People with complex needs are stuck in inpatient care because of chaotic systems

Service users are being let down by lack of strategic support

Service users are being let down by lack of strategic support

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Delays in hospital discharge plans and system-wide problems are hindering the transfer of people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions to the community, a report found.

The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) has produced a report on the challenges encountered in a pilot project that sought community-based accommodation plans for 27 people who had been in inpatient settings for more than five years.

The group hopes its findings will inform NHS England’s Transforming Care programme, which seeks to close inpatient beds and move people closer to home.

VODG chief executive Rhidian Hughes said: ‘Our pilot work clearly shows that each individual we supported would have been able to live well in a local community, with the right housing and support. However, this aim was often undermined by multiple, often system-wide issues that delayed or blocked a move out of hospital.’

Negative attitudes

The problem was not a lack of community-based care providers, but the fact that there was not a strategic approach to identifying appropriate support for each person.

Negative attitudes to individuals, sometimes demonstrated by them being referred to by a number rather than their name, were among problems identified.

Moving services users into the community requires a skilled workforce to support people once they have moved, the report said.

It called for clearer communication between professionals, better accountability arrangements and earlier identification and sourcing of housing.

'We're seeing confusion and chaos'

Speaking in response to the report, RCN professional lead for learning disabilities Ann Norman called for urgent investment in learning disability nurses to help support the long-term well-being of people with complex needs.

‘No one should be living in a hospital for five years. We are seeing a picture of confusion and chaos and where people with learning disabilities are not getting the right support and care they deserve,' she said.

'There is massive under investment which will see yet more premature and unnecessary deaths of people with a learning disability.’

Further information

Read the VODG report

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