Lack of reasonable adjustments hampers access to psychological therapies for people with learning disabilities


The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme which was established to treat people with mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Positive Practice Guidance was published in 2009, but there are currently no areas listed as having a special interest in psychological therapies to people with learning disabilities. You can download the Positive Practice Guidance here.

This study looked at nature of the IAPT service, its potential benefits and barriers and how local services could be better adapted to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities.

The author suggests that despite the fact that the IAPT service is now well established in mainstream population, deficits and barriers exist in relation to people with learning disabilities. He suggests that attention needs to be paid to removing barriers to access as well as the provision of “reasonable adjustments” in treatment. At the moment there is little monitoring of uptake of services or systematic evaluation of outcomes.

The author concludes that to improve the potential value of IAPT in responding to people with learning disabilities that “reasonable adjustments need to be made not only at the direct clinical level but also throughout the system, from service commissioning to outcomes.”

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies for people with learning disabilities, Levin A, in Tizard Learning Disability Review, 16, 5, 29-37


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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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