Working together to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities
Our Partnership has 10 Big Ambitions and one of those is to reduce the gap in life expectancy for autistic people, people with learning disabilities and people with mental health conditions by 10% by 2024. Achieving this ambition will make life better for more than 200 000 people living in West Yorkshire and Harrogate.
We want everyone with a learning disability who lives in West Yorkshire and Harrogate to have the same opportunities as everyone else. We want people to live long and healthy lives and be treated with dignity and respect. We think it is important for people to have good relationships with others. We want everyone to have a place they call home in their community.
Our Learning Disabilities Health Inequalities Challenge
The health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities (LD) in the UK start early in life and stem from barriers to accessing appropriate and effective health care and are therefore, to an extent, avoidable.
The Learning Disability Mortality Review (LeDeR) programme has highlighted that people with a learning disability still die much younger than the rest of the population (on average 20 years) and are three times more likely to die from causes that could have been avoided. Learning disability is not, of itself, the reason for this inequality; instead it is a result of services not meeting people’s needs. For people with a learning disability it can be difficult to stay well and get help when it is needed. You can find out more about this here.
Nationally, there has been an increase in the number of children and young people with a learning disability being identified within mental hospitals. Across West Yorkshire and Harrogate we have seen a similar increase in children and young people with a learning disability and / or autism entering specialist mental hospital services.
Our health system is responsive to improving the health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities. We believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure people with learning disabilities will be as healthy as they can be. We intend that people with learning disabilities will experience the best possible health care and have improved outcomes from their health services. Our Learning Disabilities Health Inequalities Challenge is the programme that will drive this aim. You can read a news release about our aims here.
Our objectives – how we will know that we have improved health and wellbeing for people with learning disabilities:
- People with learning disabilities who live in West Yorkshire and Harrogate will live longer, healthier lives.
- People with learning disabilities will have better patient experiences and better outcomes.
- Our health and care services will be regarded as an example of best practice in how it promotes the health needs of people with learning disabilities.
Our mandate – what we will do
Voluntary and Community Social Enterprises (VCSE), social care, Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and Acute Trusts will take a lead role in ensuring people with learning disabilities are reached out to and supported to take up their annual health checks and screening checks.
We will involve families in developing, sourcing and delivering training and awareness-raising, to ensure all services can support people with learning disabilities well.
We will involve our active VCSE sector and people with lived experience to shape and support our delivery plan. Our communication plan will promote the contributions people with learning disabilities give to their communities.
We will have trusted and robust data relating to people with learning disabilities, from all service areas within our health and care system.
Transforming Care for people with learning disabilities
Transforming Care is about the government and health and social care organisations working together to make care better for people with learning disabilites, especially if they have mental ill health too.
In line with NHS England’s Transforming Care Programmes, we are looking at how best we can provide and deliver community services, including homes and housing, support and care so people can live the life they chose with the support they need. In order to do this we are working together with our three Transforming Care programmes with the aim to support people with learning disabilities as close to home as possible and to keep them well and out of hospital.
- You can read the government's national plan, Building the Right Support, here
- Guidance for commissioners (the people who plan and pay for care services)
If and when somebody does need an admission for specialist hospital care (such as assessment and treatment) we will work to ensure that specialist staff are available and that people are not in hospital any longer than they need to be. Together we will be looking at how we can work across organisational and geographical boundaries in relation to assessment, treatment unit services. We have engaged with people who access care and who are currently receiving support in an assessment and treatment centre (ATU), their families/carers and staff and also people with previous lived experience of an assessment and treatment centre and their families/carers.
The Partnership, together with an organisation called Change, ran a workshop to look at learning disabilities and health inequalities, and at solutions to make things better. You can read the report from that workshop here.
Learning Disabilities Standards
Across all of our places in West Yorkshire and Harrogate we have higher numbers of adults with a learning disability receiving long-term support from Local Authorities compared to the rest of England. We want to make access to healthcare easier and one of the ways we are working to improve the experience of care for people with learning disabilities is through the national Learning Disability Improvement Standards. First published in 2018, the Standards guide hospital Trusts in how to support and respect people with learning disabilities. All Trusts in West Yorkshire and Harrogate are expected to publish performance against the Standards on an annual basis. Our Learning Disabilities Improvement Standards project will support Trusts to work collaboratively to meet the requirements of the Standards by 2023 / 2024.
Included in the requirements is that all care providers consider as part of their digital strategy how they will apply a digital flag to identify service users who have a learning disability and / or autism. This will help people arriving for care to have their needs recognised and met from the beginning of their treatment journey.
You can find out more about the national Learning Disability Improvement Standards here.
This work is carried out through the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Programme and is championed by the leadership team because of its importance across all of our services.