People with learning difficulties lack choice and support

People with learning difficulties still lack choice and support
to help them live independently – although improvements have been
made, according to inspectors, writes Craig

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Platt: common problems

The Commission for Social Care and Inspection looked at learning
difficulties services in 12 local authorities and found that they
varied widely.

Despite improvements in advocacy, information services and
assessment and care management, more needs to be done to promote
independence and choice, says the report.

“All around the country there are some common problems
– a lack of choice in services, lack of specialist staff and
still not enough forward planning and co-ordination between
agencies,” says CSCI chair Denise Platt.

“Not enough people with learning difficulties are helping
to shape services and receiving services which support them to be

Most councils now have advocacy services but they are overworked
and under-funded, and do not meet the needs of ethnic minorities,
people with high support needs, children becoming adults and those
in remote areas, says the report.

All the councils were introducing person-centred planning, but
care plans often tended to fit what services could provide, it
says. Also many reviews were overdue and few people received direct

Too few councils gave jobs to people with learning difficulties,
while specialist employment projects tended to suffer from
short-term funding, says the CSCI.

Transport was an issue for many service users, and some councils
help by providing taxis, cars and lessons in using public

Partnerships on the whole were better with health and housing
than with education and leisure.

Councils inspected were Bury, Calderdale, Durham, East Riding,
Lancashire, Merton, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire,
Northumberland, Somerset, Thurrock and Walsall.

• Valuing People – Much Achieved, More to Do (CSCI,

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