The NHS Long Term Plan sets out learning disability and autism programme commitments for children and young people for the next ten years.
One of those commitments is to work with others to make sure that children and young people with a learning disability, autism or both in special residential schools have access to eyesight, hearing and dental checks.
We know that children and young people with a learning disability, autism or both are more likely to have eyesight, hearing and dental problems. They may also struggle to access existing services and need reasonable adjustments to help them to do that.
Children and young people in special residential schools and colleges have a range of complex health and other needs. With a new offer provided in special residential schools and colleges, for children and young people up to 25, we can make sure that health inequalities for these children and young people are reduced and they get high quality care where they live.
This work builds on the learning from work by SeeAbility at special schools in London which identified high levels of unmet need in eye care for these children and young people.
We are working together with people with a learning disability, autism or both , their families and carers, special schools, clinicians and other stakeholders to develop commissioning frameworks for these new services which will meet the needs of children and young people and the people who support them in the residential school settings. The new sight service will also be available in special school settings.
Supporting health staff to carry out sensory health checks
To support this work, a new e-learning programme has recently been launched by Health Education England. This will help support dental teams, eye care staff and audiologists to carry out sensory health checks for children and young people with complex learning disabilities and autism and the special residential schools and colleges which support them.
Some children and young people with a learning disability, autism or both can have difficulties understanding, receiving, and responding to information and may experience sensory processing difficulties. Children and young people with these issues may have an adverse reaction to anything that under or overstimulates their senses, such as light, sound, touch, taste, or smell. This can affect their behaviour and ability to interact with other people making it more difficult for them to access health checks.
The video led interactive resource seeks to introduce the professionals who will be providing oral health, eye care and audiology services to the environment of a special residential school or college.
Participants will benefit from knowledge and understanding of the children and young people who they will be supporting and advice and guidance on how to personalise their service to meet their needs to facilitate sensory checks.
Supporting families and children and young people
New resources for parent carers have been produced by working in partnership with SeeAbility, Contact and the National Deaf Children’s Society to help empower families to care for their children and young people’s eyes, oral health and hearing. New resources are also planned for children and young people.
Impact of coronavirus
Coronavirus has had an impact on schools including residential special schools which are also registered care settings. This has impacted the timing and scope of pilot work for all three areas.