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Tuesday 24 September 2013


Session 4

New Learning Disabilities Strategy

The Presiding Officer (Tricia Marwick): The next item of business is a debate on motion S4M-07787, in the name of Michael Matheson, on the new learning disabilities strategy, “The keys to life”.

I point out to members that we have a fair bit of time in hand, so the Presiding Officers will be generous.


The Minister for Public Health (Michael Matheson): The new learning disabilities strategy, “The keys to life: Improving quality of life for people with learning disabilities”, was published in June of this year. It is the second national learning disabilities strategy for Scotland, and we are the first part of the United Kingdom to produce a second strategy of that nature.

The Scottish Government’s new strategy the Keys To Life was debate in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 24th September.  This was a long debate from 2.30  to 5.00.  This meant that lots of MSPs got to speak and each got time to develop their points. 

Summary:  The Scottish Government was proud of its new strategy and felt that it would be an opportunity to improve things for people with learning disabilities.  They knew there is still a lot of work to be done but it is a plan to build on the progress that has been achieved so far. 

No one who spoke was opposed to the new strategy.  Some concerns were raised – would local authorities be able to deliver, what about the charges that people had to pay, what about the cuts in college places, concern about the disproportionate effect that the cuts had on people with learning disabilities, the failure to deliver personal plans to everyone and even the lack of use of modern apprenticeships to support people into work. 

Many of the MSPs spoke from a personal experience of people with learning disabilities and their families, others had worked with people with learning disabilities in a professional capacity before becoming an MSP and others knew people in their communities.  This shows a real connection between our politicians and people with learning disabilities.  There may be some differences in how to take things forward but we can say there is no “indifference” amongst this group of MSPs. 

Many of the issues that the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland have been concerned  about were raised and a number of MSPs were able to use our briefing in the debate.   

You can read on to have the summary of  what some of the main speakers said. Or you can click here to read the full report on our website.  You can listen to that live or download it in audio to play in your car or on your MP3 player by clicking here

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You can also read the articles online by clicking the following links

Disabled pay more than the super rich

A future for the Independent Living Fund in Scotland

The Rise and Rise of Guardianship

Bring them home!

Each of these articles can be read aloud on the internet or you can download the audio version by clicking here and play in later on your computer or mobile phone.  We can send you a CD by post if you email us to let us know  Regular CD subscribers will get their's in the post shortly.  

Angela Bachiller is  the first person with Downs Syndrome to be elected as a local councillor or Partido Popular in Valladolid, Spain.She was sworn into office on Monday 29th July 2013.

The First Downs Syndrome Councillor in Spain

 The following is an interview with Angela, shortly after her election 

Angela, do you feel proud to have entered the lists of a party?

Yes I liked it during the campaign and I had a fine time. I am thrilled that they have elected me. The mayor said it was an example of effort and improvement ... I was shocked when they told me I was elected as part of the lists. 

Do you like politics?


So ... why did you decide to take this step?

To help people realize that people with disabilities can with everything, we have a lot of willpower.

Mark Neary is a blogger and father to Steven, who has autism and other learning difficulties.  He has written a fascinating guest blog on the BBC website about the use of jargon in social care.  Read  the full article here

Here are 10 jargon phrases I jotted down on the back of a beer mat, the kind of things which make Steven's life sound even less "normal":

1. I live in my home. Steven's current placement is in the family home.

2. When I make a pizza, I'm making a pizza. When Steven makes a pizza, he's increasing his independence skills (as overseen by an occupational therapist).

3. If I cry, I'm sad about something. If Steven cries, it is logged and analysed by the psychologist and positive behaviour team.