Government commits to improving care for people with learning disabilities

The Government has announced that it will review the process for putting people with autism or learning disabilities into care.

It comes after new research revealed that thousands of children and young adults were needlessly placed into mental health facilities, despite having greatly different needs.

According to the findings, some 250 children with a learning disability or autism were placed into a mental health hospital in February 2019. This is compared to just 110 in March 2015 – the last recorded data.

Upon investigation, it was found that around three-quarters of those placed into care had autism but not a learning disability, while one in seven had a learning disability only, while a similar number had both.

Introducing the move, Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said the “care of every patient in segregation or long-term seclusion will be reviewed as part of plans to improve the model of care for autistic people and people with learning disabilities”.

Under the new plans, independent advocates will work with families to direct children and young people to the correct services and work to move vulnerable people to the “least restrictive care”, with the ultimate aim of integration into the community.

The Government will also launch a new awareness campaign to encourage staff, families and friends to come forward if they have concerns about the care of a vulnerable person.

Commenting on the measures, Mr Hancock said: “I have been deeply moved and appalled by the distressing stories of some autistic people and people with learning disabilities spending years detained in mental health units. These vulnerable people are too often left alone, away from their families, friends and communities.

“At its best, the health and care system provides excellent support to people, backed by a dedicated workforce. But a small proportion of some of the most vulnerable in society are being failed by a broken system that doesn’t work for them.”

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