07th November 2019

Image: Autistic people and people with a learning disability guide the development of new frameworks.Autistic people, people with autistic family members and people with a learning disability have guided the development of two new core capabilities frameworks. These frameworks can help ensure that staff working across health, social care and other sectors have the right training to understand the needs of autistic people and people with a learning disability, and make reasonable adjustments to support them.

We are pleased to announce that these two frameworks for Supporting Autistic People and People with a Learning Disability are now available and freely accessible for all from Skills for Health.

In 2009 the Government put in place the Autism Strategy to ensure training for all frontline public service staff, in line with their job role, is received, and that specialist training is developed for staff in health and social care.

Health Education England (HEE) together with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) are leading on this workforce development, which was furthered by the launch of the NHS Long Term Plan earlier this year,

One of the key objectives to achieve the strategy’s aims included commissioning Skills for Health, together with Skills for Care, the National Autistic Society and Opening Minds Training & Consultancy to develop an Autism Capabilities Framework.

Furthermore, HEE, together with NHS England (Learning Disability Programme), commissioned a review and update of the original ‘Learning Disabilities Core Skills Education and Training Framework’ previously published in 2016. The development was guided by a steering group including Skills for Health, British Institute of Learning Disabilities, Care England, Mencap, Skills for Care, and VODG (Voluntary Organisations Disability Group).

These frameworks will now form the basis of the mandatory training, announced earlier this week, that the Government has confirmed the results of the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) consultation on mandatory training. Whereby, every NHS and social care worker will receive mandatory training relevant to their role, as part of a series of new measures to improve the quality of care for those with learning disabilities and autism across the health and care service.

Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England says: “HEE is committed to reducing health inequalities and, through better education and training of our current and future workforce, this work aims to remove many of the difficulties autistic people and people with learning difficulties can often face when it comes to accessing world-leading NHS care.”

The use of these frameworks can support all aspects of workforce development, including enabling individuals and organisations to provide practical guidance which can make a real difference to the experiences of autistic people and people with a learning disability.

These frameworks describe the skills, knowledge and behaviours which people bring to their work and are used to support the development and planning of the current and future workforce, both informing the design of curricula and the delivery of education and training programmes by working in partnership with autistic people and people with learning disabilities. 

Autistic people and people with a learning disability have a right to access good quality healthcare, but generally have more health problems than other people and a higher risk of premature death. There are many reasons for this, including: above average rates of co-occurring conditions and a lack of understanding and awareness among health and other professionals; difficulties faced by some autistic people and people with a learning disability and those who support them in recognising symptoms and expressing their needs; poor information systems; and the fact that many autistic people and people with a learning disability are economically and socially disadvantaged. 

Health and social care staff need the capabilities to support and encourage autistic people and people with a learning disability to optimise their physical and mental health. They need to promote and implement reasonable adjustments, remove barriers to access and enable the health needs of autistic people and people with a learning disability to be met.

 “These frameworks directly respond to the need to improve health outcomes and avoid premature mortality for autistic people and people with a learning disability. Based upon extensive consultation, these frameworks can help support workforce planning and the design and delivery of education and training programmes to improve health and care services, recognising that autistic people and people with a learning disability have a right to live fulfilling lives, including choice and control over the care and support they may need.” Colin Wright, Frameworks Development Manager at Skills for Health.

The Core Capabilities Framework for Supporting Autistic People and People with a Learning Disability have now been published online from Skills for Health and are available to view and download here now.

Here at Skills for Health, we are the employers’ trusted provider of workforce and organisational development, designed to increase the quality of healthcare, patient safety and productivity.

As the Sector Skills Council for Health for the UK health sector, please contact us today for all of your workforce development solutions, ensuring together, we continue to improve the wider wellbeing of our public health