Local authority services for people with learning difficulties must change, Margaret Goldie, the Association of Directors of Social Services’s lead on learning difficulties said at Community Care Live Adult Care Services today.
Councils tend to stick with existing provision rather than innovating to meet the needs of service users, added Goldie, citing ADSS research from 2005 which showed most spending on people with learning difficulties is on residential and day care.
In the same session parent Caroline Tomlinson powerfully explained how an individual budget has transformed the life of her son Joseph, who has a learning difficulty. He now has friends, attends college, travels abroad with his family and can sleep at night, none of which he could do before. Joseph’s self-harming has also greatly reduced, his mother told delegates.
The Tomlinson family took part in an In control pilot in Wigan. Previously services provided did not support Joseph or his family, said Tomlinson.
Over one six month period under the old regime, 46 different people came into the family home to support Joseph, which is not good for service users or staff, she added.
Fellow panellist Nicola Smith, who has a learning difficulty and sits on the national forum, said people with learning difficulties want the same things as everyone else, such as the chance to study, a home and good health care.
Rob Greig, national director of Valuing People, said helping people with learning difficulties get power back over their lives is the most important role for service providers. He said Valuing People is working and life is improving for many people with learning difficulties.