The Learning Disability Taskforce’s annual report
published today calls for greater accountability for learning
difficulties services, writes Maria
The Taskforce’s third annual report also criticises
“old-fashioned” performance indicators for failing to
show a clear indication of whether councils met required
Concerns are also raised over councils’ reporting on how
much they spent on services. The report says it was hard to check
“who was spending what” on people with learning
difficulties because each area recorded information in different
ways and used varying criteria.
The report highlights the case of a man with learning
difficulties and physical disabilities who died aged 20 after his
needs were allegedly neglected.
Tom Wakefield, who had a learning difficulty, cerebral palsy and
progressive scoliosis, died after being placed in an adult
psychiatric unit where his family claim his health needs were
“not properly looked after.”
His parents made an official complaint to Gloucestershire
Council, who were responsible for their son’s care, for their
failure to plan his move from school into adult care when he
reached the age of 18.
They claim that Wakefield stayed in a residential school
“five months longer than he should have” before being
placed in an adult psychiatric unit, after which his health
declined until his death last year.
The Healthcare Commission said it was looking into the case.
The Taskforce highlights the case as an example of the gaps in
service provision for people with high support needs.
In the report, Jo Williams, chief executive of Mencap and member
of the Learning Disabilities Taskforce describes the case as
She says: “The council had not planned for [Wakefield] to
move to a good care placement when he left school. We hope that all
councils will make sure something like this does not happen
Margaret Sheather, executive director for social services at
Gloucestershire Council, accepted that transition planning for
Wakefield could have been better.
But she added: “We responded immediately, including
employing an independent consultant to help us develop and
implement a commissioning strategy, which will address the need for
appropriate care for these young people, and doing specific work on
the way we handle transitions.”