Workforce update for 
 services that support people 
 with a learning disability 
 and/or autistic people 

Welcome to this workforce development update for adult social care services that support people with a learning disability and/or autistic people.It shares the latest news, resources, events and funding opportunities from Skills for Care and partners, for these. You can find previous newsletters and sign up for future ones here.
 News from Skills for Care 

Skills for Care support for managers
'WhatsApp’ group for managers of services for people with a Learning disability and / or autism.

Skills for Care have established a ‘WhatsApp’ group for managers of learning disability and/or autism services. This is for peer support and sharing of practice/issues specifically around these services. Anyone wishing to join should email with their name and mobile telephone number, stating they would like to join the learning disability/autism ‘WhatsApp’ group. If you haven’t used What’s App before, you need to download the ‘WhatsApp’ app to your smart phone.

Skills for Care also supports other local networks for registered managers on WhatsApp and Faceboook. For more information visit our website.

Also seen in enews – new advice line and webinars
A new COVID-19 advice line has been launched to support the social care sector’s 20,000 registered and other frontline managers with advice and resources for managers from Skills for Care, as well as direction to support from other agencies.

The advice line is open between 09.00 – 17.00 Monday to Friday on 0113 241 1260, and managers can find out more on our website.

A series of new webinars are available as issues and priorities emerge during the crisis. They are being recorded so they are available to watch afterwards.

Click here to find out more about the webinars.

To sign up for enews please click here.
Using technology to work virtually
As we all learn more about using remote / virtual methods to help each other, an informal group of employers, disabled people’s organisations and advocacy groups have been sharing tips, challenges and useful links. All of which ensure that autistic and learning-disabled people are leading things and fully included. The learning being shared has included exploring nature, cookery lessons, therapy, zumba and running tender presentation panels!

We have an ever-growing list of links and resources. If you would like a copy of the list or to join our fortnightly video call about working virtually please email
The Oliver McGowan Mandatory learning disability and autism training for health and care staff
Applications for trial and evaluation partners closed at the end of April and two panels of experts including people with lived experience as autistic people, family carers or people with a learning disability as well as people with professional expertise are now scrutinising the bids. We hope to announce who has been awarded a contract in early June.

Once this has been done we’ll negotiate the timeline for delivery, recognising the extraordinary demands on health and social care services and the social distancing measures that are now in place.

We’re committed to ensuring that the delivery of the training trials is ready to be implemented as soon as the wider context permits. We’re continuing to monitor the emerging situation.
 Guidance from the Government and key stakeholders 

COVID-19 – community support
Volunteering opportunities
Your local covid19 mutual aid group can encourage people with a learning disability / autism to volunteer in their local community. A common task is phoning people for a chat. Find your local group here.

Other volunteering activities can include food shopping or collecting prescriptions.
The Government have published an easy read guide of how to stay safe whilst helping others.

If you know someone who needs extra support
You can help people to access their local mutual aid group or refer them to the NHS volunteers responders scheme.
People with learning disabilities – COVID19 Support and Action Group
The meetings are facilitated by Andrew Lee, Director of People First and Joanne Kennedy, Chair of Change. They are holding weekly Zoom meetings for people with learning difficulties/disabilities around the country.They meet every Wednesday 12.30pm – 2.30pm and it’s an opportunity for people to talk about their feelings, concerns and ideas during the coronavirus lockdown.

Please share this information and also support people to join them.

Email for more information.
Information for people who are caring, unpaid, for friends or family during the coronavirus outbreak.
This guidance from the Department for Health and Social Care is for anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who cannot cope without their support. This may be because they have a lifelong condition, illness, disability, serious injury, mental health condition or an addiction.
Supporting people at risk of displaying challenging or escalating behaviour
Organisations are providing useful guidance on supporting loved ones at home during COVID-19 restrictions.

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation information includes where behaviour may escalate as people are at home more than usual. Click here to access the guidance.

The Learning Disabilities Professional Senate has suggestions around supporting someone with a learning disability when you need to stay at home.

There is also information on managing challenging behaviour, an example of a positive behaviour support plan, and tips around communication.

This also features a trauma-informed care approach to supporting people with learning disabilities.

Click here to access the resources.
Legal Issues
Many websites provide guidance on a range of legal issues including the information and frequently asked questions from the Challenging Behaviour Foundation.

Ambitious about Autism, Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation in partnership with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors are working together to ensure that all professionals act in accordance with their obligations under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 towards disabled adults. For more information click here to access a leaflet which has been produced.

Ten things that all care home managers should know
CASCAIDr (Centre for Adults’ Social Care – Advice, Information and Dispute Resolution) in order to promote good decision-making and protect against misinformation during the COVID-19 crisis have produced a guide for people who run care homes and the wider public. Click here to access the guide.

Legal guidance for mental health, learning disability and autism, and specialised commissioning services supporting people of all ages during the coronavirus pandemic
NHS guidance concerns the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the use of the Mental Health Act and supporting systems to safeguard the legal rights of people receiving mental health, learning disability and autism services, including specialised commissioned services.

It explains the interactions between the Mental Health Act 1983 and the emergency Coronavirus Act. And includes guidance on using the Code of Practice during the COVID-19 pandemic period. The Mental Capacity Act and the Care Act are also considered. It also looks at restraint, restrictive practice and the management of people who refuse to isolate. Mental health act assessments and tribunals are also referenced.

Click here to access the guidance.
Free e-learning on physical healthcare for people with learning disabilities for tier 2 level staff.
This new and free e-learning from Health Education England and Minded is excellent and includes a great video.

It highlights the really critical differences in how people with a severe learning disability may have a usual (for them) baseline in things like temperature, pulse or blood pressure than the general population BUT if they start to become ill these measurements rise – which is the indication that a person is getting ill - but may now read as ’normal for the general population’. In the same way that people’s reaction to pain may be misinterpreted or they may not be able to communicate loss of sense of smell / taste.

This can lead to delay in detecting sepsis and other infections, and this has obvious consequences in pandemic times.

The e-learning covers all this in detail and fully explains in simple easy to understand ways. There are tools for recording and monitoring the unique wellness patterns of each individual and these will alert all involved when changes indicate the person needs medical attention.

Click here to access the e-learning.
DNAR / DNACPR concerns
Learning Disability England recently carried out a survey about Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) decisions during coronavirus. They found that some DNAR decisions had been made either on groups of people or on individuals without consultation with them, their loved ones or the people who support them. This was not in accordance with guidance and best practice, and in some cases could be illegal. A letter from senior NHS leaders to all NHS organisations says that blanket use of DNARs are unacceptable and is repeated here in statements from the Royal Colleges, regulator and sector bodies.

Read the full LDE report and easy read version here

Read the LDE case studies here

Visit the LDE DNAR resource section


Voiceability have created a template letter to raise concerns about restrictions on care where someone has received a DNAR letter from their GP or other professionals. The template can be changed to add your personal details.

Click here to access the template letter.

Click here to access Mencap’s Advance Decisions and Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate decisions (DNAR) guide.
CQC information to better reflect impact on specific groups people
The information that care homes submit to CQC about the deaths of people in their care is published on a weekly basis as part of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reporting on deaths. CQC are now doing further work on this data so that they can better understand the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on specific groups of people, including autistic people and people with a learning disability.
To find out more click here.
NHS Grab and Go Guides provide vital information about a person to medical staff
The Grab and Go Guide is for people with learning disabilities and /or autistic people to help them get treated quickly if they are admitted to hospital because of COVID-19.

The guide aims to help medical staff to understand vital information about an individual’s signs and symptoms, such as breathing problems.The guide is intended to work alongside – not replace - a hospital passport, which should be kept updated.

Grab and Go guidance notes.

Grab and Go form.


Or you can search online for a local hospital passport form by typing: (hospital name) hospital passport.
Inpatient settings
Supporting patients of all ages who are unwell with COVID-19 in mental health, learning disability, autism, dementia and specialist inpatient facilities
People with mental health needs, a learning disability and/or autism who contract COVID-19 within inpatient facilities, may require reasonable adjustments, and that the pandemic has the potential to affect their mental health and wellbeing. Guidance produced in collaboration with the Royal College of Nursing’s Mental Health Programme, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Unite in Health details how to manage this situation, training requirements and patient, family and carer engagement along with other considerations.
Read more here

Human rights
On the 19 May 2020 Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights broadcast an evidence session examining the impact of the government's COVID-19 policies on people with learning disabilities and autistic people detained in secure mental health settings.
You can watch the session here.

The Learning Disability and Autism Community Discharge Grant
In the Budget 2020, announced on 11 March, the government committed to funding a ‘Learning Disability and Autism Community Discharge Grant’ over the next three years to speed up the discharge of individuals with learning disabilities or autism into the community from mental health inpatient care in England.The Grant can help alleviate ‘double running costs’, which have been identified as a barrier to discharge. Double running costs occur in the period before a formal discharge when a person is still an inpatient requiring a bed, and a community care package is also in place. DHSC has written to all TCP leads.
For more information click here.
Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) update
At the end of April the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) published guidance on temporary changes to education, health and care legislation during the COVID-19 outbreak. This guidance is applicable to 31 May 2020 and will be reviewed before 1 June 2020 as it may be extended.

Education, Health and Care needs assessments and plans: guidance on temporary legislative changes relating to coronavirus (COVID-19).

The modification notice referred to in the guidance is available here.

A Ministerial letter to all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and others who support them was published at the same time. Click here to view.
Learning disability nursing degree apprenticeship training available from University of Hertfordshire
This four-year part-time apprenticeship programme will start in September 2020 and there is a Health Education England (HEE) grant available to employers of £7900 per apprentice per year of the programme.

It is a strongly work-based training programme with a peripatetic work-based LD nurse tutor.

This is an exciting opportunity and although we understand that colleagues will be busy with COVID-19, we know that the workforce issues still exist, and so this is an important opportunity to 'grow your own' with support.

There is a Zoom meeting to share information and to discuss on Tuesday 2nd June 13:30 – 14:30.

Instructions for joining the zoom meeting are available once colleagues have registered.

More information.
COVID-19: guidance for people receiving direct payments
Advice for people who buy care and support through a direct payment, as well as local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and those who provide care and support.

Published 21 April 2020, Last updated 7 May 2020

This guidance sets out the main messages for individuals and organisations that can support planning and help slow the transmission of COVID-19. It’s accompanied by a Q&A, mostly aimed at direct payment holders, that directly responds to questions and concerns previously raised by direct payment holders, personal assistants, and charities and organisations that support them.

Click here to access the guidance.
 We want to hear from you... 
Annual health checks – share your experience
In the current COVID-19 situation people are not able to connect with their GPs in the usual way so we would like to know if and how any annual health checks are taking place.

Please share any examples by emailing

Skills for Care has been working with NDTi, LDE and VODG looking at the uptake of annual health checks for people with learning disabilities and autism.
A resource guide is available here.

How are you supporting, keeping connected, keeping active?Due to COVID-19, people might not be accessing their usual range of support and activities outside of where they live.

Here is an example of what Avenues have been doing to support people differently.

We would like to hear from you about some of the great things that you are doing to support each other and stay connected during lockdown.

Please send your examples to

Workers well-being survey – hosted by In Control
It's clear that staff who support people with disabilities and who work in social care, in general, are facing increased challenges and stressors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This survey is looking to get a baseline understanding of the 'current' wellbeing of staff who work in disability services and other social care settings during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland and across the UK.

Click here to find out more and to participate in the survey.
 Other resources to help you  
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