Children and Young People: Learning disabilities and autism

You can download our strategy in two formats 

The Greater Manchester children and young people’s learning disability and Autism programme aims to deliver on the core objectives of the ‘These are our Children’ model of care to provide whole family wrap around support. We aim to ensure that children and young people and their families receive the right support, at the right time within the community in order to prevent unnecessary admissions to hospitals or other inpatient settings. The core elements of the programme include:

  • Ensuring that Greater Manchester boroughs have effective Dynamic Support Registers that identify those children and young people at the most risk of admission and in need of targeted support.
  • The provision of key workers in all Greater Manchester boroughs who work closely with young people and their parents/carers and support local systems to help families in a joined-up way.
  • The delivery of an ‘Ealing model’ therapeutic intensive short breaks service to support those young people and their families who are at the most risk of admission. This service provides clinical psychology, social care and intensive short breaks to children and young people and their families.
  • A broad offer of training to support children and young people and their families both pre and post diagnosis. This includes Riding the Rapids, Paediatric Autism Communication Therapy and Positive Behaviour Support.
  • A targeted approach to the reduction of waiting times for young people who have been referred for a diagnosis of autism and support to people on waiting lists, as well as the provision of a dedicated Autism Hub.

What we’ve achieved

For many years, Greater Manchester has seen low numbers of young people with learning disabilities and autism or both, who are admitted to hospital. As a system, we are committed to reaching the NHS Long Term Plan target for 2024- that is no more than six children and young people inpatients with learning disabilities and autism admitted at any one time.

  • A set of minimum standards have been developed for Greater Manchester Dynamic Support Registers to ensure that they are adequately identifying those young people who would benefit from wrap around support. Greater Manchester boroughs are committed to meeting these standards and are adapting their processes. Monitoring of the registers and how effectively they are functioning is ongoing.
  • Barnardo’s have been chosen as the lead provider for keyworking in Greater Manchester. Recruitment to the Greater Manchester key working model has commenced on a rolling basis and will continue until all posts are filled. Young people and parents/carers have been assessing applicants. This builds on the successful pilots in the localities of Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale and Salford. Feedback shows that keyworkers are already having a positive impact in our pilot areas, ensuring that families get the right support, at the right time.
  • The three main Greater Manchester providers (Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust, Manchester University Foundation Trust and Pennine Care Foundation Trust) have developed their own ‘Ealing model’ therapeutic intensive short breaks service models which are mobilising this year.
  • Greater Manchester training places have been secured for Paediatric Autism Communication Therapy and Riding the Rapids training and PBS training has been purchased.
  • Eleven pilot schemes to support Autism waiting times and pathways have been funded and are currently being trialled.
  • The Autism in Schools project is currently being piloted in Oldham, Wigan, Manchester and Rochdale with a view to roll it out across Greater Manchester in the future. It aims to improve the school environment for Autistic young people, fostering autism-friendly attitudes and supporting school communities to reflect on how they react, respond and view autism. This is being undertaken through a whole school approach, connecting with mental health support teams and through the delivery of training. Parent carer forums are central to the project and driving the work in the localities.

Next steps

 This year, Barnardo’s will recruit up to 20 key workers to work with young people who are at the most risk of an admission to an inpatient setting across all of our boroughs.

  • The workforce will continue to grow, with 40 keyworkers in post by the end of 2023/24.
  • The three main providers are recruiting to their ‘Ealing model’ therapeutic intensive short breaks service services to work with those young people at most risk of admission across all of our boroughs.
  • We will continue to share and test the learning of schemes funded to support waiting times for autism and autism pathways across Greater Manchester.
  • A set of Greater Manchester  standards for autism will be launched in September 2022 which will support services across Greater Manchester and provide the framework for the Autism Hub which will also be launched this year. The hub model is in the development stages and will provide peer support and share good practice whilst offering training and consultation services, supporting families across Greater Manchester.
  • Future expansion of the Autism in Schools project is in development.