New guidelines published to help people with learning disabilities

New guidelines have been issued to help people with learning disabilities, as well as their families and carers, to ensure that they are not given too much medication and can receive the level of care they need.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is behind the new publication, with an emphasis being given to the volume of antipsychotics given to those with learning disabilities, and it is hoped that the new information will help them to get the support they need.

Contained in the new guidance are eight key statements, which have been produced to help staff and support workers assist people with learning disabilities.

Published in the wake of Mencap’s 2013 ‘Out of Sight’ report, which described services for people with learning disabilities as “fragmented, at times ineffective and unresponsive to family needs”, the new quality standard addresses those findings.

Glynis Murphy, a professor of clinical psychology and disability at the University of Kent, who was part of the committee behind the publication, said: “Very often behaviour that challenges develops in childhood and results from a combination of personal characteristics (such as poor communications skills or autism, in addition to learning disabilities) and aspects of the environment (such as a barren or restrictive environment).

“People with such behaviour need early functional assessments and behaviour support plans, but they often receive too little service, too late, and families and care staff are not often offered the training they need in basic behavioural methods.

“This quality standard highlights what is needed to drive measurable improvements to the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families.”

Deputy chief executive and director of health and social care for NICE, Professor Gillian Leng, said: “The NICE quality standard focuses on ensuring that an assessment of both the overall health of people with a learning disability, and of the behaviour that challenges, is carried out which then leads to personalised care planning and access to meaningful activities.

“The quality standard aims to ensure that the approaches used by staff to support people with learning disabilities follow the least restrictive practice and promote privacy and dignity.”

For more information and to read the quality standard in full, please visit: www.nice.org.uk/guidance/QS101.

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