The social care sector is joining together to stop the over-medication of people with a learning disability or autism who use care services in England. The campaign, supported by NHS England, is today encouraging all learning disability providers to sign up to a new pledge called STOMP (or STopping the Over-Medication of People with a learning disability, autism or both).
This campaign is badly needed. Public Health England estimates that every day between 30,000-35,000 people with a learning disability are taking prescribed antipsychotic or antidepressant medication, or both, without appropriate clinical justification. This means that for some people medication is being used as a means of controlling “problem” behaviour, even when alternative evidence-based approaches are available. Long-term use of these medicines can lead to significant weight gain, organ failure and, in some cases, death.
Successfully tackling over-medication is possible when prescribers, commissioners and providers collaborate to achieve positive change. Today, all social care provider organisations supporting people with a learning disability or autism in England are invited to play their part by registering their commitment to:
· Adopting positive behavioural approaches as an alternative to medication
· Advocating for people with a learning disability or autism by ensuring that they, and their family members, are involved in decisions about their medication and that these decisions are reviewed regularly
· Working closely with prescribers
via this link.
The STOMP initiative is supported by NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and Skills for Care and involves organisations representing social care providers, people with a learning disability or autism and their families, including:
· Association for Real Change
· British Institute of Learning Disabilities
· Care England
· Learning Disability England
· National Care Forum
· The Challenging Behaviour Foundation
· Voluntary Organisations Disability Group
Carl Shaw, learning disability advisor for NHS England commented on behalf of people with a learning disability or autism:
“A care provider’s role is to support people to live the life they choose but if they are wrongly prescribed psychotropic medication then they aren’t living a life of their choosing. If you help people to take the right medication then their quality of life will be closer to how they want it to be”.
While Hazel Watson, head of mental health and learning disabilities at NHS England emphasized the importance of front-line staff in making a positive difference:
“Thousands of people with a learning disability are supported by social care providers. Their commitment to the principles of STOMP, ensuring people are on the right medication for them, is really important. Social care staff are in a unique position to support lots of people to get their medication right.”
Head of workforce development body Skills for Care, Sharon Allen OBE says:
“Skills for Care is spreading the word about the STOMP campaign in the social care sector. With the support of our resources, social care providers can give people working in the sector the skills and confidence to use alternative approaches, stop inappropriate use of medication and where necessary advocate for people when they think medication is being overused.”
VODG (Voluntary Organisations Disability Group) chief executive Professor Rhidian Hughes says:
“The STOMP initiative is an excellent example of how cross-sector working can make a meaningful difference to individuals. When social care providers, commissioners and clinicians actively collaborate to ensure that people receive the optimum medication and when side effects are minimised, this significantly improves people’s quality of life. VODG will be supporting providers to implement STOMP throughout the year ahead.”