How listening to people with learning disabilities can improve services

17 Apr 2018 01:16 PM

Blog posted by: Sharon Jeffreys improvement manager for the Mental Health Intensive Support Team, NHS Improvement, 17 April 2018.

Sharon discusses NICE’s learning disabilities guideline and how organisations can work to improve local services

In my former role as a lead commissioner on behalf of four Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Lincolnshire, we achieved dramatic improvements to our services through our joint efforts with the provider and social care commissioners to listen to people in the area.

To get better insight into what our community needed we sent out letters to people who were using services to get their thoughts. We also set-up a number of events so they could meet face-to-face with representatives from local NHS groups, social services and care providers. The insights we gained helped us design services that currently meet the needs of the people who rely on them.

We looked at our resources and budgets as a whole, and used available national guidance and our local knowledge, to decide what the priorities should be across health and social care.

Our efforts were rewarded, hospital admissions reduced considerably. Only two admissions took place in the first 12 months of the new model and 100% of people referred to the new Community Home Assessment and Treatment Service are now contacted within a day and triaged within four hours.

This type of approach is what NICE is calling for in its guideline on improving service delivery for people with learning disabilities. It focuses on three aspects: how organisations can work together to commission the right services; the effective delivery of community services; and ensuring each person and their family are supported

The guideline advocates specialist support for children, young people and adults with learning disabilities and behaviour that challenges. It says this type of care – to ensure people’s needs are understood and met, could help prevent long stays in hospital and residential care.

Involving people with a lived experience of a learning disability in our local commissioning decisions was crucial to our success. Health and social care professionals should use the opportunity to pool resources and work collectively to support people and their families, ensuring they get the right care at the right time.