2018/19 Learning Disabilities event review

On Tuesday 5th March, we held our fourth Benchmarking & Good Practice in Learning Disabilities Services event. This was the final conference of the Network 2018/19 work programme, closing the year with a combination of policy updates and good practice.

The day was opened by Julian Emms, Chief Executive for Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and Chair of the Network’s Mental Health Reference Group. We began with a keynote from Dr Jean O’Hara, NCD for Learning Disabilities, returning for a third consecutive year to share the work undertaken by NHS England. She explained how learning disabilities and autism are a priority in the NHS Long Term Plan, introducing a flagging system to identify whether a patient ‘requires reasonable adjustments’ when they attend an appointment. Jean stressed the importance of supporting patients with complex needs through every stage of the healthcare system. Jean concluded by highlighting the achievements within the learning disabilities workforce, celebrating 100 years of Learning Disability Nursing.  

We then moved onto a two-part presentation from NHS Improvement. The first section was delivered by Ben Briggs, Senior Clinical Adviser for NHSI, presenting an overview of the NHS Improvement Quality Standards national survey. The survey was completed to support consistency and understanding in learning disabilities across all organisations. The team have also created a self-improvement toolkit, as a response to the mortality review to improve care and health outcomes for people with learning disabilities. This was presented by Dave Atkinson, Senior Programme Manager.

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Following a networking refreshment break, we welcomed delegates back to the room for a first look at the benchmarking findings. Presented by Stephen Watkins, Director of the Network, delegates received detailed insight into the state of learning disabilities services in adult and community services. Highlights are included in the infographic, and you can read more using #NHSBNLD.

After the whistle-stop tour through the NHSBN findings, we heard from Dr Paul Lelliott, Deputy Chief Inspector and Alison Carpenter, Inspector, from the Care Quality Commission. The extensive learning disabilities work programme was shared by Paul, including his observations on delivering safe, effective and well-led care in LD services, with reference to the inclusion of the NHSI learning disability standards in future CQC inspections. Alison followed with a swift presentation on the thematic review of restraint, seclusion and segregation.

The first good practice of the day was presented by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. They shared their activity with health facilitation nurses in primary care, whereby they provide training around learning disability awareness and annual health checks. The programme by the team at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has encouraged healthy competition between GP surgeries to become a learning disability friendly environment.

We moved onto a collaborative piece of good practice from Livewell Southwest and NEW Devon CCG. They shared Louise’s story, an individual with PTSD and severe attachment disorder, who received support for transition out of hospital, enabling her to live an independent life. This was then expanded further with an explanation on how Livewell Southwest’s effective work across disciplines has enabled them to meet the needs of people in times of crisis.

Following this piece of collaborative work, we heard from Kent Community Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who shared their newly developed project: My Health Navigator. This piece of work looks at better coordinating care for people with learning disabilities with complex physical health care. After a detailed evaluation process of the current care provided, the team identified areas of improvement, including better communication, an identified clinician, and involving family to improve anticipatory care plans.

Our penultimate session came from Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Their piece of work focused on multi-disciplinary team consultation clinics for medication reviews. Some of the service developments include a single point of access, a redesigned referral process, and a triage process. This focus on delivery and process change raised awareness of pressures in social care, in provider activity, and in primary care, presenting a greater understanding of referral drivers.

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Our final presentation of the day came from the Institute of Health Visiting, which was based on a research study improving the way healthcare professionals deliver news about a child having a condition associated with a learning disability. The IoHV have developed a programme and intervention manual to support healthcare professionals in their communication to parents. Sabrena, Research Associate, identified the six key intervention components for delivering different news, including professional conduct, emotional and mental wellbeing, and planning.

Julian Emms closed the conference and ended our 2018/19 programme of Network national conferences. Thank you to all delegates and speakers for their input in the conference. The reports for the Learning Disabilities Network project will be available on the members’ area week commencing 11th March.