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Learning disability and autism training for health and care staff

Paula McGowan, whose son Oliver died in hospital in 2016, has been campaigning for mandatory learning disability and autism training for doctors and nurses. Paula’s campaign  and the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR)  have highlighted the urgent need “for better training and awareness of learning disability”. The Government consulted on proposals to introduce mandatory learning disability and autism training for health and social care staff from February to April 2019.

This month, the Government announced £1.4 million to fund learning disability and autism training for NHS and social care staff. The government response- here - to the consultation commits to mandatory training for all NHS staff and social care staff. The Department for Health and Social Care, Health Education England and Skills for Care will test the new training package “in both health and social care settings”. The training will be evaluated in March 2021.

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation welcomes the Government announcement that all health and social care staff must be trained in learning disability and autism.  This is essential in order to ensure that people with learning disabilities or autism receive the skilled care and support they are entitled to.  However, we are disappointed that the topics listed for mandatory training do not include “understanding the reasons for challenging behaviour”.  Behaviour is an expression of unmet need and is often linked to pain or health issues. Understanding the causes of challenging behaviour among people with learning disabilities is key to effective support and must be included within the training standards. 

The training will include case studies of lived experiences and children, young people and adults with learning disabilities and autism and their families will be involved in the evaluation of the pilot. However, it is also important individuals with lived experience and their families are actively involved in developing the content of the training. Particular efforts are needed to ensure the experiences of children, young people and adults with complex needs, including those who are non-verbal, are actively sought and included.   

We are pleased there will be guidance for health and social care employers to involve “people with lived experience in the delivery of training”. It is essential this includes individuals with learning disabilities and/ or autism and their families.Families are often the main source of love, care and support for children and adults with learning disabilities and can provide in depth knowledge, experience and expertise.  The CBF recommends the use of alternative media such as video to make sure individuals with complex needs and severe learning disabilities are fully involved in the training.

We are now looking forward to the implementation of the training, which aims to reduce inequalities and give children, young people and adults with severe learning disabilities and/ or autism the right care and support.  The CBF is clear that early intervention is a key component, both when children are young and when behaviours first become apparent.  For that reason, we would like to see mandatory training in learning disability, autism and understanding challenging behaviour extended to education, as well as health and social care staff. 

 

 

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