Advanced training for nurses featured in learning disabilities action plan

More learning disabled nurses in England will be supported to progress to advanced practice level, as part of the government’s latest plans to improve services for people with learning disabilities and people with autism.

Training ambitions have been set out in the Building the Right Support action plan, which was released this month by the Department of Health and Social Care and brings together and details various commitments to ensure people can get the care they need closer to home.

The key objective is to reduce by March 2024 the number of people with learning disabilities and autistic people in specialist hospital care by 50% compared to 2015 figures.

The new 2024 target was set after a previous pledge to get 35-50% of people out of hospitals into community support by March 2019 was not met.

In terms of manpower, the plan included a commitment from Health Education England (HEE) to provide learning disabilities teams, particularly those based in the community, with the opportunity to begin practical advanced level training and consultant by April 2023.

Ellie Gordon, head of learning disabilities and mental health nursing at HEE, said the hope was to establish a comprehensive career path for learning disabilities nurses with training offers at stages keys.

She said Nursing schedules“We already provide training for nurses with learning difficulties at the start of their careers, and we are developing training for those who are further along in their careers, to help nurses develop advanced, advanced and consultant, which we will make available nationwide. in the near future.

“We will thus develop a professional path for learning disabled nurses with a national training offer at key times.

Providing learning disabled nurses with ongoing professional development would not only ensure that patients receive “exceptional levels of care and support”, but would also aid in efforts to retain these professionals, Ms Gordon said.

Other workforce commitments in the plan included developing and piloting autism training specifically for staff working in mental health settings, and rolling out mandatory Oliver McGowan training. on learning disabilities and autism awareness for all health and social care personnel.

Among the document’s broader promises:

  • Appoint “primary responders” to help break down barriers that keep people in long-term isolation in hospital
  • Supporting faster discharges from hospital to the community through the ‘Community Discharge Grant’ for local authorities
  • The government will provide funding to increase the supply of supported housing
  • Introduce new obligations for commissioners to ensure that there are adequate community services in their area for people with learning disabilities and people with autism
  • Strengthen the use of “dynamic support registries” to identify children, youth and adults most at risk of admission
  • Continue to review diagnostic pathways for autism in children and young people
  • Ensure that each child and adolescent with learning disabilities and/or autism has a designated key informant
  • Limit the scope of detention of people with learning disabilities or autistic people under the Mental Health Act

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

“I am committed to moving things forward faster to ensure that people with learning disabilities and people with autism, of all ages, receive high quality health and social support in their communities when they need it. .”

The plan follows various scandals involving the mistreatment of people in hospitals with learning disabilities, as well as growing concern over the shortage of learning disabled nurses to meet the needs of these patients.

Jonathan Beebee, professional lead for learning disabled nurses at the Royal College of Nursing, said the plan failed to adequately recognize the nursing challenges facing the specialty or the value of learning disabled nurses.

He said: ‘The ambition of this plan to reduce the number of people with intellectual disability and autism in secure English hospitals is laudable, but the lack of focus on mentally disabled nursing staff is worrying.

“These staff have very specialized skills and can help understand and meet people’s needs, help people get out of safe hospitals and work in social services to make sure people get the right support in the community.”

He warned that the number of learning disabled nurses in the NHS in England had reached an all-time high in January 2022.

“While we believe many of these nurses are now working in social care, we need a professional framework to specify how many more learning disabled nurses are needed and in what settings if the plan is to be successful” , Mr. Beebee said.

Dan Scorer, head of policy and public affairs at the disability in learning charity Mencap, said: ‘This long-awaited plan is a step towards delivering on the broken promises made by governments for more than a decade. a decade to get people out of these institutions following repeated abuse scandals. .

“However, only by investing in the necessary community supports and housing can we close hospital beds and prevent a new generation of people from becoming trapped in these places.”

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