The learning disability improvement standards for NHS trusts

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We have developed new standards to help NHS trusts measure the quality of care they provide to people with learning disabilities, autism or both.

The standards have been developed with a number of outcomes created by people and families — which clearly state what they expect from the NHS. By taking this approach to quality improvement, it places patient and carer experience as the primary objective, as well as recognising the importance of how the NHS listens, learns and responds in order to improve care.   

The four standards concern: 

  • respecting and protecting rights
  • inclusion and engagement
  • workforce 
  • learning disability services standard (aimed solely at specialist mental health trusts providing care to people with learning disabilities, autism or both)

The standards are intended to help organisations measure quality of service and ensure consistency across the NHS in how we approach and treat people with learning disabilities, autism or both. They are prominent in the learning disability ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan and included in the NHS standard contract 2019/20. We aim to apply the standards to all NHS-funded care by 2023/24. 

The learning disability improvement standards for NHS trusts PDF, 336.8 KB

Our standards have been developed through consultation with trust colleagues, people who use our services and their families/ carers.

Easy read version: the learning disability improvement standards for NHS trusts PDF, 2.8 MB

An easy read version of our learning disability improvement standards for NHS trusts.

Benchmarking exercise

Last year – our pilot year – we commissioned the NHS Benchmarking Network to gather baseline information from providers on their compliance with the standards and the views of staff, people who use NHS services and their families/carers. 

Over 90% of acute, mental health and learning disability trusts took part. This report provides an overview of the themes and learning from this benchmarking exercise. The report will be refreshed annually.

We have developed the first of our planned self-improvement tools — an easy-to-use toolkit piloted with four trusts — to bring people together and facilitate discussions on how well they are supported in acute (hospital) trusts. We will publish this shortly.

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