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Learning Disabilities and Autism: Promoting Positive Outcomes

  • Tuesday, 12 March 2019
  • Manchester Conference Centre
  • 08:30 - 15:45
  • Overview

Open Forum Events has developed a reputation for delivering high quality conferences focusing on the lives of people living with learning disabilities and/or autism. We are pleased to announce that we are expanding our portfolio of such meetings with the publication of our 6th event- Learning Disabilities and Autism: Promoting Positive Outcomes.

With soundbites from the government on future social care and the NHS pledging to make learning disabilities and/or autism a ‘national priority’ in their upcoming 10-year plan, this conference will be concentrating on the support and services that are essential for people to thrive. Individuals with learning disabilities and/or autism have the same basic rights to receive equity in areas such as healthcare, independent living, employment opportunities and accommodation. Removing the barriers and providing adequate provision is essential.

The conference agenda will introduce new speakers, delivering expert insight into areas of interest not previously addressed.
Attendees at this event will benefit from significant, informative content that will focus on enhancing lives and fulfilling potential.

Discussion areas will include:

  • meeting future needs
  • support provision and initiatives already in place and fulfilling a role
  • examples of best-case practice

Open Forum Events is pleased to invite delegates, old and new, to a day of knowledge sharing, discussion and networking. Ideally, the information gained will be applied and utilised in contributing to positive outcomes for people with learning disabilities and/or autism.


There are around 1.5m people in the UK who have a learning disability and around 700,000 people living with autism.
A learning disability affects the way a person learns new things; how they understand and interpret information; and how they communicate.
‘Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with
and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.’

(Source:The National Autistic Society

Both can present themselves as mild, moderate or severe, which dictates the level of intervention and support needed by each individual. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Reviewing the most recent activity, there are two significant announcements designed to improve the lives of people with learning difficulties and/or autism.
Firstly, the government has announced a “parallel programme of work” on working-age adults with care needs, which would be aligned with a new green paper on older people’s social care. Secondly, as the NHS prepares its 10-year plan, it has committed to making learning difficulties and/or autism a priority, as it strives to improve health services.
The Learning Disabilities and Autism: Promoting Positive Outcomes conference will address a number of needs that are being met by services and initiatives that are already in operation and making a difference. Eradicating health inequalities is key to ensuring that people can experience good health and wellbeing.
Promoting in work support schemes cannot only assist work retention but can remove some of the obstacles in the recruitment process. To provide themselves with secure work, some people have gone down the self-advocacy route, creating meaningful jobs for themselves, whilst helping to dictate the future services on offer.
Following the Winterbourne View scandal, keeping people out of institutions has been a priority and the closures of such places continue. Having safe and caring environments in the community, as provided by the Shared Lives programmes, can help with the progress towards independent living, provide respite for carers and develop meaningful bonds and relationships.
There may be other considerations, running in parallel, that can impact on the quality of people’s lives.
As the general population continues to get older, proportionally the number of people with learning difficulties and/or autism rises, exposing them to risk of developing dementia.
Challenging behaviour and complex histories can also create additional concern and requires sensitive handling.
Join us at The Learning Disabilities and Autism: Promoting Positive Outcomes where the conversation continues on this most important subject


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  • Confirmed Speakers

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  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair's Opening Address

  • Jane Carolan, Deputy CEO and Director of Operations , Autism Together (confirmed)

Keynote Address

  • Dr Tom Jackson, Clinical Lead & Head of Learning Disability Services - South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Director of the Yorkshire & Humber Learning Disability & Autism Operational Delivery Network, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SWYPFT) (confirmed)
"The NHS Long Term Plan for People with Learning Disabilities & Autism"

The presentation will:

Briefly describe the history of health care policy in relation to people with learning disabilities & autism as context for Transforming Care Programme and Long-Term Plan.
Identify key drivers for change in the delivery of health service for people with learning disabilities & autism.
Outline the proposals and vision of the NHS Long Term Plan for people with Learning Disabilities & Autism.

  • Diane Lightfoot, Chief Executive Officer, Business Disability Forum (confirmed)
"Going Places: supporting people with learning disabilities and autism into work and in the workforce"

This session will look at what works in supporting people with learning disabilities and autism into the workforce in a fast-moving world. It will cover the current employment landscape, the changing nature of entry level jobs and practical steps that employers can take to remove barriers at all stages of the candidate and employee journey. Diane will also share good practice case studies from Business Disability Forum’s membership and other projects.

  • Tracey Garcia, Manager of Dimensions Quality Consultants Network, Dimensions (confirmed)
  • Jordan Smith, Co-Chair , Dimensions Council and Health Equalities Lead (confirmed)
"Value of Contribution"

Colleagues with ‘Lived experience’ offer a unique valued specialised contribution to help shape the support they receive and that of others. Their own experiences offer feedback and a greater understanding of the improvements that can be made to the standard of care delivered by service providers.


Question and Answer Session


Coffee in the Networking Area

  • Lucy Belcher, Disrupting Exploitation Worker, Children's Society (confirmed)
"Recognising, reporting and responding to Child Criminal Exploitation"

Lucy works for The Children’s Society as a Project Worker on the Disrupting Exploitation programme. Lucy works with children and young people who are ‘at risk’ of criminal exploitation, aiming to intervene as early as possible to prevent exploitation. Lucy also works with partners to ensure that the ‘systems’ around young people are supporting them in the best way that they can.



Case Study

Selina Wain, Operations Manager, Consensus Support
Melanie Harmer, Behaviour Practitioner, Consensus Support

"From Long Stay Hospital To My Very Own Home"

How my vision for my life finally became a reality with the support of people who truly understood my complex needs” – Debbie, individual we support

Debbie who has learning disability and complex needs spent 23 years in a long stay hospital, quite simply because in her words “There was nowhere else for me to go…. and I just had to wait and wait and wait”
As a Support Team we discuss Debbie’s long journey towards a more fulfilling life, greater independence, improved behaviour and reduction in PRN and self harm. Through ensuring the right environment for her, a full transition and Positive Behaviour Support Plan, the recruitment of the right staff to understand her complex needs and triggers and taking an open honest approach to lessons learnt and challenges over the years, Debbie is now free to live her life in the way she had always wanted to. Seeing the positives and celebrating her achievements of finding work, new friends and interests, coupled with the emotional support she needs, Debbie tells her story in her own words - “I now experience new things every day, things I never knew even existed or which I could be a part of”.


  • Dr Sunny Kalsy-Lillico, Head of Psychology & Psychological Therapies, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (confirmed)
"Supporting People with a Learning Disability and Dementia"

People with learning disabilities are five times more likely than those in the general population to develop dementia. There is a demand for the needs of people with learning disabilities and dementia to be better addressed to improve quality of life for the individual and their family/carers


Case Study

  • Laura Selby, Head of Operations, MacIntyre (confirmed)
  • Chris Larsen, Frontline Manager , MacIntyre Charity (confirmed)
"Starting a Journey Together"

An honest look at the journey of two people, the staff member starting his career in the sector and a person moving from a long stay hospital into his new home.


Question and Answer Session


Lunch in the Networking Area


Chair’s Afternoon Address

"A Family's Journey"

Having a child with learning disabilities has an impact not only on the child but on the entire family. This is likely to lead to a journey of challenges, from diagnosis and education to socialisation and health. I am the parent of an 18 yr old dyslexic, dyspraxic and proprioception disordered son. I will be talking about what it has been like as the parent of a child with learning disabilities; the frustration and joy, the obstacles and the triumphs.

  • Judith Knapton, Patient Experience Lead (MH & LD), NHS England (confirmed)
  • Suzie Fothergill, Chairperson, National Association of Quality Checkers (confirmed)
"NHS Quality Checkers"

A presentation to:

  • provide an overview of the NHS Quality Checkers programme
  • to provide feedback on the test sites
  • to hear from a Quality Checker and what it means to her
"Recovery in the Community – ‘why should I bother?"

Waymarks recognises that the people with learning disabilities who have gone on to offend have not had many/if any positive relational experiences with others, and also recognising that this is one of the best ways to learn and motivate people to live fulfilling and safe lives.


  • Rachel Turner, Shared Lives Ambassador, Shared Lives Plus (confirmed)
"Shared Lives "

Shared Lives is a scheme that finds suitable host families for adults who would otherwise face a very different future. The initiative gives adults with learning difficulties and/or autism the opportunity to live as part of the family and community of an adult care provider.



Question and Answer Session


Chair’s Closing Remarks and Event Close

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Manchester Conference Centre

Manchester Conference Centre

Manchester Conference Centre is the ideal solution when searching for conference venues in Manchester. Top-of-the-range conference suites, 3 star value hotel accommodation, delicious dining and friendly service are the ideal components for a successful conference or event in the heart of the city centre.

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Downloads & Resources

  • Open Forum Events Sponsorship Brochure
    Open Forum Events offer a number of partnership, sponsorship and exhibition opportunities that can meet your marketing and business development needs.
  • Presentations Learning Disabilities & Autism 12.3.2019 (2).zip
    Presentations Learning Disabilities & Autism 12.3.2019 (2).zip