Learning Disability - low secure

A recovery-orientated low secure service for women aged over 18 with learning disabilities and/or autistic spectrum conditions.

Spencer North is a 12-bedded ward based in Northampton. The service forms part of our female Learning Disability pathway, and can accept direct referrals or transitions for patients stepping down from our medium secure service, Sitwell. 

The philosophy of care is based on recognition that an individual has strengths as well as needs, and a right to support, treatment and care from multi-disciplinary teams able to assist recovery.

Admissions criteria

We provide care for women aged 18-65 who on admission:

  • have a diagnosis of learning disabilities and/or autistic spectrum conditions


  • pose a significant risk of harming themselves or others


  • require care within a low secure environment.

These criteria are a guide for assessing suitability; each patient will be considered individually

Our care principles

Our Learning Disability pathway uses a treatment therapy ethos based on Positive Behavioural Support. We use RAID (Reinforce Appropriate (behaviour) Ignore Difficult or Disruptive (behaviour)) principles to develop, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of a personalised and enduring system of support that enhances quality of life outcomes for the patient.   

Care plans are holistic in nature, with physical health and wellbeing needs given equal care and attention as mental health needs, social, communication and sensory needs.

Our use of psycho-education therapies is key to helping people understand their disorder, their strengths and needs.

The overall aim of psycho-social treatment model is to:

  • deliver person-centred care
  • reduce the risk of harm to self or others
  • improve psychological wellbeing and increase pro-social behaviours
  • promote the recovery and social inclusion of women with complex mental health, neuro-developmental and forensic care needs.
The treatment model

Comprehensive assessments are predominantly conducted at our dedicated Neurodevelopmental Disorder Assessment Clinic where we provide specialist assessment, diagnostic, formulation and care planning services.

Patient treatment needs are then identified and form the basis of the subsequent individualised care and treatment programme.

A range of pathway specific treatments and services are provided through a comprehensive MDT, enabling the delivery of a tailored, holistic care programme:

  • Psychology; including Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Sensory Integration and Total Communication Approaches
  • Social work; child visits, home visits, safeguarding and staying safe
  • Occupational therapy; cooking, horticulture, self-care and domestic activities
  • Speech and Language therapy
  • Vocational opportunities at Workbridge.    

The least restrictive environment

We aim to care for patients in the most suitable and least restrictive environment to address their clinical needs and risks.

Patient transitions/next steps are considered at admission and our clinical and social work teams work with appropriate case managers and home area teams to facilitate the next phase of a patients care


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