Earlier this year, the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) carried out some research into ‘reasonable adjustments’ being made to mental health services to enable people with autism and people with learning disabilities to have equal access and effective treatment
This NHS Confederation briefing sets out the key findings from this study and identifies what can be done to make improvements.
The study found considerable variations in the treatment that people with learning disabilities or autism received from mental health services across England. The NDTi received a range of contributions from stakeholders by email and phone, and through meetings held with people who use services
Along with highlighting some good practice, for example, specialist learning disability or autism services facilitating access to mainstream mental health services rather than setting up separate specialist services and working flexibly in organisational procedures and professional practice. However they also identified some significant service failures. .
Key points from the study suggest
- Providers should put in place reasonable adjustments to make it easier for learning disabled or autistic people to use and access services.
- Health checks at the GP surgery should include mental health state
- Information about medication should be made available in accessible formats
- Commissioners and local authorities need to work with health and wellbeing boards to plan integrated services that meet the needs of those with autism or learning disabilities.
Equally accessible? making mental health services more accessible for learning disabled or autistic people, NHS Confederation Mental Health Network
I believe the last key point in this study is the most important i.e. ‘Commissioners and local authorities need to work with health and wellbeing boards to plan integrated services that meet the needs of those with autism or learning disabilities.’
In my local authority there has been a large rise in the amount of referrals of people with LD to our local NHS psychology department. (FOI request). This data should be ringing alarm bells with our LA and the DoH but it is convenienlty being kicked into the long grass. The LA’s Commissioners are more interested in pleasing their paymasters than reducing the number of service users needing psychiatric care. Most of these people with LD are needing better services from the LA instead of the slow disintegration of the services they once loved and used.
There should be less of the ‘take it or leave it’ services and more of the ‘how can we meet your needs’ services on offer. We might then see a big reduction in mental health problems in this group of people.