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Learning Disabilities & Autism 2020 Manchester

  • Thursday, 12 March 2020
  • King’s House Conference Centre, 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 who are living with or affected by learning disability and/or autism.

Open Forum Events has an 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 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.
  • 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 to which they are subject, 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  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 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.


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  • Confirmed Speakers

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair’s Opening Address


Keynote Address

  • Christine-Koulla Burke, Director , Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities (confirmed)
  • Patricia Charlesworth, Person with a Learning Disability, Member of SFC and HEE Experts by Experience Advisory Group, and Co-Chair , Foundation for People with Learning Disabilties (confirmed)
"Prevention- What Works?"

 Prevention and early intervention in developing positive support that helps people to have a good life.

  • Gill Greaves, Former CEO Streetbikes Charity; Former Director of C.O.R.R.A.A.L; Main Carer for Autistic sister with Learning Disabilities, . (confirmed)
"I am a Human Being! "

Susan who is 67 years old has just had a major knee operation. The whole system of aftercare failed her from, ward staff, district nurses, GP’s, Physios and even the crisis team ORCAT. She and her sister where left alone to cope with the situation at home. 


  • 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

  • Dr Kevin Cleary, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals and Lead for Mental Health, Care Quality Commission (CQC) (confirmed)
"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’.


Question and Answer Session


Coffee in the Networking Area


Case Study

"No Limits"

Families of children and young people who are admitted to hospitals far away from their homes and for long periods of time often say ‘it all started in education’
Natalie will talk about MacIntyre’s inclusive, solution focussed education model and the positive impact it has had on young people’s lives.

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

Jo will be co presenting with a person with a learning disability who will share their experiences. 

United Response’s ‘Am I Your Problem?’ campaign challenges the hidden indifference, discrimination and sometimes outright hostility towards people with learning disabilities or autism. The charity asked more than 150 people it supported about their experiences within different social settings. The widespread hostility and prejudice they face is often not acknowledged, recognised or reported as a hate crime.


  • Emma Nichols, Personalised Technology Manager, Hft (confirmed)
"Hft’s Sector Pulse Check: How are social care providers currently using technology, and what is stopping them from doing more?"

Every year, Hft polls providers in the social care sector to produce its Sector Pulse Check report, which provides an annual snapshot of the financial health of the social care sector, shows how providers have reacted to the past year, and how they believe they will fare over the next 12 months.

A key theme of Hft’s 2019/20 Sector Pulse Check report was the use of Assistive Technologies.

In this presentation, we will discuss the results of the survey. We will highlight how the sector is currently using assistive technologies, what the current barriers are to increased usage, and the positive benefits that assistive technologies can bring in terms of more meaningful support for those who need it.


Case Study

  • Dawn Berry, Chief Executive Officer, Eden Futures (confirmed)
"The Expert by Experience (EBE) Programme "

Dawn and Stefan will provide an overview of the Expert by Experience (EBE) programme the team has developed across the Eden Futures group. EBE enables interested service users to work alongside members of the quality team and visit services to speak with staff and service users about how the service meets people’s needs. This information then feeds into audits in respect of those services. Stefan is one of the founding members of the programme. He’ll give his perspective on the importance of providing service users with a voice for change and improvement. He’ll also highlight what his life was like before he came to Eden Futures and what it’s like now in contrast.



Question and Answer Session


Lunch in the Networking Area

A hot, two-course lunch consisting of multiple options will be provided for delegates. We cater for all dietary requirements, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten/dairy-free; just notify us ahead of time should you have any allergens or requirements.


Chair’s Afternoon Address


Case Study

  • Heather Cook, Chief Innovation Officer , Brain in Hand (confirmed)
"The Digital Transformation of LD and Autism Services"

Digital technology has the potential to dramatically improve user outcomes and deliver financial sustainability to support providers over the next 10 years.

Financial sustainability is one of the biggest challenges facing support services in UK health and social care sector today.

Technologies such as SBRI award winner Brain in Hand have the power to answer the sustainability question – not just by changing the delivery method of services, but most importantly by improving service user outcomes with personalised support.


  • Nigget Saleem, Bury Clinical Cabinet Lead-Learning Disabilities , NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) (confirmed)
  • Carl Shaw, Learning Disability Advisor, NHS England’s Learning Disabilities Programme (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

  • Emily Niner, Participation Manager, Ambitious about Autism (confirmed)
"Include Autism – Making Youth Groups Accessible to all Young People"

Youth groups and extra-curricular activities are a very important part of young people's lives - helping them make new friends, grow in confidence and develop new skills. Yet sadly we know many young autistic people find it hard to attend youth groups due to misunderstanding of autism and problems with accessibility. To tackle this problem, Ambitious about Autism's Youth Patrons have created Include Autism - the toolkit for developing autism inclusive youth groups.


Afternoon Keynote Address

  • Ciara Lawrence, Mencap Engagement Lead , Learning disability Charity Mencap (confirmed)
  • Kyle Wallace, Mencap Treat me Well Steering Group Member , Royal Mencap Society (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


Event Close

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

Contact Details




King’s House Conference Centre, Manchester

King’s House Conference Centre, Manchester

King’s House Conference Centre is a versatile venue perfect for a wide range of conferencing requirements.

Featured Events

  • Living Well with Autism: Beyond the Limitations

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

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

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

    • 31 January 2017
    • 08:30 - 16:15
    • Pendulum Hotel & 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
    • Pendulum Hotel & 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.
  • Final Presentations LD & A March
    Final Presentations LD & A March

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