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It has been announced this week that up to 2.8 million health and social care staff with direct contact with patients could be required to undertake special learning disability or autism training.

The government proposals will not only help provide additional support for those working in healthcare roles, but will address the shortened life expectancy faced by those with learning disabilities. Currently, it is estimated that there is an 18 year gap for women and a 14 year gap for men when compared to those without any learning disabilities.

All staff who have direct contact with patients (including porters and receptionists) will be involved in the training, which has three key strands:

  1. Develop an understanding of learning disability and autism and the impact they have on someone’s life. This includes learning how to challenge unconscious attitudes and ensuring individuals, carers and families are listened to
  2. Understanding the fundamental rights of those with learning disabilities or autism. Guidance will be given to help improve staff understand how they can provide information in new, accessible formats to make sure views and concerns are heard.
  3. Advice on how to make practical, reasonable adjustments to improve how people with learning disabilities and autism are supported, regardless of age.

The government is keen to directly involve people with autism or learning disabilities in the training. To support this, they have launched an eight-week consultation to seek the views of health and social care staff, employers, charities and people with a learning disability or on the autism spectrum, as well as their families and carers.

The government is also hoping to make the training a legal requirement and is in the process of establishing if it can be added to healthcare workers’ education and training, before and post-qualifying.

Speaking of the plans, Care Minister Caroline Dineage said: “Our plans to introduce mandatory training for all relevant health and care staff will help them to ensure more people receive the safe, compassionate and informed care that they are entitled to.”

At Sanctuary, we think that this is a fantastic idea and we would encourage as many health and social care professionals as possible to get involved in the consultation.
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