Learning Disabilities & Autism Opinion

The future of forensic services

Selina Wain, Forensic Strategic Lead, Consensus

Every day, our transformative forensic services help people who have, or may be at risk of coming into, contact with the criminal justice system. Some people are stepping down from secure settings or long-term hospital placements, and others might be living in the community but need more intensive support.

It can be difficult to find suitable accommodation for people with learning disabilities who might need a forensic service.  They may have multiple complex needs other support is unable to meet, or present a risk of behaviours which others might find challenging.  With the right environment, support, and structure we enable people to lead fulfilling lives and reduce the risk of the ‘revolving door’ for people with learning disabilities being readmitted to secure settings.

Sally Nightingale, Programme Lead for Learning Disability and Autism at NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, says:

“Many of the barriers we faced have been about finding the right setting for people to be discharged to, in the right environment. Finding providers with the right skillset and the right values to be able to uphold the values that we’re looking for, for people we support.”

The Right Environment – their own front door

At Consensus we offer registered residential and supported living services, primarily in self-contained apartments.  This model enables people to have greater independence as they have their own front door and a separate living space to their peers and access to communal areas to reduce the risk of social isolation.  This model helps mitigate any compatibility concerns between people and is an ideal step down from secure services to supported living.  Communal residential settings are also available as an option for people who may need greater support around their daily living skills as responsibilities are shared.

The people living at our forensic services lead independent lives, in line with any restrictions in place, where we support them to develop daily living skills and pursue interests and goals that are meaningful to them.  This includes building new friendships, enjoying leisure and social activities in the community that are important to them and pursuing a life-long goal or hobby. We always use the least restrictive approach to supporting individuals which may include the use of assistive technology.

The Right Skillset and Values – our teams

Alongside our Support Workers delivering 24-hour care we have nurses and Positive Behaviour Support coaches supporting people, and we work in partnership with the multi-disciplinary teams to ensure the best outcomes for people, sharing any risks.  In providing this intensive support we also need to ensure the health and wellbeing of all those who work within these settings, and we have introduced innovation in our planning and delivery of care to prevent staff burn out and ensure individual needs are continually met.

The Right Solutions

Our approach means we can tailor our care and support, and the home environment to someone’s individual needs so they can lead happy lives in and as part of the local community.  Because of this we have been able to work with people who struggled to find the right solutions to their care needs.

What we, at Consensus, have proved with our forensic services is that people can not only lead fulfilling lives but more importantly that there is an opportunity to lead a ‘good life’ and thrive.



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