Changes to Community Learning Disability Services in Leeds

Changes to Community Learning Disability Services in Leeds

The Trust’s new-look community service went live on Monday 25 September 2017 with the aims of improving access for people and reducing waiting times. The Trust has also introduced new criteria for those being referred into the service to ensure people who really need specialist support get it quickly.


The Trust started a review of its Community Learning Disability Service in May 2016. The NHS is currently highly focused on learning disability services, in light of lessons learned from Winterbourne View and the subsequent development of the Transforming Care agenda.

The Transforming Care programme and the Trust’s review of services aim to address long-standing issues to ensure:

  • there is more choice for people and their families and that they get more say in their care;
  • there is more care in the community, with personalised support provided by multi-disciplinary health and care teams;
  • there are more innovative services to give people a range of care options, with personal budgets, so that care meets individuals’ needs;
  • there is more intensive early stage support for those who need it, so that people can stay in the community, close to home; and
  • people who do need in-patient care are only there for as long as they need to be.


Who’s been involved in the review?

The project has been run by a team at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust supported by a Project Board made up of a range of agencies and professionals including local NHS commissioners, adult social care and the local learning disability forum Tenfold.

The project board signed off a new model of care in January 2017 and the Trust has been working with staff and partners on shaping the new service, which will go live on Monday 25 September 2017.


What’s changed?

The majority of people with learning disabilities currently receiving services from the Trust will not see any changes.

There are however two key changes that will come into effect from 25 September:

  1. A new criteria for anyone being referred into the service
  2. A change to our team structures


  1. Changes to referral criteria

Community learning disability service userOur review found that our community service could not clearly describe what its core purpose was. In addition, the drive from Transforming Care is for people with a learning disability (LD) to be able to access mainstream services more easily. Both of these things have enabled us to clearly define ourselves as a specialist learning disability service for complex multiple impairments, mental health and challenging behaviour.

From 25 September the service will accept referrals for people with a learning disability with two or more of the following:

  • The service user has been unable to have their mental health and/or physical health needs met through mainstream service provision with support and reasonable adjustments
  • The presence of behaviours that challenge, where the behaviour is of severity and frequency to cause significant risk to self, others or the environment
  • The service user requires an integrated specialist LD team approach to care, and other LD health professionals are involved at the same time
  • The service user’s learning disability is impacting on their ability to engage/comply with their therapy or treatment


Referrals are made to our service mainly by GPs or adult social care professionals. A new referral form is now available on our website which should still be submitted via the Trust’s Single Point of Access (SPA).


  1. Our new teams

Learning disability community team staffThe review highlighted the way our teams were set up before meant there could be potential delays in seeing people who were referred to us. This was mostly down to there being too many separate teams and too many waiting lists.

Our new community service has reduced the number of teams to reduce the number of “hand offs” or transfers between different teams with the aim of improving access for people and reducing waiting times.

Our new teams are detailed below:

Assessment and Referral Team

This team will manage referrals and make decisions on whether they meet the new criteria and which professions would need to be involved.

Community Learning Disability Teams: East North East and West/South team

These teams will now incorporate the full provision of interventions for community learning disabilities including therapies at the Ventures service and specialist knowledge for those with complex multiple impairments.

Health Facilitation Team

This team will work with other services across the city, supporting them to make reasonable adjustments to see people with a learning disability. Their priority in the first two years will be to work with GP practices and community mental health teams. The team will also incorporate the day service nurses providing the transition of care from nurses to day service teams.

More help out of hours

The review has also created a new role in our inpatient services to support other mental health services out of hours across the Trust. This new role would  support people with a learning disability that might need help out of normal opening hours, particularly working with our crisis and liaison psychiatry teams.


Other changes

The team structure no longer includes the Complex Multiple Impairment or Ventures teams and the range of therapies provided by these services will now be incorporated into the Community Learning Disability Teams. The majority of people with learning disabilities who currently receive these therapies will continue to do so.

A small minority of current service users may be transferred to other services in line with the new criteria. This is so we can provide faster access for those who do meet our criteria. Our new team set up will also mean that we are supporting the national policy of enabling more people with a learning disability to access mainstream services, supported by the Health Facilitation Team.


Get in touch

If you are a service user, carer and or family member with concerns or questions about our community learning disability services, please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service on:

Freephone 0800 052 5790


If you are a partner agency or other health provider and have any operational questions about the new service, please contact