Learning disability

People with learning disabilities or autism to benefit from better care

People with learning disabilities and autism are set to benefit from better and focused care after the Government published their Building the Right Support Action Plan.

The plan centralises commitments from across government bodies and public services to ensure that suitable and adequate community support is available for those with learning disabilities or autism.

The plan sets out how the Government aims to reduce the number of people with learning disabilities and autism in specialist inpatient care by 50% by March 2024 compared with March of 2015.

Measures in the plan included:

Speeding up discharges for people with a learning disability and autistic people supported by additional targeted funding of more than £90 million in 2022/2023 including:

  • A £40m investment from the NHS Long Term Plan to continue to improve the capacity and capability of crisis support for autistic people and people with a learning disability in every area of the country.
  • £30m of funding to continue putting key workers in place for children and young people with the most complex needs.
  • A £21m Community Discharge Grant to local authorities which will help people with a learning disability and autistic people to be discharged.
  • Limiting the scope under which people with a learning disability and autistic people can be detained by reforming the Mental Health Act.
  • Building on specialist training for health and care staff to ensure they have the skills to better care for people with a learning disability and autistic people.

Minister for Care and Mental Health, Gillian Keegan, said: “For too long autistic people and people with a learning disability have remained as inpatients in mental health units not necessarily because it was the best place but because of failings in the system and a lack of community facilities to support them.

“I am committed to driving further, faster progress to ensure people with a learning disability and autistic people, of all ages, receive high quality health and social care support in their communities when they need it.”

The plan prioritises safety and quality of life and includes a proposal first put forward in the Mental Health Bill that neither learning disabilities nor autism can be considered mental health disorders requiring mandatory treatment.

It also seeks to improve the standard of care in mental health hospitals by reducing restrictive practices, taking important steps to ensure review recommendations are adhered to, and targeted support for people in who have been segregated for a long time, with a view to move them back into the community.

All this will be supported by increasing the choice and availability of specialist housing options.

More information about the new plan is available here.

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NHE May/June 2024

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