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A recent petition was heard at the Scottish Parliament arguing that there should be more care home provision for people with profound learning disabilities.  (see our full response

As an organisation we do not think people with learning disabilities flourish in large care homes.  Small care homes for 4 or 5 people can be indistinguishable from many ordinary houses in the community and can allow individual many more opportunities to be part of the local society.  Small care homes also offer their residents regular opportunities for social interactions which may be hard for them in other situations.  

Scot Excel, the Scottish procurement body has already taken on comments like this and is currently finalising a framework agreement to improve the quality of new care services that are purchased by local authorities to meet the needs to people with learning disabilities that they are responsible for.  

The official figures say  the numbers who stay in care homes for people with learning disabilities fell by about 20% in the 3 years up to 2014.  However almost half of this fall is due to just 5 big homes changing— 2 homes closed because of poor quality care and 3 homes changed their client groups to others such as “older people”.  

We are already know that many other people with learning disabilities end up in large homes registered for older people.   Currently there are 250 large homes registered for older people (over 20 residents) supporting up to 1,000 adults with learning disabilities.  

With many local authorities setting a maximum rate for individual Self Directed Support Budgets at the level of the local residential care home rate, we think this means that there will be more pressure on people with greater needs to move into residential care homes.  

We must plan properly for people’s needs and stop placing people on the basis of where there is a vacancy.  

 

Ivan Cohen and John Booker went up to the Scottish Parliament to interview three leading politicians to find out what difference this election will make for people with learning disabilities.  Each politician was given 2 minutes to make their case.    A short video is available on our website but here are some of the policy highlights.

Mary Scanlon MSP for the Conservatives said

  • We want more resources for people with special needs.
  • We would want more investment in Further Education to help people with learning disabilities. 
  • We need to make sure people with learning disabilities get the right help and support to get into work 
  • We support welfare reform but many people with learning disabilities will get more help as the reviews show they need more help than they got in the past.  

Stewart Hosie MP for the SNP said

  • We are committed to people with learning disabilities having active equal lives.  
  • The Scottish Government passed the Self Directed Support which helps people live full and independent lives
  • The UK Government should  stop the roll out of the Personal Independence Payment
  • We are working with the NHS, Cosla and charities to help people badly affected by welfare reform and will put as much money as we can into helping them

Jim Murphy MP for Scottish Labour said

  • We’ll ban zero hour contracts and introduce an £8 an hour minimum wage
  • We’ll also keep the Disability Employment Advisers to make it easier to get into work in the first place.    
  • We’ll make sure that Disability Hate Crime becomes a specific offence
  • We will involve people with disabilities in reviewing the Work Capability Assessment  and  clear the backlog of people waiting for Personal Independence Payment

You can get lots more information about the General Election on our website such as Easy Read manifestos and  the very popular “The People Speak” video showing what people with learning disabilities think about the General Election and who they are going to vote for.  

 

By law, if an adult is unable to make key decisions about their own life and future, a court can appoint a 'welfare guardian' to do this. Amnesty International say a good test must be like the driving test

The number of orders has risen by of 9.6% in the last year making a 58% increase in the last 4 years.

Dundee, Glasgow, Stirling, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, and West Lothian  had the highest increases in Welfare Guardianship.  

The number of people with learning disabilities under guardianship has continued to rise until it is neck and neck with dementia as the main reason for guardianship .

Cuts in budgets worry families of adults with learning disabilities and without guardianship they have no legal right to a say in the care of their loved ones.

But how do we know that guardianship is working properly?

Amnesty International have suggested a “Driving Test” model to make sure it works.  The Test must be hard enough so that some people fail.  If it was too easy, then bad drivers would be on our road.  After all, no one would want a Driving Test where the examiner just asked 3 people whether the learner could drive and took a majority vote.   Especially if some of them had a financial interest in the learner passing.  

On Thursday 7 May 2015 there is a general election across the whole of the UK. If you are over 18 and have registered to vote you can have your say and vote in the general election. One of our packed General Election workshops

 Manifestos tell you what a political party believes in and what they say they would do if they won the election.  We hope that “Easy Read” manifestos will be produced by all the main political parties to help people with a learning disability decide who to vote for.

  But so far we  have full manifestos from

the Lib Dems

 the Scottish Greens

The Conservatives

The Labour Party

The SNP is due next week and you will be able to read it when available by clicking here.

The Labour Party have also published their 5 main pledges in Easy Read form.  You can read these  and they will help you make up your mind who to vote for:

But they can still be quite long and take time to read.   So we have produced an Easy Read guide to the policies of the main parties in Scotland.  This gives the 10 main policies of each party in easy read and puts them all on a single page for each party. Read It Here.

 The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland are using these as part of their popular General Election workshops (see picture).  

  

 

While we are still waiting for the main political parties to publish their election manifestos, there is a chance to catch up on what they might do to help people with learning disabilities.   You can watch a video of spokespeople for the three big parties in Scotland by clicking here.  

So far only the Scottish Green Party has published a manifesto but we will be supplying shortened Easy Read versions soon afterwards.  Hopefully some of the parties will supply Full Easy Read versions later.  

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Please note that all our videos are hosted on You Tube.  Problems have been reported with their subtitling system that can mean rude words sometimes appear.  We apologise for this and recommend that you do not use the You Tube subtitle service.  If you do so it will be at your own risk.