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Community care should be provided for learning disability patients

Thursday 5th April 2018
Occupational therapists could play a big part in ensuring people with learning disabilities can be cared for within their local community. Image: monkeybusinessimages via iStock
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People with learning disabilities should receive care in their local community, as close to their own home as possible, according to a new recommendation.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a new guideline stating that local authorities and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) should work closely together to manage the care of children, young people and adults with learning disabilities with a view to causing minimal disruption to their lives.

Occupational therapists could help to play an important role in implementing this recommendation, working with local services and patients' families to create a clear care plan for each individual.

The budget provided for this care should be divided across health, social care and education to ensure that people with learning disabilities are having all of their needs met without unnecessary discomfort. Again, this is something that occupational therapists can help to advise on.

The new guideline also states that adults with challenging learning disability-related behaviour should be given the option of living independently, with help provided if this is their preference, while shared housing with a small group of others should be an alternative.

What's more, the NICE recommendation emphasises the importance of planning ahead for outings and making sure a plan is in place should an emergency arise that could cause distress to individuals with learning disabilities. For example, NICE suggests that local authorities set up an out-of-hours helpline for patients and their families.

Jonathan Senker, chief executive of VoiceAbility and chair of the NICE guideline committee, explained: "This new guideline is designed to help local authorities, the NHS and service providers work alongside people and their families to deliver well-designed support that meets their needs.

"It aims to improve community support for people with learning disabilities and behaviour that challenges so that people don't need to move unnecessarily or live in institutional services."

Written by Alex Franklin Stortford

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