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The Mental Welfare Commission has just carried out a survey about what life was like for people with learning disabilities who need intensive support in the community. They found a lot of good things about it but there were a number of things that had to change because they were not good. You read the full report here. But down below we highlight the things that need to change.
They thought that some people needed better care and support, to help them live happy and independent lives, and make friends. All care and support staff should be well trained and managed. We found that some were not.
Services have to be the best they can be. Local authorities must keep looking at the care and support they give and make sure the service user’s rights are being protected.
Some people weren’t happy living together. It should be possible to move them to new homes with people they like, or let them have time away from the people they don’t get on well with.
A small number of support plans were out of date or did not meet all the needs of the service users. Some plans were quite good but more could be done to make them even better.
Service providers should help people to make friends. Some service providers were doing a good job of this, but most service users still said they didn’t have friends. Families should be involved more because they are very important in helping people to have social lives.
The Mental Welfare Commission has found that the number of individuals with learning disability subject to compulsion continues to increase. There has been a 4% rise since the last census in 2010. Since 2006, there has been an overall 30% increase.
This increase was evident in eight out of eleven NHS Board areas. The greatest increases were in Lanarkshire, Fife and Greater Glasgow and Clyde. There is a very wide variation in rates of compulsion between NHS Boards ranging from 2.9 to 13.4 per 100k which is only partly explained by the location of facilities for people with learning disabilities
Individuals with learning disability are likely to be subject to compulsion for longer than those without learning disability. This was particularly evident for men. They are also more likely to be detained in hospital rather than receiving community treatment. There is some evidence that guardianship is used as an alternative to community based compulsory treatment orders.
On Tuesday 26th November the Scottish Government published its White Paper on Scottish Independence called Scotland's Future - A Guide.
It looks at lots of issues across Scotland and many of these issues will benefit people with disabilities and their families even though they are not menitioned directly. For example many families with disabled children will benefit from the extra childcare on offer as both parents will be able to go out to work and the families will be better off.
The main policy statements that affect people with disabilities directly are
An end to the welfare reform changes. The paper suggests that by 2016, the government's move of people to Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment will not have got very far and so it will be stopped. People will stay on existing benefits such as DLA until a new reformed welfare system is introduced. Presumably people who have been transferred to PIP will stay on that as well although the white paper is not clear on this.
The system of medical review of people with disabilities will be urgently reviewed.
There will be a continuing role for voluntary organisations in the development of civic Scotland.
Scotland is entering a year of debate and discussion over the future of its position within the United Kingdom. On September the 18th 2014, there will be a referendum on whether Scotland should be independent. In the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland, we want to make sure that people with learning disabilities have as much of a say in Scotland's referendum as other citizens.
We are currently running workshops for people with learning disabilities to look at the issues arising from the Independence Referendum. These are available to any parts of our member organisations. Please get in touch if you would like to book one of these for your group or organisation.
Victory For Independent Living Rights In English Appeal Court
Statement by Anne Pridmore, Gabriel Pepper and Stuart Bracking
As three of the Independent Living Fund users who have challenged the legality of the government’s decision to close the Fund, we welcome the Appeal Court’s unanimous ruling that this decision should be quashed.
Given the Government has decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court, the new Disabled People’s Minister Mike Penning will now have to reconsider the Government's approach to the future of the Independent Living Fund and its users.
Rather than being the ‘privileged group’ referred to in the High Court judgement, the Appeal Court has acknowledged the potentially very grave impact the closure of the Fund would have on its users, putting seriously in peril the ability of a large number of people to live independent lives in their own homes, and pursue activities such as employment and education.
They concluded that when Disabled People’s Minister Esther McVey made her decision in 2012 to finally close the Fund by April 2015, she did not properly consider the need to advance our equality of opportunity, minimise the disadvantage we face, encourage independent living, and promote our participation in public life and other social activities.