Staff Choice Awards 2018/19
Innovation Award

Green Light Champions – Learning Disabilities/Autism

Is the winner of this award

The nomination said...

People with a learning disability (LD) and/or autism face health inequalities in mainstream mental health services. The Green Light Toolkit from the National Development Team for Inclusion is an audit tool, designed to improve mental health services and ensure the needs of people with LD and/or autism are met. The challenge to change the culture across two counties was embraced in October 2015 when this innovative initiative commenced to ensure equitable services. NSFT have improved on all 27 standards year-on-year.

Green Light Champions have a particular interest or expertise in autism or LD, promoting best practice around the care and treatment of people. They include staff, service users, carers and partner organisations. They carry out this role voluntarily undertaking some phenomenal work to improve people’s experience of services, working together in a pioneering, innovative way to drive quality improvements.

This is an important role in supporting the Trust to ensure reasonable adjustments are in place to meet service users’ needs. For example, a successful reasonable adjustment was put in place for a service user who kept bouncing between the GP and the assessment team but never attended appointments. The team went to his house to find out why he kept missing appointments. He said he couldn’t read so would scoop up all post and put it in the bin. They introduced EasyRead appointment letters, sent in a blue envelope so that when one landed on his doormat, he knew to open it. He is now fully engaged in services.

Green Light Champions are responsible for various innovative ideas. Examples include improving ward signage for everyone to be able to understand, developing communication cards for service users to be able to articulate their needs, and developing local EasyRead information such as feeling diaries and a range of leaflets. Their positivity, passion and commitment make a difference within local teams and to service users. Their reputation of positive innovations is growing, both locally and regionally. The Champions also now have national recognition. Their work has been commended in the NHS Improvement LD improvement standards, thus raising the profile of NSFT in national good practice guidance.

A Green Light Champions Network was developed to share good practices and new ideas, and meets bi-monthly.

Some champions have led on my Health+ group which teaches people to look after their own physical health and wellbeing. These innovations are all developed in co-production with numerous service user champions who work voluntarily to make improvements to local service delivery. All undertaken without a budget, showing that creativity and positive engagement can truly make a difference.

In 2018 Green Light has received numerous national accolades and awards:

  • The Professional Lead who facilitates the Green Light won Learning Disability Nurse of the Year at the National Autism and LD Awards in June.
  • The Green Light Champions were finalists in the Employer category of the National Autism and LD Awards in June
  • NHS Improvement nominated the Green Light initiative for the LD Nursing category of the Nursing Times Awards
  • The Nursing Times nominated Green Light for the Workforce Awards for making reasonable adjustments to recruit the first person with a learning disability in the Trust
  • NSFT was selected by the National Development Team for Inclusion as one of five NHS trusts to be included in a report about the successful implementation of the Green Light Toolkit
  • NSFT were commended by NHS Improvement (NHSI) as one of four national NHS trusts for improvements made to services. As a result, the Green Light Champions were selected to develop a national “grab guide”, highlighting top tips about supporting people with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and / or LD in a mental health setting. This led to being identified as good practice model in the NHSI LD improvement standards

At the heart of Green Light is co-production and partnership working. There are now 242 Green Light Champions, volunteering to make sure that NSFT services meet the needs of all. Green Light has been successful, not just for people with LD and autism, but for people with any cognitive impairment, such as service users with enduring mental health issues, poor literacy skills and people with dementia.

Undertaking the Green Light Toolkit ensures compliance with the Equality Act (2010), Autism Act (2009) Health and Social Care Act (2012) and NHS England Accessible Information Standards (2015).