Regional Workforce Review across Adult Learning Disability Teams and Services

Learning Disability services continue to remain a key priority for the Department of Health, Health and Social Care Trusts and the Independent and Private Sectors.

A number of key reviews and legislative changes have been carried out to help understand the services that are currently being provided to people with a Learning disability in Northern Ireland. It is clearly recognised that it continues to be important to provide a consistent and improved service to all people with a Learning disability which are provided at the appropriate time ,commensurate with their individualised assessment of need regardless of where they live. It is also imperative that Learning disabilty services to continue to provide creative opportunities and services to support carers in their caring role.

There is a continued requirement and indeed commitment to help improve the lives of people with Learning disability and their carers and this review will assist in the collation of a baseline of the current workforce across NI . It is essential that there are sufficient staff employed to deliver a safe service to people with Learning disability and that all staff employed are sufificiently skilled and trained with an appropriate skill mix.

Most recently, in January 2018 an Independent team was appointed to conduct a Level 3 Serious Adverse Incident (SAI) review of patient safeguarding at Muckamore Abbey Hospital. The outcome of that review the ‘A Way to Go’ report was published in November 2018. However, the Department of Health considered that there needed to be a further review carried out specifically in relation to the Leadership and Governance arrangements at MAH and Belfast HSC Trust and commissioned a further review which commenced in January 2020. A report ‘A Review of Leadership and Governance at Muckamore Hospital’ was published in July 2020.

These reviews exposed significant failings in the care provided to people with a learning disability as inpatients in the hospital and their families.  It also exposed gaps in the wider system of support for people with learning disabilities.

A series of recommendations were made as an outcome of both of these reviews and are contained in the MAH HSC Action Plan.

This action plan sets out actions for the HSC system to assist them to address the issues that the reports had highlighted, and to provide wider assurances to society that the HSC system is working together in a consistent and co-ordinated way to make life better for people with a learning disability.

A number of the actions identified in the action plan relate to the importance of a suitably resourced and skilled workforce i.e. that all Trusts should invest in people-skills and be cautious about focusing solely on learning disability nursing.

In particular, Action (A37) required  the Department  to develop an evidence based plan for recruitment, training and retention of a sufficiently skilled multi-disciplinary workforce, including people skills, to undertake and deliver therapeutic and clinical assessment and intervention across both inpatient and community services.

This review will be carried out across the current Learning disability workforce across all Statutory, Private and independent Health and Social Care services. The review will be coordinated in a phased and measured way with realistic timeframes set for each frame of work to be undertaken.

The review will seek to develop an overarching model for a bespoke Learning disability Multi-disciplinary and Integrated workforce. It will consider the staffing requirements, specific skills and potential deployment to make the greatest impact on the lives of people with a Learning disability to deliver safe,effective and high quality services.

It will also consider the necessary resources based on data, evidence and analysis of current and future need.

The initial survey will focus on Action 37 of the MAH Action plan to help determine a baseline across all services which will focus on both workforce current and projected known future caseload activity.