The Government is consulting on a draft code of practice which will ensure health and care staff, including GPs, receive training on learning disabilities and autism ‘appropriate to their role’.
Since July last year, all CQC-registered health and social care providers including GP practices in England have been required to provide training for their staff in learning disability and autism, including how to interact with autistic people and people who have a learning disability.
The legal requirement was introduced by the Health and Care Act 2022, but the Government has now launched a consultation on the Oliver McGowan Code of Practice, which outlines how providers can meet the new requirement.
The BMA’s GP Committee last month said that the Act does not specify a training package or course for staff and that the CQC ‘cannot tell practices specifically how to meet their legal requirements in relation to training’.
The Government’s draft code says that CQC-registered providers must ensure that all staff, regardless of role or level of seniority, have ‘the right attitude and skills to support people with a learning disability and autistic people’ and will need to demonstrate to the CQC how their training meets or exceeds the standards set out in the code.
The code is named after Oliver McGowan, an autistic teenager with a mild learning disability, who died after having a severe reaction to medication which he and his family had asked for him not to receive.
Paula and Tom McGowan, Oliver’s parents, have since campaigned for better training for health and care staff.
In 2019 the Government committed to develop and test a learning disability and autism training package to be made available to all health and social care staff.
The training has been trialled with over 8,000 participants and independently evaluated to ‘ensure the final package is robust and high quality’, the Government said.
Health minister Maria Caulfield said: ‘People with a learning disability and autistic people deserve care that is personalised to them, and it’s important for staff to have the right skills to provide this.
‘We want as many people as possible to contribute to this consultation so that we can continue working towards a society where everyone knows their needs will be met when they walk into a hospital or care setting.’
Tom Cahill, national director for learning disability and autism at NHS England, said: ‘This is a significant step towards improving awareness, knowledge and skills of all health and care staff in looking after and supporting people with a learning disability and autistic people.
‘The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism will ensure that people with a learning disability and autistic people receive the right levels of care and support that meet their individual needs.’
Paula and Tom McGowan said: ‘The launch of the consultation is a significant milestone on improving health and care outcomes and is an essential step in ensuring that people who have a Learning Disability and Autistic people receive appropriate and timely access to meet their health and care needs.’
The union added that while NHS England and ICBs may share the Government’s training programme preference and encourage uptake, it is ‘ultimately for practices to determine how their staff are trained to meet their legal requirements’.
The consultation closes on 19 September.
The standards for training detailed in the consultation
All staff receive training that covers a minimum curriculum of capabilities from the ‘Core capabilities framework for supporting people with a learning disability’ and the ‘Core capabilities framework for supporting autistic people’ on the Skills for Health Supporting autistic people and/or people with a learning disability page. Further training beyond this minimum curriculum is proportionate and tailored to the requirements of staff at different levels and in different roles, taking into account the tiers and capabilities set out in the core capabilities frameworks.
All staff receive training that enables them to explore how they will put their learning into practice. Examples include tailored materials and learning tools to help staff understand how to apply their learning to their specific work setting and the people they work with.
All staff receive a minimum amount of live and interactive training that is co-produced and co-delivered by people with a learning disability and autistic people. For staff who require a general awareness of learning disability and autism, this is a minimum of one hour of live and interactive training with a person with a learning disability and an autistic person. For staff with responsibility for providing care and support for a person or people with a learning disability or autistic people and for staff with a higher level of autonomy, who manage complex care or lead on learning disability and autism services, this is a minimum of one day of in-person training. This is in addition to a compulsory e-learning module of at least 90 minutes covering the tier 1 capabilities set out in Standard 1 which all staff must complete.
All staff receive training that is based on evidence and is quality-assured through trialling, ongoing evaluation and accreditation. People with a learning disability and autistic people must be meaningfully involved in these processes.
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