New Outcomes Framework launched to measure effectiveness of services for people with learning disabilities

Health information

The healthcare needs of people with learning disabilities have been well covered in the literature. The recent confidential inquiry into premature deaths found delays or problems with diagnosis or treatment and problems with providing appropriate care in response to changing needs. Annual health checks have been shown to be effective in identifying previously unknown health conditions, but uptake is patchy.

A new tool has just been launched to help measure and assure the quality of health outcomes delivered by services for people with learning disabilities – The Health Equality Framework, or HEF. This has been developed by the UK Learning Disability Consultant Nurse Network.

The tool has been developed to measure the extent to which services minimise peoples’ exposure to the known determinants of health inequality.

In response to repeated service failures the 2012 report ‘Strengthening the Commitment’ called for learning disability nurse leaders to develop an objective measurement framework to demonstrate effectiveness of learning disability nurse inputs at the individual and service levels.

The Health Equalities Framework tool HEF can be used to establish a clear consensus around service priorities using indicators that focus on social, biological, behavioural, communication and service related factors. There is also a freely available electronic interface (the eHEF), which wlll enable data to be aggregated across services, professionals and teams to analyse variations in service outcomes.

In addition to the Nurse consultants, the Improving Health and Lives Learning Disabilities Public Health Observatory and the National Development Team for Inclusion have been involved, as well as the National Valuing Families Forum, the National Professional Senate, local and national advocacy groups and commissioners.

In addition there is supplementary commissioning guidance, based on the HEF, a guide for families and an easy read guide and tool for people with learning disabilities themselves.

The Health Equalities Framework (HEF) An outcomes framework based on the determinants of health inequalities

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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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