People with learning disabilities may stand to receive better care and support at home and in hospital under new plans announced today.

Seeking to address the inequality in life expectancy between people with learning disabilities and the wider population, the government is to consult on expanding awareness training for health and care staff caring for those with learning disabilities.

This training could cover relevant legislation, the need to make adjustments to the way care is provided, and how to provide the kind of care which will help people reach their full potential.

The Department for Health and Social Care 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.

The government says this approach will ensure the proposals are effective and avoid any training becoming a ‘box-ticking exercise’. Health Education England will also develop an awareness training package which can be made available to all staff.

Response

"Every person with a learning disability must receive the same high quality care you and I would expect," said Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage. "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."

"We will consult on expanding learning disability awareness training so that health and care staff are better equipped to provide compassionate and informed care. Support will be improved to help enhance the lives of people with learning disabilities across the country – anything less is unacceptable."

As part of this, the Department for Health and Social Care will also undertake several actions aimed at better supporting people 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 – which included Bradford, Halton, Hertfordshire, Liverpool, Sheffield and Shropshire in its second phase – 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 learning disability in a number of local areas we can identify the decisive interventions 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 be used to measure the effectiveness of support and improve services to take into account the health, comfort and happiness of individuals.

The measures come in response to a report from the first national mortality review of learning disability, known as the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR) Programme, that 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.

“NHS England is working closely with the government and other services to address the recommendations in the LeDeR report and make sure they are translated into action that makes a difference to people with a learning disability, and their families, so they can lead longer, happier and healthier lives,” said Ray James, England National Director for Learning Disabilities.

The Government say the Department for Health and Social Care 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.

The government say they recognise the clear need to promote awareness amongst health 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.

Earlier this summer NHS England also announced £76.5 million of investment into the Transforming Care Programme to support people with learning disabilities to move out of hospital.