New report demonstrates why UK government must act on advocacy for people with a learning disability and autistic people
A new report reviewing the role of advocacy for people with a learning disability and autistic people in mental health and specialist hospitals in England has been published today (Tuesday).
The ‘Review of advocacy’ report was funded by the UK government and carried out by the National Development Team for Inclusion.
Key findings include:
- people need advocacy to be more easily available
- people need advocacy to be locally consistent/commissioned independently
- people need access to holistic, long-term, person-led advocacy
- people need advocates to work alongside their families
Responding to the findings, Polly Lord, Director of Engagement and Influencing at VoiceAbility, said:
This report makes clear people with a learning disability and autistic people in mental health hospitals are not getting the advocacy support they are legally entitled to and so desperately need.
“The awful experiences of so many people with a learning disability and autistic people in mental health hospitals, which can include solitary confinement and being detained in unsuitable environments for years at a time, requires a more specialist advocacy service.
“It needs advocates with specific training and experience who can work effectively with the person, and their families, throughout their time in hospital and ensure their voice is heard.
“We urgently need government to take responsibility for nationally commissioning this specialist advocacy service.
Most of all, we need well-designed and reliably delivered community support as the route to everyone being able to live a good life.
You can read the report in full on the National Development Team for Inclusion website.
The case for a nationally commissioned model
Last year, VoiceAbility published a paper setting out the case for a nationally commissioned model.
A parliamentary committee recommended earlier this year that “the Government should examine the case for a Central Advocacy Service” for people with a learning disability and autistic people in mental health hospitals. The government’s response has not yet been published.
There were over 2,000 people with a learning disability and autistic people in mental health and specialist hospitals at the end of September 2023.
A House of Commons Health Select Committee report in 2021 found that “autistic people and those with learning disabilities can find themselves experiencing intolerable treatment in inpatient facilities which has included being subject to abusive restrictive practices”.