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Using the learning disabilities framework

Understanding how to use the learning disabilities framework and learning needs analysis tool.

Lisa Proctor, Operational Delivery Manager for HEE's Learning Disabilities Workforce Programme, explains how the Generic Service Interventions Pathway and the learning needs analysis tool have been used as part of a large scale strategic programme of work to upskill the specialist NHS learning disabilities workforce in the West Midlands.

Representing the collective views of specialist mental health providers in workforce planning and development, the West Midlands Mental Health Institute, Learning, Education and Training Council (MHI LETC), have designed a programme of work to improve the capacity and capability of the specialist NHS learning disabilities workforce.

Developing a competency framework for the learning disability workforce

To allow delivery of appropriate workforce development, the first step was to gain an understanding of the skills gaps. The challenge was to develop a tool that could recognise that whilst all the providers carry out essentially the same services, the means of their delivery varies from provider to provider. To address this we focused a competency based approach.

We commissioned and worked with Skills for Health to develop the ‘Generic Service Interventions Pathway’ a framework that details the skills and competences required by staff delivering a generic suite of health and care interventions to people with learning disabilities, regardless of delivery method.

Measuring the skills and gaps in the learning disabilities workforce

Using the new framework the MHI LETC began to measure competence within their teams to gain an insight into skills gaps across the regional workforce.

To compliment the framework, Skills for Health developed an electronic tool that allowed organisations to design bespoke learning needs analysis surveys for their workforce.

The tool was used to conduct surveys across all six organisations and managers were able to pick-and-mix generic service interventions so that teams and individuals received a survey that contained the right questions for their role.

The results

Using the results from the surveys, each organisation was able to analyse their data in a way that best suited the delivery of their services e.g. by teams, departments, type of service etc.

In addition, aggregated data from all organisations was examined to support development of the regional workforce as a whole.

This joined-up approach to analysis allowed us to identify the recurring needs across all themes and establish the most prevalent skills gaps in the region.

Maximising investment

From the analysis a generic training plan for the collective learning disabilities workforce was developed.

This allowed each organisation to address the collective learning needs by identifying and developing shared interventions. Organisations could then add unique learning priorities to their own plan according to their individually identified requirements.

We’ve worked hard to refine this programme of work, resulting in a set of tools that can be used by learning disability teams across any locality. We’re excited to see the long term impact within the West-Midland and we hope that they’re adopted across the whole NHS to support outcome-focused, person-centred care delivery.

Alex's story

This short animated film outlines the real life journey of Alex through some of life’s challenges. It also shows the range of staff that support Alex on this journey and the competences that these staff need.