In an ideal world, services’ starting point would be people’s wants and needs.
Services would enable people with learning disabilities to lead ordinary lives in their communities. People with learning disabilities would be supported to make real choices about where and how they live, where they work and how they get around.
People with learning disabilities would be able to access healthcare, education and the criminal justice system in the same way as anyone else, rather than having judgements made about their “suitability” for treatment or “competence to tell the truth”. We wouldn’t then be in the farcical situation we are in today where education authorities won’t do assessments of special educational need in case they then have to provide the recommended support.
Residential and day care services would not be predicated on which staff are on duty but on who needs to be around to support people to live their lives in a meaningful way. There are some fantastic services that start from the point of the person first and work out the services from there.
Family members and carers must also feel that they are being listened to and, where their views differ from the person with a learning disability, there must be sensitivity to understanding everyone’s point of view.
For me, excellence is displayed when a person with a learning disability has had the opportunity to take control of their life and has all the support systems in place to be able to do it – free from abuse and fear. They lead ordinary lives and participate in all aspects of their community.
The vision must be that people with learning disabilities are seen as one of us, not as one of them.
Kathryn Stone is chief executive of Voice UK, which supports people with learning disabilities who have been abused. She will judge entries submitted from teams working with people with learning disabilities
MEET THE OTHER JUDGES
● Andrew McCulloch is chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, which incorporates the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, and will judge entries submitted from teams working with people with mental health issues.
● Sue Bott, who is disabled, is strategic director of the National Centre for Independent Living and will judge entries submitted from teams working with people with disability.