Speciality: Adult Learning Disabilities
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Speciality: Paediatric Community
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Recent reports have highlighted a number of concerning cases regarding the treatment of people with learning disabilities and autism. The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has highlighted this, and pointed out that there are some key improvements that could be made in how carers communicate with people dealing with these specific needs.
A Children’s Commissioner report found that the number of children with learning disabilities or autism living in mental health hospitals has doubled since 2015, which is concerning as the levels of available care they have access to is very variable. Another report, from the Care Quality Commission, found an increase in patients such as this being held on long-term segregation.
The Third Report from the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review also brought concerns over quality of care to the RCSLT’s attention, as did a BBC Panorama expose showing carers using abusive language to people with learning disabilities. The organisation has suggested that a key focus needs to be on communication.
Most people with learning disabilities or autism also deal with speech, language or communication difficulties, and the RCSLT says the above reports highlight what can happen when these issues are not acknowledged or sufficiently supported.
The organisation recommended that reasonable adjustments be put in place to “support all people with a learning disability and/or autism to communicate their wishes, needs and feelings”. It also urged that all services be required to embed the Five Good Communication Standards within their practice.
In addition, the RCSLT emphasised the need for care to be provided to autistic and learning-disabled patients by multi-disciplinary teams, which should include speech and language therapists.
Written by Martin Lambert
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