The “Who I Am Matters” report looks at the experiences of people with a learning disability and autistic people while in hospital and recognises that for too long people with learning disabilities and autistic people have not been able to access the care and support they need. The authors listened to the experiences of people with learning disabilities, autistic people, their families and carers, to get an in-depth picture of the experiences people had when going to hospital.
Amongst the health inequalities described, the report recognises that people with learning disabilities and autistic people are more likely to experience restraint, including chemical restraint and the use of psychotropic medication, than the wider population. We were saddened to read the numerous examples where a lack of reasonable adjustments and appropriate communication have contributed to the likelihood of avoidable restrictive practices being used.
The RRN welcomes the report’s call for staff to receive training appropriate to their role so that they can make the reasonable adjustments that meet peoples’ needs required by law. We have known for many years that this is a minimum necessity to ensure staff have the skills to care for people with learning disabilities and autistic people.
Where hospital staff are trained to understand and supported to better communicate with and provide care to people with learning disabilities and autistic people, and where priority is placed on relational working focussed on building positive relationships, reliance on restrictive practices within hospital settings will likely reduce, ultimately protecting human rights, wellbeing and dignity of patients.
The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disability and Autism is an important step towards ensuring that people with learning disabilities and autistic people can access the medical care they are entitled to, and we are pleased that Health Education England has launched the roll out of this training this week.
In addition to the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training, further training needs should be addressed to reduce the instances of restrictive practices occurring within hospital settings.
Alexis Quinn, Manager of the Restraint Reduction Network states, “While we are pleased that the RRN Training Standards are a legal requirement within mental health units, there is no such requirement at present within acute hospital settings. It is important that training for all hospital-based staff, including hospital security staff emphasises prevention and de-escalation and we look forward to the training standards being applied in these settings in future”.