HMGoG, the GHA and the Care Agency remain committed to fostering further collaboration in order to enhance the support and care provided to individuals with learning disabilities. Through our multiagency partnership we continue to work together in our aim to further develop services.
Both the GHA and Care Agency play a key role alongside colleagues in other organisations and various Government departments including the Department of Education, the Housing Department and Social Security in providing diagnosis, assessment, treatment, programmes, homes and financial support. This provides high quality support and care for individuals with learning disabilities across the lifespan, which is enhanced through this holistic approach that emphasises cooperation and coordination to key stakeholders.
As part of the GHA programme of work to deliver the Gibraltar National Mental Health strategy, the GHA have allocated resources previously used for outmoded institutional care and for small numbers of people outside of Gibraltar to strengthen the Gibraltar Young Minds team (GYM). The Gibraltar-based service previously consisted of one half-time visiting psychiatrist, one clinical psychologist and a part time nurse. This has now expanded to; two half-time local psychiatrists, a specialist visiting Child Consultant Psychiatrist; one and a half Clinical Psychologists, two Nurses and two Counsellors. The visiting specialist psychiatrist also provides remote co-consultancy. The average waiting time from referral to initial contact by the team is one week.
The Care Agency have strengthened their Learning Disability Services by creating a specialised community learning disability team that support individuals throughout their lifespan, providing continuity of care. Assessment, planning and review arrangements have been streamlined to incorporate personalised support plans that are based on therapy aims and objectives, in accordance with the philosophy of promoting quality of life and equity of rights. The Learning Disability Services are constantly engaged in a process of internal and external audit and review with regards to the current and future needs of the service and plans are being developed to overcome these challenges and improve access to services.
Several health and social care pathways are underway. One that has recently been completed is in relation to the assessment and diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The GHA have also identified resources to provide specialist Autism Spectrum Disorder assessment training for two staff members, in order to provide better support within the multidisciplinary team. With regards to delivering this and other service developments, it is worthy of note that there is up to 25% under supply of specialist therapists in the UK. The UK provide a major source of English-speaking staff who meet the required standard of practice for local registration requirements. Given these constraints, both the GHA and Care Agency are working with the Ministry of Health and Care, as well as colleagues from Education, to consider models of delivery and develop short, medium and long term plans to address these staffing challenges.
Both the GHA and Care Agency are reassuring the community and all stakeholders that the voices and experiences of individuals and families we serve are invaluable to us. Both organisations remain committed to working in partnership to deliver ongoing meaningful improvements to services.
Preparatory work in relation to the extension of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is well underway, with focused work being undertaken for well over a year. The Ministry for Equality is working closely with the Government’s Law Office and are engaging with everyone to whom the Convention will apply in an ongoing process of consultation.
This is a lengthy process both for Gibraltar and the UK, and both are in close collaboration to enable the UK to extend the Convention to Gibraltar.