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More community care for people with learning disabilities

Plans to shift care for people with a learning disability into the community

Adrian O'Dowd

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

More care for people with a learning disability should move from inpatient beds and facilities to high quality community-based services, according to NHS England.

NHS England, the Local Government Association (LGA), and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) have today published a new draft national framework* to improve the care of people with learning disabilities.

It contains a new draft service model, which is the latest piece of work to emerge from the Transforming Care for People with Learning Disabilities programme – a joint piece of work between the NHS England, LGA, ADASS, CQC, Health Education England and the Department of Health.

This service model sets out nine overarching principles that define what good services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism whose behaviour challenges should look like.

These include:

  • providing more proactive, preventative care, with better identification of people at risk and early intervention
  • empowering people with a learning disability and/or autism, for example, through the expansion of personal health budgets
  • supporting families to care for their children at home, and the provision of high-quality social care with appropriate skills
  • ensuring access to activities and services that enable people with a learning disability and/or autism to lead a fulfilling life (such as education, leisure)
  • ensuring access to mainstream health services (including mainstream mental health services in the community)
  • providing specialist multi-disciplinary support in the community.

NHS England said these principles would underpin how local services were redesigned over the coming months and years.

The current version of the service model had been co-produced with providers, commissioners, health and care professionals and people with learning disabilities and their families.

It will now be used and tested in five areas and NHS England, the LGA and ADASS will refine the guidance in response to any feedback.

The aim is to see a significant shift in commissioning towards high quality community-based services over the next 18 months, allowing the closure of inpatient beds and facilities.

The report says multi-disciplinary teams should be in place to operate across all health and social care services, housing, employment, education and the criminal justice system.

These teams would need to provide an identified point of contact for mainstream services and perform a liaison role to primary care, acute hospitals, mental health services, liaison and diversion services, police, youth offending teams and probation.

* Supporting people with a learning disability and / or autism who have a mental health condition or display behaviour that challenges. DRAFT service model for commissioners of health and social care services. NHS England, LGA, ADASS, July 2015

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