Sixty Second Interview with David Congdon
A mother was recently handed a suspended jail sentence for killing her son who had Down’s Syndrome after caring for him for 36 years. The judge suggested that a lack of support had helped to push Wendolyn Markcrow to the end of her tether while Buckinghamshire Council says that it did what it could for her.
Amy Taylor talks to David Congdon, head of campaigns and policy at Mencap, about the issues raised by the case.
Are there many families caring for people with a learning difficulty in their homes who are struggling?
When we published our report Breaking Point, 8 out of 10 parents said they were at breaking point
Do many carers receive services before they get to crisis point?
Some do get a service before they are at crisis point but most do not. Six out of 10 got no break or a minimal break. If you take all parents of adults with a learning difficulty, only 1 in 5 get a break according to government figures.
What needs to be done to improve their situations by local and central government?
Government and local authorities need to stop taking parents/carers for granted. They should ensure all get a Carer’s Assessment. We believe that for those on higher rate Disability Living Allowance, their carers should get a minimum of 52 nights breaks (or equivalent per year).
A recent Association of Directors of Social Services report looking at pressures on learning disability services found that learning difficulty services could cost local authorities an extra £800 million a year within the next five years if the government does not increase funding. It states that councils’ ability to develop better services for the group will be “severely threatened” unless funds are found. Does this make you concerned for the future?
The £800 million extra needed per year is to deal with growth in numbers. It does not include money to deal with current unmet demand for say short breaks or the 29,000 living with older carers who need a home of their own. Social care is suffering from major under-funding.