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What’s New

Avoid medication as first resort for challenging behaviour – 2nd June 2015

Antipsychotic medication should only be used in particular circumstances and not as a first resort when managing behaviour that challenges in people with learning disabilities, says NICE. The recommendation comes from latest guidance which covers the support and interventions that should be available for family members and carers of people with a learning difficulty and behaviour that challenges.

Between 5 and 15 per cent of people with learning disability develop behaviour that challenges. This can rise to 30 to 40 per cent in hospital settings, and is particularly high among teenagers and people in their early 20s.

Challenging behaviour can include aggression, self-injury, withdrawal and disruptive or destructive behaviour. It can challenge services, family members or carers. It often results through a combination of personal and environmental factors and can include aggression, self-injury and withdrawal.

Latest NICE guidance recommends considering antipsychotic medication to manage behaviour that challenges only when:

  • psychological or other interventions alone do not produce change within an agreed time
  • treatment for any coexisting mental or physical health problem has not led to a reduction in the behaviour or
  • the risk to the person or others is very severe for example, because of aggression or self-injury.

The full report can be accessed here.

The easy read version can be accessed here.


The College of Social Workers sets out expectations of social workers in delivering Care Act reforms – 30thApril 2015

The College of Social Workers (TCSW) has today set out expectations for practitioners in delivering on the Care Act 2014 reforms in two government-commissioned resources. Its curriculum guide on the act outlines the knowledge and skills that social workers need to develop to effectively implement the act in areas including assessment and eligibility, safeguarding and risk, integration and transitions. It is designed to support practitioners in their professional development and employers and educators to provide effective training and learning.

Alongside this, TCSW has produced a set of capability statements, setting out expectations of social workers of different levels of experience or seniority for delivering on the Care Act. These are based on the nine domains of the College’s professional capabilities framework.

Among the knowledge and skills expected of social workers set out in the curriculum guide are:

  • Embracing and advocating the impact of early intervention in reducing levels of need, in line with the act’s duty on local authorities to prevent needs for care and support.
  • Taking an asset-based approach to assessment, looking at informal and community networks, promoting the expertise of adults and carers and promoting an inclusive approach to assessment to include self-funders.
  • Understanding changes to carers’ entitlements and balancing carers’ needs with the needs of the cared-for person.
  • Developing knowledge of new funding arrangements, deferred payments and providing subsequent appropriate support to self-funders.
  • Making safeguarding personal by starting with the outcomes that an adult wants to achieve, and fully involving them and those important to them in safeguarding.

Deprivation of liberty: 27 case examples to help social workers comply with landmark ruling – 9th April 2015

The Law Society has issued a summary of 27 deprivation of liberty legal cases, including seven it advises should not be followed, in a bid to help social workers, best interest assessors and other professionals comply with a landmark Supreme Court ruling.

The summary of key cases, which can be downloaded here, is included as part of new comprehensive practice guidance on deprivation of liberty published today: Deprivation of liberty: a practical guide (full document) . The guidance, which was commissioned by the Department of Health, also contains practical case studies involving a range of scenarios including care homes, hospitals, supported living, and care for under 18s.

The document aims to help social workers and other practitioners handle the on-going practical fallout of the landmark ruling issued by the Supreme Court last March in the linked cases of P v Cheshire West and Chester Council and P&Q v Surrey County Council. The ruling effectively lowered the threshold for what constitutes deprivation of liberty in care and triggered a surge in cases. Today’s guidance aims to help practitioners identify when the treatment of someone amounts to a deprivation of liberty in the wake of the ruling.