2018 Learning Disabilities Conference review

In March, we hosted our final national conference for the 2017/18 work programme, Benchmarking & Good Practice in Learning Disabilities Services. There was excellent discussion and networking throughout the event.

Julian Emms, Chief Executive of Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of the NHS Benchmarking Network’s Mental Health Reference Group opened the conference, introducing the first speaker and our keynote address, Dr Jean O’Hara, National Clinical Director for Learning Disabilities, NHS England. We were delighted to welcome Jean back to the conference for consecutive years, and were updated on campaigns within the sector, including Don’t Miss Out by Mencap. Culture change was a focus throughout Dr O’Hara’s presentation, and will continue for 2018-19 with aims to support local delivery and reducing health inequalities through co-production of training and tools, and working with experts within social services.

We then heard from Stephen Watkins, Director of the Network, who presented this year’s Learning Disabilities benchmarking findings, covering both Adult and Children’s services. Key findings from the 2016/17 project include length of stay across almost all LD bed types having reduced in the last year, and CQC ratings for the sector are improving.

Following an insight into the benchmarking findings, we heard from NHS Improvement. Dave Atkinson presented on standards within the Learning Disabilities services in order to reduce variation and improve the care quality for those with learning disabilities and their families. Dave also spoke about collecting data on improvement measures and metrics, enabling analysis with reference to the local context and reports that can effectively support decision making. These metrics and standards are currently being drafted and reviewed.

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We were delighted to welcome three good practice speakers, focusing on transforming care for those with learning disabilities. We started this series of presentations with a joint presentation from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals and Blackpool Council. Following a local review of Learning Disability and Autism services, Blackpool were encouraged to adopt innovative working and flexible commissioning approaches to improve the care for those with learning disabilities, including support within the local community and improving the accommodation mix. A key focus for their project was that of collaboration, which has enabled them to benefit from each other’s expertise and share ideas.

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Leading on from Blackpool’s focus on the accommodation provision for those with Learning Disabilities, we heard from Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, who presented on their purpose-built hospital, Daisy. The main focus of Daisy is to support independence and reintegrate those with learning disabilities into the community setting; concluding that hospitals are part of someone’s journey, not an indefinite home.

Our final good practice came from Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, who discussed their progress to achieve a rating of Outstanding from CQC for their Learning Disabilities Services. Mersey Care reiterated the importance of supporting people in their own home, but also having secure and non-secure beds available if necessary. Their next steps include a single framework for service delivery for the entire pathway, which aims to improve the workforce opportunities and support for those with learning disabilities.

We circulate your good practice case studies on a quarterly basis. If you would like to share your innovative working with the membership, please contact e.pruce1@nhs.net for more information.

The reports for Learning Disabilities will be available in late March. If you have any project queries, please contact Jessica Walsh, Project Coordinator. Thank you to all who submitted to the project and attended the conference in both a delegate and presenter capacity.

If you are interested in any of our future events, please contact Emma Pruce.