I visited eleven services last week and was particularly impressed, when I visited The Paddocks in Essex, with the positive attitude of the staff team who are actively looking for voluntary employment opportunities for a complex young man with autism. It is really important that we see peoples’ potential, rather than letting their disability or their behaviour get in the way. Our Social Inclusion campaign is continuing and I am very impressed with the number of responses I am receiving from different services sharing good practice. Those e-mails are shared throughout CMG so all staff can read them. I hope they inspire our teams to try something new for the lives of the people we support. We are preparing a newsletter for front line staff which will include a number of these case studies to help motivate an inspire them.
I am the provider representative on the Learning Disability Programme Board, which is chaired by the Minister, Norman Lamb. I am impressed by the range of policy work that is underway looking to improve the lives of people with Learning Disabilities. This includes work on employment, reducing early mortality and on the support people with Learning Disabilities receive in the criminal justice system. I raised this specific issue of why the positive behaviour support academy was not included in the NHS England response to the Bubb report. I was told that this is because there is going to be a work force programme to look at how we employ and train our staff with the expertise to support people with complex challenging behaviour in the community. Whilst I would agree with that aim it misses two very important additional actions which are required nationally. Firstly, there needs to be clear standards set as, currently, anyone can claim to be a positive behaviour support (PBS) provider and there are no set standards or accreditation schemes in place. Secondly, not all commissioners will have the expertise to commission person centred services designed around the needs of individuals, as the late professor Jim Mansell recommended for many years, and there is a danger that they will commission new institutions to replace the older ones.
We have a very real example of the challenges that are faced in providing community based services for people with the most complex and challenging needs. We have been asked to provide a single person service for a young man who can present the most extreme challenges and who requires three to one support. He will be joining us in the next two months and we are planning his service extremely carefully and with huge attention to detail. We also want to work very closely with all the health professionals who know him so that we can get his service right and help him achieve the outcomes that he and his family wants. This is someone who could very easily end up languishing in a hospital setting for many years.