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Better care for patients with learning disabilities at SSSFT

Wed 4th November, 2015
Better care for patients with learning disabilities at SSSFT

South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) started adoption of Listening into Action (LiA) in March this year.

The first 10 pioneering LiA Clinical Teams are about to complete their first round of work. Each has been following the LiA 7 Step 20 week process to decide on and deliver a small number of big impact changes that they know will improve care for their service users.

Paul Sabine is a Charge Nurse and a member of the Trust-wide LiA Sponsor Group. Like all LiA Sponsors, Paul is linked to one of these 10 teams, and he is very impressed with what they have achieved so far.

“I recently had an email and phone call from our County Dietician:

"Please pass my compliments to the team. The standard of care has been what I would only expect from a specialist unit”.

Compliments like this are all too rare, but provide an amazing sense of achievement and motivation when they come. This one arrived right in the middle of our first round of LiA work, which was being led by teams 'out there' delivering our services.

At SSSFT, our Laurel Ward, Pine Ward and Shropshire Learning Disability Team are working together to improve care for patients with learning disabilities who are admitted to Acute Mental Health wards - through improved joint working. A patient with learning disabilities is 10 times more likely to be involved in incidents of harm, and their length of stay in hospital is likely to be twice as long. Our teams wanted to change this.

Our LiA Team Conversation - involving a wide range of staff - highlighted a number of great ideas. I particularly liked the idea of Mental Health and Learning Disability teams attending each other’s training. Cross-learning and training each other - sometimes the simplest ideas are the best!

We also realised that on admission, patients with a learning disability are often told: “This is not the right place for you”. How can we expect to achieve the best possible care when we start from such a negative base? The solution: make it the right place!

It was into this mind-set that a young lady with learning disabilities was admitted under the Mental Health Act due to refusal to eat or drink and severe weight loss. She was told: “You are in the right place”. She stayed on the ward for 10 days and there were no incidents of harm. Within this caring environment she quickly began eating again. It was the quality of physical monitoring and emotional care during this re-feeding process that compelled the Dietician to pay such a high compliment: “Working to the standard I’d only expect from a specialist unit”.

Working in a way that unlocks the ideas and motivation of our teams is great, and results in compliments like these which are so nice for a team to receive. This one, I think, is testament to the motivational force of feeling empowered on our LiA journey and in control of the care we deliver".

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