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Learning Disability Health Service

The Community Children’s Learning Disability Health Service works to improve outcomes for children and young people in Wiltshire with learning disabilities, enabling them to reach their full potential.

We work in partnership with parents, carers, carers’ families and the multi-agency team. This joint working allows us to provide integrated, person centred, proactive, responsive and evidence-based healthcare.

We are a specialist team that provides a flexible and accessible service that gives support and advice to families who have a child or young person with a learning disability.

We assess the needs of children and young people with a learning disability and work with them and their families to develop, deliver and monitor programmes of care and support to meet their needs.

We work with children and young people when universal services, which means the services any young person can access like health visitors, school nurses or GPS, cannot meet their needs.

Everything we do relies on our ability to work with and co-ordinate with other services, including social services, education professionals and other health services.

We are a specialist team who work to improve complex and challenging behaviours, usually focused around:

  • Eating and nutrition
  • Sleeping
  • Toileting and continence
  • Personal hygiene
  • Sexual health
  • Behaviour

How can we help?

Children’s Learning Disability Nurses are specialised in providing practical support, advice and assistance in a number of areas for children and young people with learning disabilities.

To do this, we initially conduct a holistic assessment of healthcare needs. Depending on the requirements of the individual, we provide:

  • Early intervention – to prevent a young person from developing further problems or have their difficulty worsen
  • Prevention of escalating need
  • Promotion of wellbeing through education
  • Fixed term episodes of specialist intervention, for example, behaviour management
  • Improving access for children and young people with learning disabilities
  • Advice to enable children and young people with a learning disability and their families to develop strategies that will assist with managing emotions and maintaining appropriate relationships
  • Help with enabling children and young people to engage with a wide range of short break opportunities
  • Reduction and targeting of inequalities
  • Support in the young person’s transition to adult services
  • Family support and empowering of parents and carers to support their child, at home and in the community, reducing family breakdown and stress and have positive and enjoyable experiences as a family
  • Intensive support to children and young people and their families at risk of breakdown to reduce their need for ‘out of county’ placements
  • Work in partnership with a wide range of services in both statutory and voluntary agencies to identify in particular mental health needs and provide consultation, advice and training
  • Education of staff in mainstream settings fully understand the healthcare needs of a child or young person with a learning disability to enable them to assess and meet their holistic needs
  • Safeguarding children and young people

We work in partnership with a wide range of agencies to achieve outcomes.

Who might my child see?

The young person will be allocated a named nurse who is a registered Learning Disability Nurse. They will work with other professionals who are involved with the young person’s care as required. This could include:

  • Paediatric consultant
  • GP
  • Health visitor
  • School nurse
  • Social worker
  • School staff
  • Pre-school staff
  • Occupational therapist
  • Physiotherapist

What conditions do we support?

Children and young people with a learning disability have an overall pattern of intellectual functioning that is significantly lower than that of the general population, with associated impairments in social functioning.  This gives rise to a variety of difficulties for this group of children and young people. If a child or young person has significant unmet health, emotional or behavioural needs, a referral to a Specialist Children’s Nurse (LD) may be appropriate.

Learning disability includes the presence of:

  • A significantly reduced ability to understand new or complex information, which has a lasting effect on development
  • A reduced ability to cope independently, and also impaired social functioning, which has a lasting effect of development

The service supports children and young people who have a diagnosis of a learning disability or a working diagnosis of a learning disability.

More specifically the Learning Disability Health Service uses the following list of issues, where there is a significant impact on the child or young person.

  • Health issues
  • Facilitating access to primary & secondary Health Services
  • Continence issues
  • Child/young person welfare issues where health concerns are a component
  • Poor sleep pattern which affects child/young person’s health
  • Specific syndrome/condition which has a detrimental effect on health
  • Child/young person requires intensive/invasive nursing treatment
  • Complications or queries regarding medication
  • Vulnerability issues
  • Puberty issues
  • Behaviour
  • Self harm
  • Anti-social
  • Verbal aggression
  • Self stimulatory/stereotypical
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviour

How to make a referral

Referrals can be made through the Request for support form. See the Single Point of Access (SPA) page for information on the referral process.

What happens next?

Once the young person has been allocated a named nurse, the nurse will contact the family directly and make an appointment for a screening assessment visit. This is usually in the family home. However, we can offer an alternative location if required. We may also need to visit the young person in their educational setting to support the process.

The nurse will then discuss the assessment process with you to formulate and agree a Health Care Plan.

We will work with a child or young person until their needs are met, which usually takes 6-8 sessions. We will always refer on to universal services who can continue to support a young person once their needs have improved.

In some instances, we will refer on to further specialist services if we cannot support a young person.

Families can re-refer once they are known to our team, if they feel they need further support.

Useful links and resources