Government implements Dame Christine's recommendations on keyworkers

Recommendations made by CDC’s Director, Dame Christine Lenehan, on the care of children with learning disabilities and autism have been included in the NHS long term plan that was released yesterday.

In Dame Christine’s review of the government’s care and support for children with complex needs, she called for every child at risk or in an inpatient setting (due to their mental health, autism and/or a learning disability) to be assigned a “keyworker” by health or local authority services.

She outlined how this role would provide a liaison point for young people and their families, to help them navigate the system.

The government have confirmed in their long-term NHS plan that this will be implemented by 2023/24.

The report commits to initially providing keyworker support to children and young people who are inpatients or at risk of being admitted to hospital, and extending them to the most vulnerable children with a learning disability and/or autism. This includes those in adoption and in transition between services.  

Dame Christine responded to the announcement:

I am delighted that the NHS has included this key recommendation, which is about ensuring a key point of contact for families, but also continuity of care and advocacy for children and young people. I look forward to seeing its full implementation

In addition to Dame Christine’s recommendation, the government announced in the report the launching of programmes, targets and standards to improve the health and care of children with learning disabilities and autism.

These include:

Addressing the causes of preventable deaths in people with a learning disability and autism

  • introducing specific health checks for people with autism
  • expanding the ‘Stopping over medication of people with a learning disability or autism’
  • funding the ‘Learning Disabilities Mortality Review Programme’  

Improving the understanding of the needs of people with learning disabilities and autism

  • training staff on supporting people with a learning disability and/ or autism
  • introducing National learning disability improvement standards on the themes of: rights, the workforce, specialist care and working more effectively
  • flagging to staff via patient records that a patient has a learning disability or autism
  • bringing hearing, sight and dental checks into special residential schools

Improving the quality of inpatient care across the NHS and independent sector

  • implementing recommendations to restrict the use of seclusion, long-term segregation and restraint for all patients in inpatient settings, particularly for children and young people
  • monitoring and bringing down the length of time people stay in inpatient care settings, and supporting the earlier transfers of care from inpatient settings

Click here to read Dame Christine’s full review ‘These are our children’.

Click here for the NHS long term report.