs of people with learning disabilities and how professionals must adapt to provide a quality service or assist them through practical support, advice and information, must-have knowledge of learning disabilities and the need to make reasonable adjustments to the way that care or information is provided.

Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage, said, 'Every person with a learning disability must receive the same high quality care you and I would expect. For too long many people with learning disabilities have had their lives tragically cut short, in part because of a lack of understanding about their needs. This must end.

'...Support will be improved to help enhance the lives of people with learning disabilities across the country – anything less is unacceptable.'

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