Ensuring successful admission to hospital for young people with learning difficulties, autism and challenging behaviour: a continuous quality improvement and change management programme

Child Care Health Dev. 2012 Nov;38(6):789-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01335.x. Epub 2011 Oct 21.


Background: Children and young people with autism spectrum conditions frequently have adverse experiences in accessing health care.

Methods: An audit of experiences of families known to our tertiary service and hospital staff was conducted. A checklist asking about particular aspects of behaviour and communication was developed and incorporated into pre-admission planning.

Results: Awareness of the child/young person's communication needs and behaviours, plus good preplanning by all staff involved and a team member allocated to ensure that the care plan is carried through, has resulted in a vastly improved 'patient experience' from the perspective of family and staff.

Conclusion: Children and young people with autism spectrum disorder, often with co-existing learning difficulties, vary greatly in their reactions to hospital admission. Preplanning that involves the family with a dedicated informed staff member can dramatically reduce distress and improve the patient and staff experience.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Checklist
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / psychology*
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Patient Admission*
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological