Ask Listen Do: Putting our commitment into action

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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist

Ask, Listen, Do aims to improve the experiences of people with a learning disability, autism or both (and their families and carers) when giving feedback, raising a concern or making a complaint about health care, social care or education provision/providers.

Led by NHS England, the project focuses on improving how organisations can work to achieve this across four key areas:

  • leadership 
  • culture change and empowerment
  • training
  • legal frameworks.

This is an important area of work and we were pleased to sign up as one of the Ask Listen Do strategic partners in July 2018. Since then we’ve been developing areas of work to help us deliver on our commitment. To mark Learning Disability Week, this blog provides an update on our progress so far.


In October 2018 the Ombudsman attended an event with other strategic partners to pledge our commitment to the Ask Listen Do call to action. We discussed what organisations could be doing to improve the experiences of people with a learning disability, autism or both when using our services.  

As strategic partners we are committed to leading by example by proactively implementing the call to action. This includes sharing information about the campaign with staff, and sharing information more broadly on our website and social media channels.

From January 2019 we incorporated the Ask Listen Do commitments into our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. Our Diversity Working Group holds ongoing responsibility for the delivery of these commitments and will review progress on a regular basis.

Culture change and empowerment

To bring about culture change and empowerment, we are focusing on the impact our service has on people, not just on systems and processes.  A key objective running throughout our 2018-21 strategy is to communicate appropriately with everyone who uses our service. 

As part of our Equality Diversity and Inclusion Strategy we have improved the way we consider, monitor and record reasonable adjustments. This should help make sure we put these adjustments in place. It should also help us to measure how well we are making adjustments for anyone with a learning disability and identify where we need to make improvements. 

We are also making changes to the questions in our complainant survey, along with the demographic markers such as learning disability. This will allow us to measure quality within our service against our standards. These questions include particular reference to:

  • our communication methods and ensuring we take a person-centred approach
  • making reasonable adjustments appropriately
  • making sure complainants understand our process and what information we can consider
  • making sure our decisions are easy to understand.


We are currently developing several training programmes for our staff on learning disabilities and human rights.  

We’re kicking this off during Learning Disability Awareness Week, when Manchester People First (a self-advocacy group run by and for adults with a learning disability) will join us for a lunch and learn session. 

They’ll be talking to us about the practicalities of living with a learning disability and the issues individuals can encounter. They will also provide guidance how to support people with learning disabilities to make a complaint.

We will share more information about further training and its impact later in the year.

Legal frameworks

Another aspect of our work to support people with a learning disability, autism or both (and their families and carers) when making a complaint deals with the legal aspect. This covers any changes that could be made to legislation, regulation or non-statutory guidance to ensure that we fulfill the Ask Listen Do principles.

As part of our strategic commitment to improve frontline complaint handling we have set up a working group with members of the Health and Social Care Regulators Forum to develop a Complaint Standards Framework for the NHS. This work has just begun and the group will actively consider how best to embed the Ask Listen Do principles into the framework.

We continue to work with the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, in calling for a Bill to create a single Public Service Ombudsman. This will enable everyone to access justice more easily, and enable the new organisation to more effectively provide redress in a landscape of increasingly integrated public services.   

As part of this we are also calling for the Public Services Ombudsman to have the power of own initiative. This will enable the Ombudsman to speak up on behalf of people who may be unable or unwilling to complain.

For more information on Ask Listen Do visit the NHS England website.