oliver2 It is estimated that there are half a million autistic people living in the UK. 

We estimate that over half a million adult social care workers support people who are living with a learning disability and/or autistic people in England. 

It's vital that these workers have the right values, skills and knowledge to provide high quality, person-centred care and support.  

We’ve worked with the National Autistic Society and Skills for Health to develop resources to help you ensure that your staff have the right skills and knowledge when working with autistic people.

Our resources explain what skills and knowledge workers need to support autistic people, their carers and families, and can help employers to develop their workforce. 

To support us on this work Skills for Care facilitates an 'expert group of people with a learning disability and autistic people' to make sure the resources meet sector needs.

Keep up-to-date

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There's lots of work happening, nationally and locally, to develop and support the learning disability and/or autism workforce. Create an account and select ‘Learning disability and/or autism’ option under the ‘Areas of interest’ section to keep up to date with the latest news and developments.

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Login and click on 'Update your contact preferences' under the 'Manage account settings' box. Then select the ‘Learning disability and/or autism’ option under the ‘Areas of interest’ section. 

You can also read the latest newsletters: 

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Recent projects

Skills for Care and HEE are co-ordinating the development of training that aims to make sure staff working in health and social care receive learning disability and autism training, at the right level for their role. They'll have a better understanding of people’s needs, resulting in better services and improved health and wellbeing outcomes. The training is also being co-produced and delivered by autistic people, people with a learning disability and family carers to make sure it meets their needs.

The training is named after Oliver McGowan whose sad death shone a light on the need for health and social care staff to have better training that offers a greater understanding and will help improve their skills and confidence when delivering care to people with learning disabilities and autistic people.

Following Oliver McGowans death, in November 2019 the Government published 'Right to be heard' its response to the consultation on proposals for introducing mandatory learning disability and autism training for health and social care staff. The response included a commitment to develop a standardised training package and it will draw on existing best practice, the expertise of people with autistic people, people with a learning disability and family carers as well as subject matter experts. Oliver M banner

Want more information about the trials and evaluation?

Skills for Care is coordinating all enquiries about the trials and evaluation, on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care and Health Education England. If you have a question, please email us or the HEE.

Visit the Health Education England webstie to find out more about Oliver's campaign, the trial partners, what the training looks like and some useful FAQs.

Skills for Care in partnership with East Sussex County Council (ESCC), Adult Social Care Training Team has developed a guide which sets out how to support people with learning disabilities and autistic people with some of the current COVID-19 challenges. These practical guidelines will help staff, carers and family members support people to adapt their behaviour without increasing anxiety for themselves or the person they’re caring for.

There's also a range of  resources which can be used to support people with learning disabilities and autistic people which include easy read documents, videos, social stories and webinars and they cover a range of topics from COVID-19, communication, face coverings, handwashing and other PPE topics.

Find out more

Skills for Care has developed an Individual Service Fund workforce guide where someone who needs care and support chooses an organisation to manage the budget on their behalf. The guide shares key workforce learning and benefits of ISFs; how to introduce and implement them and how to overcome some of the challenges, as well as some of the learning and development implications.

Visit the Commissioning page to find out more information and download the guide.


Upcoming events

The Oliver McGowan mandatory training in learning disabilities and autism -Stakeholder forum #3 Tuesday 6 July 2021 | 10:00 - 12:00

The Oliver McGowan mandatory training in learning disabilities and autism aims to ensure staff working in health and social care receive learning disability and autism training, at the right level for their role.

The purpose of this event is to update anyone working to support people with learning disabilities and autistic people about the progress to date on the work currently taking place with partners to design, develop, trial and develop the training. It will allow stakeholders the opportunity to provide an update, obtain feedback and answer any questions raised.

Find out more and book now


Information and resources to support people with a learning disability and/or autism


The Core Capabilities Framework for Supporting Autistic People sets out the skills and knowledge that health and social care workers need to deliver high-quality care and support for people with autism.

You can use it to support the development and planning of the workforce, and to inform the design and delivery of education and training programmes. 

Skills for Care was involved in developing the framework in 2019:

Our Autism awareness learning resources lists training materials that have been developed by a range of organisations in the sector. The materials can help you to increase awareness and understanding of autism, so that your workforce better recognise and respond to the needs of autistic people.

Here are some other resources we've developed. 

  • How to do a great assessment for someone who has autism will be useful for social workers, community care assessors, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and other health professionals, including those who are working to assess people for benefit claims. It will provide these workers with the knowledge to undertake assessments with autistic people. 
  • How to be a great autistic individual employer is for autistic individual employers who are employing a personal assistant(s) for themselves or on behalf of an autistic person.
  • How to be a great personal assistant for someone with autism is for personal assistants who are providing care and support for an autistic person.


Everyone has the right to have meaningful personal relationships, including people with learning disabilities and/ or autistic people.

It’s vital that adult social care workers have the right values, skills and knowledge to support people with personal relationships – and training is a vital part of this.

This guidance helps employers to think about how they can develop their staff through training. It explains what workers need to know and understand about personal relationships, and how you can create a workforce development programme. 

This research report (published in December 2018) explores the adult social care workforce supporting people with learning disabilities and/or autistic people, using data from the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care. 

Here are some of the key findings. 

  • There were an estimated 665,000 jobs in the learning disabilities and/or autism workforce. 
  • 57,600 workers were in the local authority sector and 575,000 were in the independent sector. 

Download the full report.