Learning Disabilities & Autism 2020 Manchester Conference & Exhibition

  • Thursday, 12 March 2020
  • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • 08:30 - 16:30
Expert Speakers
Sponsors & Supporters
  • Overview

In more recent times the learning disability and autism sector has deservedly been the focus of greater attention. With approximately 1.5 million people in the UK with a learning disability and 1% of the population with an autism spectrum condition it is a continuing process to make things better for those that are living with or affected by learning disability and/or autism.

Open Forum Events has and enviable reputation for hosting highly informative, practical and thought-provoking meetings, bringing together key stakeholders to discuss, debate and help formulate future policy and action.

The Learning Disabilities and Autism: Improving Care Conference & Exhibition will be no exception in continuing to drive the agenda to improve lives.

There has been some significant activity and new developments in recent months and this conference, with the insightful contributions from the expert speakers, will provide delegates with updates on:

  • How the NHS investment of £5 million will improve the care for people with a learning disability and the action plan to reduce unavoidable and premature deaths based on the data from the Learning Disability Mortality Review.
  • Two reports highlighting the concerns for people that have been hospitalised in mental health facilities, often on a long-term basis many miles from home, and the treatment and care practices they are subject to including segregation and restraint.
  • The positive steps being taken to improve outcomes including training for professional staff, recognising and reducing discrimination, alleviating isolation, curbing overzealous medicating and showcasing inspirational influence.

As we enter 2020 join us at the Learning Disabilities and Autism: Improving Care Conference & Exhibition with the hope that by the end of the decade, if not sooner, inequalities will be a thing of the past for people with learning disability and/or autism.

In May 2019, NHS England announced an extra £5 million of funding specifically to care for people with a learning disability. The prime concerns include the scale of premature deaths of people with learning disabilities and/or autism, based on the latest data that has revealed that individuals are dying 25 years earlier than the general population. The NHS is committed to carrying out reviews improve care and take action nationally to tackle serious conditions.
To further enhance care and treatment, the Department of Health and Social Care has undergone a consultation focusing on specialist training for health and care professionals to better understand the needs of people and make the necessary adjustments to support them.

A report by the Children’s Commissioner has revealed harrowing evidence of children, particularly those who are autistic or have a learning disability, being unnecessarily admitted to secure hospitals, some spending prolonged periods in these institutions, often a long way from home, family and friends. Some of the practices these children are subjected to are significantly disturbing with the report describing the use of restraint and seclusion. The Commissioner described these children as "some of the most vulnerable children of all, with very complex needs, growing up in institutions usually far away from their family home. For many of them this is a frightening and overwhelming experience. For many of their families it is a nightmare."
In another hospital report, undertaken by the CQC, it warns that patients with learning disabilities and autism are being let down by a ‘broken’. Prolonged segregation, wards unsuitable for autistic patients and a lack of training of staff were just some of the issues highlighted.

Within the community there are also situations that need to be overcome which include discrimination, prejudice and hate crime. The charity United Response has launched a campaign ‘Am I Your Problem’ to challenge the general public to consider the harm they may be inflicting on people with learning disabilities and autism through their actions and behaviour.
Prejudicial attitudes can also be a factor in social withdrawal, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation. One scheme to try and combat this is fronted by Ambitions about Autism. Young people form the charity have launched a new resource to help other young autistic people to access youth groups and after school activities.

Other positive action to improve people’s situations is the continuing STOMP programme dedicated to reducing the use of psychotic medication to treat challenging behaviour. The use of technology is also a force for good and can support people to access the care they need, remain as independent as possible and help connect to social networks.

There is plethora of pioneering work being done and significantly a great deal is being undertaken by those who have a learning disability and /or autism themselves and therefore have the best understanding of what is required to make improvements.

This Conference & Exhibition is the next installment, in a series of highly insightful events, focusing on improving care, support and life chances for all those living with or affected by learning disabilities and/or autism.


Read more
  • Confirmed Speakers

Event Sponsors and Supporters

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair’s Opening Address


Keynote Address

Speaker TBC 

"Improving the Lives of People with Learning Disabilities and Autism and Reducing Premature and Avoidable Deaths"

The NHS has announced that an additional £5 million will fund reviews to improve care for people with a learning disability and committed to renewed national action to tackle serious conditions. The latest data from the Learning Disability Mortality Review (LeDeR) programme has revealed that individuals with learning disabilities are dying 25 years earlier than the general population.


Dr Kevin Cleary, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals and lead for mental health (invited)

"Providing the Best Care, with the Appropriate Support, in the Right Place"

2 recently published reports have revealed shocking evidence of the treatment received by people in hospitals. The Children’s Commissioner review states that many vulnerable children with learning disabilities are stuck in mental health hospitals for too long in poor conditions. The CQC report, examining the segregation of children on mental health wards and that of adults with a learning disability or autism in hospitals has labelled the system ‘not fit for purpose’.

  • Dr Ashok Roy, Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Advisor, Health Education England (confirmed)
"Overcoming Workforce Challenges in Services for People with Learning Disabilities and Autism"

Learning Disability and Autism services are a rising priority because of the national all age autism strategy and the NHS Long Term Plan. Developing a workforce that is fit for purpose and supporting people through their pathway of care remains a significant challenge. Some initiatives to address this are presented


Main Sponsor


Question and Answer Session


Coffee in the Networking Area


Case Study

Speaker TBC, McIntyre (confirmed)

  • Joanne Silkstone, North Division Learning and Development Manager, United Response (confirmed)
"Tackling Discrimination, Prejudice and Hate Crime"

United Response’s Am I Your Problem? campaign challenges the hidden indifference, discrimination and sometimes outright hostility towards people with learning disabilities or autism.

  • Billy Davis, Public Affairs and Policy Manager, Hft (confirmed)
  • Sarah Weston, Innovation Manager, HfT (confirmed)
"Improving Outcomes, Enhancing Care: Assistive Technologies and the Case for a Sector Deal for the Learning Disability Sector"

Technology can enable people to have more control over the way they live their lives. Not only can technology enhance more traditional care solutions by managing risk in the home environment, it can also connect people with their wider community, with mobile devices which enable users to travel to work and leisure activities and can increase social inclusion.


Case Study


Question and Answer Session


Lunch in the Networking Area


Chair’s Afternoon Address


Case Study

Speaker TBC, Brain in Hand (confirmed)


Case Study

  • Nigget Saleem, Bury Clinical Cabinet Lead-Learning Disabilities , NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) (confirmed)

STOMP is a national project for stopping over medication of people with a learning disability, autism or both with psychotropic medicines. It involves many different organisations which are helping to stop the overuse of these medicines and support people to stay well and have a good quality of life.


Question and Answer Session


Afternoon Refreshment Break

  • Alison Worsley, Director of External Affairs , Ambitious about Autism (confirmed)
"Alleviating Loneliness and Isolation"

Research suggests that people with a learning disability are vulnerable to loneliness. Up to fifty per cent of people with a learning disability experience chronic loneliness. As many as 79 per
cent of autistic people and 70 per cent of their families feel socially isolated.


Afternoon Keynote Address

  • Ciara Lawrence, Campaigns Support Officer , Mencap (confirmed)
  • Kyle Wallace, Member of the Treat Me Well Steering Group , Mencap (confirmed)
"Celebrating the Achievements of Pioneering Work and Influence"

Recognising the commitment of individuals with learning disabilities and /or autism who are working to transform the lives of people across the UK by creating a more accessible and inclusive world.


Question and Answer Session


Chair’s Closing Remarks and Event Close

  • Register for event

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Luke Boulter
  • Be updated on the most recent developments within the learning disability and/or autism sector
  • Discover how extra funding for the NHS will improve the lives of people with learning disabilities and autism and reduce the number of premature deaths
  • Learn more about the content of two reports that have raised concerns about the care and treatment of children and adults in hospitals and question how appropriate admission to mental health wards, possibly on a long-term basis, is for individuals and their families.
  • Hear about the commitment by government to provide specialist training for health and care professionals
  • Gain greater insight into discrimination, prejudice and the prevalence of hate crime experienced by people with learning disabilities or autism and how this can be confronted and overcome
  • With a call for a ‘new sector deal’ for learning disability technology, as part of the industrial strategy, discover how assistive technology can transform the care, treatment and independence of individuals.
  • Be informed as to the progress with the STOMP campaign to reduce the use of pharmacological products to deal with challenging behaviour.
  • Explore the findings of research that reveals the extent that people with learning disabilities and/or autism are victims of loneliness and isolation
  • Share in the success of outstanding individuals who are working to make a difference
  • Benefit from the opportunity to question, discuss and debate with speakers and fellow professionals
  • Take advantage of knowledge sharing and professional networking

Gain the maximum number of 6 CPD points.

  • Contact Details
  • Sponsors
  • Supporters
  • Venue
  • Featured Events
  • Downloads
  • Who will attend

Contact Details




The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Construction of The Bridgewater Hall commenced on 22 March 1993, but the idea of a new concert hall for Manchester dates back to the reconstruction of the Free Trade Hall in the 1950s after wartime bomb damage. The Free Trade Hall was home to the city’s famous Hallé orchestra and also hosted rock and pop concerts. However, despite holding great public affection, the 1850s Free Trade Hall was ill-equipped to respond to the rising standards of service and acoustic excellence demanded by performers and audiences.

Featured Events

  • Living Well with Autism: Beyond the Limitations

    • 28 May 2015
    • 08:00 - 13:30
    • Manchester Conference Centre
  • Autism: The Challenges and Opportunities

    • 01 June 2016
    • 08:30 - 14:00
    • Manchester Conference Centre
  • Improving Lives: Autism and Learning Difficulties

    • 12 October 2017
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • Manchester Conference Centre
  • Improving Lives: Supporting Adults with Learning Disabilities

    • 31 January 2017
    • 08:30 - 16:15
    • Manchester Conference Centre
  • Learning Disabilities: Fulfilling Potential and Supporting Better Lives

    • 13 March 2018
    • 08:30 - 16:00
    • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Social Care Reform: Improving Care and Support for Older People

    • 01 November 2018
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Learning Disabilities and Autism: Promoting Positive Outcomes

    • 12 March 2019
    • 08:30 - 15:45
    • Manchester Conference Centre
  • The 7th Learning Disabilities and Autism: Promoting Positive Outcomes Conference

    • 24 September 2019
    • 08:30 - 15:45
    • ETC.Venues Prospero House, London

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.

who will attend

  • Carer
  • Clinical Commissioning Group member
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Councillor
  • Direct Payment Team member
  • Director / Manager of Care Homes
  • Director of Adult Mental Health Services
  • Director of Adult Safeguarding
  • Director of Adult Social Services
  • Director of Community / Domiciliary Care
  • Director of Disability Services
  • Director of Older People's Services
  • Director of Public Health
  • Director of Supported / Sheltered Housing
  • Doctor
  • DoLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards) Co-Ordinator
  • Health and Wellbeing Boards member
  • Health Visitor
  • Learning Disability / Disability Liaison Nurse
  • Neighbourhood and Community Policing Team member
  • Nurse
  • Outreach worker
  • Personalisation and Self-Directed Support Team member
  • Probation Officer
  • Safeguarding Adults Board member
  • Senior Police Personnel
  • Support Worker