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.

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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’ under the ‘Subscriptions' area 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 optin to the Learning Disability and/or Autism newsletter under 'Subscriptions'.

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Recent projects

Autism Peer Support roles - We need your help

We’re researching requirements for the introduction of Autism Peer Support roles across the sector so autistic people are supported by autistic people. The aim is to improve the quality of community-based support as they'll be supported by one of their peers who understand their needs. 

If you would like to take part in this research please visit our Get involved page to find out how you can share your feedback with us and the specification of who we would like to hear from.


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 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, National Development Team for Inclusion and the National Autistic Society have developed three resources to support health and social care commissioners improve how they commission services that support autistic people and improve the outcomes for them and their families.

The following three resources have been developed in partnership with autistic people and organisations that are engaged with autistic people:


Explains the things that you need to analyse, the things that you need to do, and who/what organisations you should engage with. It also has links to useful guidance and information to help you identify and plan the changes needed to improve your commissioning practices to deliver person-centred outcomes for local autistic people.

View the framework

Framework diagram

This diagram shows the support services that autistic people and their family members should be able access and therefore the support services you need to commission from diagnosis to post diagnostic assessment including ongoing support.

View the diagram

Population calculator for autistic people

Use can use this tool to estimate the number of autistic people in your area and it covers 2020 to 2035.

View the population calculator

During autumn 2021 we’re planning to run some webinars exploring how to use these resources, sign up to our learning disability and autism newsletter to keep updated.

We would also like to share good commissioning practice examples to support this document so if you have any feedback or examples, please share them with us by emailing

When support for people with a learning disability is commissioned well, it can make a significant difference to someone’s’ life.

Skills for Care developed the Level 5 Commissioning for Wellbeing qualification to support the learning and development needs of people who commission social care services. Throughout 2020 Skills for Care, in partnership with Bespoke Consultancy Education, has been delivering a pilot to deliver the qualification with a learning disability and autism focus in the South West.  

This opportunity is now available across the whole of England and open for expressions of interest.

Find out more about this qualification and how to register your interest.

“An interesting and inspiring course for those who are interested in developing their skills and knowledge in the field of LD & ASD Commissioning." 

“Wellbeing needs to be at the heart of commissioning and this course explores the benefits that wellbeing has for us all. I highly recommend this course.”

Learners from the pilot.

Health Education England has commissioned NDTi and Skills for Care to develop a resource to support people working in health and social care who don’t regularly support people with a learning disability and/or autistic people to understand how to make reasonable adjustments to provide fair and equitable support. There are 5 separate sessions which can be accessed individually or as part of a suite and can be used for self-directed learning, for teams and facilitated sessions.

Improving access to health and social care services by making simple reasonable adjustments is a legal obligation. More importantly it can save lives and significantly improve people’s wellbeing.

I have heard about The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Learning Disability and Autism Training. Is this the same?
No, this learning resource is different to the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training trials and is focussed on making reasonable adjustments. Reasonable adjustments will form an element of the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training; however the trial will cover a much wider content.

Download the A for Adjustment resources.

To read about the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training Trials, vist the HEE website.

Skills for Care often hear that if families caring for a child or young person with a learning disability and/or autism had access to tailored learning and development, then those families would be better equipped to support the person they’re caring for as they move from children's services to adult life. Skills for Care set out to determine what published evidence, if any, existed to support this idea.

This report presents the results of a research project commissioned by Skills for Care and conducted by Research Partners. The research took place between October 2018 and April 2019 and the key aims were to investigate the available evidence on the:

  • knowledge and skills family and/or unpaid carers require
  • availability of learning and development for families and carers
  • impact of existing learning and development, particularly on individuals, their care, support delivery and the impact that this has on service use.

Download the full report for more information

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 #4

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.

You can get an overview of this event such as presentations and FAQ's on the HEE website.


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.