30 August 2018

Mile End hospital based Tower Hamlets Community Learning Disability Service (CLDS) have been nominated  for the Breakthrough Positive Practice in Mental Health awards 2018. 

Shortlisted for excellence in Quality Improvement and Innovation in community mental health, the  team is being recognised for delivering a visionary care programme as well as setting standards nationally for a service that puts patient’s needs first.

‘We put an emphasis on giving our clients access to developing strong communication skills and work hard to encourage people to find positive alternatives to medication where possible. This means bringing a wide range of experts together in multidisciplinary reviews which allows us to make well informed person centred decisions, on a case by case basis. 

‘We make sure that everyone taking medication gets a review at least once a year, and we have strong links with primary care services in the borough to make sure everyone in their care is supported to get their medication reviewed.  The STOMP (Stop Overmedication of People with Learning Disabilities) programme is something we support strongly’, said CLDS Lead Speech and Language Therapist, Niah Gaynair.

The team have pioneered an innovative approach to genetic testing. They work alongside the  Clinical Genetics Service to provide a specially tailored package for people identified with genetic conditions. Then, not only are they given an explanation of their disabilities, but a more personalised method of intervention is tailored to help people lead more independent lives. 

Working to advance equality

The service is also trailblazing good practice in the way it addresses and advances equality. People from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are often less likely to access and receive mental health care, often due to communication barriers, and Tower Hamlets is one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs in the whole country.  In order to support the whole community's diverse needs, the service offers longer, flexible appointments and work to ensure staff are trained to a high level of expertise. To further build on their equality agenda, the service actively recruits from the local area. ‘The Bangladeshi community make up a large part of the local population, and we work hard to understand their specific cultural needs to make sure they get full access to the services we provide, should they need them’, said Niah.

Other innovations include the joint running of the Learning Disability Epilepsy Clinic within the Acute Hospital involving community nurses, to help ensure people with learning disabilities get optimum treatment for their epilepsy, and the development of a maternity pathway so mothers with learning disabilities and their children can access the best in care.

The awards ceremony takes place in Liverpool in October.