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Planning the Future Workforce for People with Learning Disabilities

Posted: 27/01/17

Guest blog by Shane Webber and Megan Hare. 

Shane Webber and Megan Hare are employed by the Community Learning Disability Team in Kent who have been awarded funding from Health Education Kent, Surrey and Sussex to undertake a Data Intelligence Review and Health Equalities Framework (HEF) Validation Project. The project aims to better understand the current and future needs of people with learning disabilities in Kent. 

Following a series of reports and inquiries (such as ‘Death by Indifference’ (2007), Healthcare for All (2008), CIPOLD (Confidential Inquiry into Premature Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities) and the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR)) it became clear that inequalities still exist in access to healthcare and in mortality rates for people with learning disabilities.

Despite systematic reviews of evidence and publication of good practice guidance by organisations such as IHaL aimed at reducing these inequalities, at a regional level,  it can still be difficult to measure outcomes for individuals with learning disabilities and use this information to plan workforce development.

Our aspirations

In order to find out how to transform services to provide the best possible care, Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust have developed a Data Intelligence Review and Health Equalities Framework (HEF) Validation Project. The project aims to understand the current and future needs of people with learning disabilities, by exploring the barriers to accessing and receiving treatment and support, as well as looking at ways to overcome these barriers. We aim to build on this learning by using the data to ensure the workforce has the right skills, training and qualifications to meet future demands.

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust are using the HEF to determine whether they are reducing health inequalities for people with learning disabilities, and are checking the HEF findings against already-validated tools such as the Outcomes Star. Kent’s Community Learning Disability Team has been using the HEF since 2014 and has seen first-hand how the tool has enabled them to develop their service whilst allowing practitioners to demonstrate the impact they have had on a person’s care; by undertaking this project, we hope to validate the HEF by measuring it against other outcomes tools and systematically auditing it against service users’ goals.

Aims for the future

The data we are collecting through collecting case studies such as this one, working groups and fieldwork, for example, will inform work at both practitioner and commissioning levels; and although it is initially being taking place in Kent, there are plans to include Surrey and Sussex as the project moves forward. In addition, Kent is conducting a workforce and data intelligence analysis with the aim of ensuring the workforce adapts to meet changing need.

Through the project we hope to gain sufficient insight into the current needs of people with learning disabilities, to transform the provision of services in anticipation of their future needs.

To read more about the project, please visit the project's website or follow the project progress on Twitter.