We estimate that over half a million adult social care workers support people who have 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, and we have resources to help.
They explain what skills and knowledge workers need to support people with a learning disability, their carers and families, and how adult social care employers can develop their staff.
There's lots of work happening, nationally and locally, to develop and support the learning disability and/or autism workforce. Register to receive updates by creating an account on the Skills for Care website, and selecting the ‘Learning disability and/or autism’ option under the ‘Areas of interest’ section.
What skills and knowledge do staff need to support people with a learning disability?
The Core Capabilities Framework for Supporting People with a Learning Disability sets out the skills and knowledge that health and social care workers need to deliver high-quality care and support for people with a learning disability.
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 reviewing and updating the framework in 2019, alongside Skills for Health, Health Education England and NHS England.
This updated framework takes into account the findings from the 'Learning Disabilities Mortality Review', which found that there are some health problems that people with a learning disability might get more than other people, or that health services aren’t good at finding and treating. The framework ensures that staff have the skills and knowledge to do something about this.
Download the framework here.
Download a summary briefing paper here.
You can also use the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines to help you to plan support, identify what learning and development your staff need in order to meet these guidelines, and as a benchmarking tool to ensure that workforce development is achieving the best possible outcomes for people with a learning disability.
This guideline focuses on the support that people with a learning disability might need as they get older.
This guideline covers interventions and support for children, young people and adults with a learning disability and behaviours which challenge.
Learning disability and mental health
People with a learning disability can be more likely to experience poor mental health. We've developed free resources to help adult social care staff talk to people about their everyday mental health, and enable them to get the support they need.
The resources include:
Read more about the project and the resources here.
These worked examples are based on real-life scenarios of people with a learning disability and/or autistic people, who display or are at risk of displaying behaviours which challenge. They explain what workforce that individual needs, what skills and knowledge the workforce needs, and how much this training would cost.
They're for adult social care commissioners and providers, to help you identify learning and development needs and plan support. You can mix and match the examples and draw information from different examples to create your own plan for the person you’re supporting. You can use this template to do this.
- If you support someone who has similar care and support needs you can use the examples as a guide or template to plan their workforce and commission learning and development. You could use the worked example to inform specifications or contracts for support services, or make a ‘business case’ for investing in learning and development.
- If you’re thinking about a population of people in a specific area, you can explore how many people in your area have similar care and support needs to the worked examples, and scale them up to strategically plan and develop the workforce.
Download our 'How to use the worked examples' overview.
Download the worked examples
We've listed the examples in age order. *Please note, we're still testing them with the sector. Please use the online PDF to ensure you have the most up to date version. Email us if you have any feedback.*
Supporting people to have meaningful relationships
Everyone has the right to have meaningful personal relationships, including people with a learning disability. 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.
Our 'Supporting people who need care and support to have meaningful relationships' guide 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 they can create a workforce development programme.
Ensuring people with a learning disability get the right eye care
It's vital that people with a learning disability are supported to access the right eye care and vision services.
Adults with a learning disability are 10 times more likely to have serious eye problems, which can seriously undermine quality of life and lead to avoidable sight loss and increased dependency.
Here are some tips for workers supporting people with a learning disability.
- Support people with a learning disability to have an eye test at least every two years, or more often if needed.
- Understand how people with a learning disability use their sight, and the signs that they might be having difficulty seeing. SeeAbility's Functional Vision Assessment Tool is a great starting point in eye care support - but ensure you share the outcomes and any concerns with an eye care professional.
- Some optometrists offer additional services to support people with a learning disability such as picture tests instead of letters, longer appointments, multiple visits including familiarisation visits, easy read information and staff who’ve had training about the specific needs of people with a learning disability. Use SeeAbility’s optometrist database to find a service in your area.
- Choose a pair of glasses that the person likes and make sure they’re comfortable to wear.
- Ensure the person and staff know when the glasses should be worn, for example reading, watching TV or at all times.
- Record a person’s eye care and vision support in their support plan, communication passport, health action plan and annual reviews.
- It might be useful to introduce the glasses for short spells of time initially to help the person get used to them.
- Support the person to clean their glasses regularly.
- If someone has a visual impairment, organise an assessment by a specialist rehabilitation worker to assess their independence and communication in everyday activities.
SeeAbility has lots of short factsheets and films about eye tests, wearing glasses and eye conditions for people with a learning disability and those who support them.
The workforce supporting people with a learning disability and/or autistic people
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 here.
Transforming care for people with a learning disability
The Transforming Care Programme is designed to improve services for people with a learning disability and/or autistic people, who display or are at risk of displaying behaviours which challenge, including those with a mental health condition.
It's all about driving system-wide change so that more people can live in the community, with the right support, and close to home. This means that fewer people will need to go into hospital for their care.
To do this, there needs to be suitable services available in the community.
The aims of the programme are outlined in the national plan, Building the Right Support.
We're working with other stakeholders to support the ambitions of the Transforming Care programme, by supporting adult social care services to ensure their workforce is confident and capable to support people with a learning disability in the community.
Find out more about the Transforming Care Programme.
Providing positive behavioural support
Positive behavioural support (PBS) is a person-centred approach to people with a learning disability who display or at risk of displaying behaviours which challenge. It involves understanding the reasons for behaviour and considering the person as a whole - including their life history, physical health and emotional needs - to implement ways of supporting the person. It focuses on teaching new skills to replace the behaviour which challenges.
We have resources to help, including a guide to arranging and paying for training in PBS.
Find out more about how you can support people who display or are at risk of displaying behaviours which challenge.