Audit of impact of relaxation and sensory activities in assessment and treatment service for people with learning disabilities



The debate about the place of assessment and treatment beds for adults with learning disabilities continues. The Royal College of Psychiatrists recently published a paper as part of the response to the events at Winterbourne View which set out its view of the need for a range of in-patient services which included acute admission beds, both within specialised learning disability units and within generic mental health settings.

This paper reports an audit of the impact of a specific intervention in a unit offering brief admissions for adults with a learning disability, mental health difficulties and/or challenging behaviour.


What they did was to look a series of stand-alone groups which ran for nine weeks and offered sessions on relaxation and sensory and physical activities.

The audit looked at a range of possible outcomes: the extent to which interventions were perceived as helpful and enjoyable by clients and staff any positive effects on the mood of clients with learning disability the rating by clients of any particular activities as more favourable than others.


What they found was that all the individuals involved stated that they found the sessions useful and enjoyable. Staff offered positive feedback on their perceptions of the impact of the sessions, suggesting they were helpful for participants.


The authors conclude from their findings that the sessions helped individuals to improve their mood.

Audit of group-based activities in an inpatient assessment and treatment unit for individuals with learning disabilities, Reynolds, P & Field, L, in British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41: 273–279.


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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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