Avoiding Hospital Admissions – Learning Disabilities

Learning Disability

From the recent statistics, it shows us that people with a learning disability and/or autistic
people remain vulnerable to admission to mental health facilities and assessment and
treatment units (ATU’s). The reason for admission to these type of settings is often due to
behaviours that may be described as challenging or of concern.

It has been highlighted that these environments are often not set up to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities and/or autistic people. This can result in a deterioration in their wellbeing,
resulting in prolonged hospital stays. The average length of stay in in-patient services is
over 5 years. It is also understood that these type of settings can increase the risk of people
being exposed to restrictive practices (i.e. seclusion, physical, chemical and mechanical
restraints) – the total number of reported restrictive interventions in August 2023 was 5,205,
with 1,140 of these involving children.

Meeting Their Needs

At Bright Futures, we view behaviours of concern as communication of an unmet need and
see it as our responsibility to understand and meet these needs. We aim to do this by
offering holistic person-centred care utilizing both internal and external specialist supports. It
is well known that people’s behaviour is often influenced by the context/environment in which
occurs. By working together, we aim to create capable environments that best meet
people’s needs. This is about ensuring that all elements of the environment are right for the
person including:

  • Physical setting/design
  • Communication/sensory supports
  • Meaningful activity
  • Skills building opportunities
  • Positive social interactions/relationships
  • Choice and control
  • Personal preference/aspirations
  • Health Needs
  • Skilled support staff

Our Great Care Offer supports the development of capable environments for those we
support, which includes our unique STRIVE (Social, Therapeutic, Relationships,
Independence, Vocational, Empowerment) programme and our tiered system of support
(universal, enhanced, intensive) based on people’s needs and quality of life. The positive
outcomes of our approach are often reflected in the personal stories of the people we
support and their families.

Case study: Joseph’s story shared by his parents

“Unfortunately Joseph’s placement broke down in August 2019 due to behavioural issues
and as a result he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Joseph then spent eight
months in the Assessment and Treatment Unit within Macclesfield Hospital……undoubtably
the worst period of our lives… an experience that is still very upsetting to recall and write
about. Joseph was very unhappy in hospital, depressed and sleeping all the time, our visits
to the secure unit consisted of meeting Joseph in a small room which was locked. Our
mission was to find Joseph a new home, to enable him to be discharged from hospital. We
took advice from health professionals and scoured the internet. We visited potential homes
in London, Lincoln, Liverpool, Rochdale and Manchester in our search and finally we found
Bright Futures.

Bright Futures offered Joseph a placement at a new home, Sandycroft, that was in
development. The staff appointed to work with Joseph began to travel down to Macclesfield
to meet Joseph and attend review meetings. When the day arrived for Joseph to move to
Sandycroft, Joseph knew everyone. The staff had decorated Joseph’s bedroom with familiar
things, the transition was seamless and Joseph was extremely happy. Joseph now lives a
happy, fulfilled life at Sandycroft, he goes out every day, he helps around the house and two
mornings a week he delivers the post to other Bright Futures houses in the area.

Apparently a chatty postman who enjoys a cup of tea at the end of his shift. He has been on several
holidays, including two trips to London. In simple terms, if Joseph is happy, we are happy.”
Bright Futures community based care can offer a transformative solution for other individuals
and families just like Joseph. We are passionate about ensuring that people have access to
high quality support, in high quality environments, in order to prevent hospital admissions for
people with learning disabilities and/or autistic people.


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