Dear Mr Hood,
I refer to your recent email entitled “A return to institutional care for adults with learning disabilities in Glasgow?”. Your email raises two fundamental concerns regarding the current tendering process for the provision of residential accommodation for adults with learning difficulties which could cater for up to 20 individuals.
Firstly, can I emphasise that this in no way represents a reversal of the progressive, democratically established, learning disability policy of supporting individuals to live independently within the community. Specifically, there is no attempt to redirect anyone from the community into residential care.
This tender relates to a reconfiguration of a comparatively small level of provision of existing residential care to this client group; i.e. the individual service users in scope for this revised provision are, in the main, already in residential placements. The current provision is outwith the city boundary and there are significant benefits for the individuals concerned, as well as their family and friends, if they were supported within their home city.
It is also recognised that there will be future circumstances where as a result of, for instance, diminishing health and increasing needs that it is simply no longer appropriate for some individuals to be sustained in individual placements. This may be because the appropriate form of care cannot be provided in the person’s home (e.g. nursing) or that, following individual reviews which identify increasing need, the significantly increasing costs of supporting such placements does not provide best value to the council or to the individual.
The award of any contract of significant value requires Executive Committee approval; on the conclusion of this tender exercise, should an award be recommended, it will be brought to Executive Committee for a final democratic decision.
You also appear to suggest that every instance of group living/residential care is, by definition, a bad thing. Having worked as a Nursing Assistant at Ladysbridge Hospital near Banff, (the North East equivalent of Lennox Castle,) and having served on the Board of an organisation supporting adults with learning disabilities to live in the community, I have first hand knowledge and a deep personal commitment to independent living. You cite a number of examples of some of the terrible failures in institutional and group living. While I would fully support your condemnation of these failures I am also aware that there are circumstances and numerous exemplars of both the appropriateness and considerable success of group support for a small proportion of adults with learning disabilities.
The service envisioned under the current tender process does not equate to large scale institutions such as Lennox Castle nor should it be tarnished because of cases such as Winterbourne which, though thankfully rare, represent a failure of the service rather than the concept.
This council remains committed to supporting all our citizens, irrespective of age, disability or background to live as independently and freely as possible within the community. We are also committed to ensuring that, to the full extent of their capacity, people with whom SW engage have genuine choice. Neither of these commitments in any way precludes the provision of well run and properly provisioned group support in a small number of appropriate cases.
I trust you will find this clarification of the position helpful.
Cllr Malcolm Cunning