Mental health trust initiative improves services for people with learning disabilities

PUBLISHED: 09:42 21 June 2017

Hellesdon Hospital.  Photo: Bill Smith

Hellesdon Hospital. Photo: Bill Smith

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A national initiative to improve mental health services for patients with learning disabilities or autism has been introduced at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

Sue Bridges, professional lead for learning disabilities and autism at the NSFT. Photo: NSFT Sue Bridges, professional lead for learning disabilities and autism at the NSFT. Photo: NSFT

The initiative, known as the Green Light Toolkit focuses on making adjustments to the care that people with learning disabilities or autism receive.

These include providing easy-to-read paperwork; ensuring signs at Hellesdon Hospital are accessible; developing a clearer website for the Suffolk Autism Diagnostic Service; providing photographs of members of staff to aid recognition, and Using blue envelopes when posting appointment letters so that they are easy to identify and more likely to be opened.

Some 128 NSFT staff members are working across the trust to promote the initiative. The trust is also finalising its first learning disabilities and autism strategy, which was developed in partnership with patients, families, carers and staff. This includes simple steps as well as more complex changes, such as reviewing care pathways.

Sue Bridges, professional lead for learning disabilities and autism at the NSFT, said: “We are really proud of the positive changes that have been made in such a short period of time.

“The feedback we’ve received from service users and their families about the project so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and they really appreciate the extra focus we are placing on making sure our services meet their needs.

“The next stage of the programme will see us carry out additional training and education with our staff before launching our strategy later this summer.”

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