Mencap says it is “cautiously optimistic” about progress on the government’s “ambitious” delivery plan for Valuing People Now, although several of the Department of Health’s initial measures have been delayed.
The delivery plan, published alongside the new three-year strategy for people with learning disabilities in January, made several key commitments, including the appointment, by April 2009, of a team of specialists in the DH to lead on learning disability issues.
Although leads for people with complex needs and health are in place, appointments to lead roles on advocacy, employment and housing are not expected until the end of September.
Also, guidance on person-centred planning for service users was due to be published in the spring but will now be released in the autumn.
Anne Williams, the DH’s national director for learning disabilities, said the guidance was being updated to “make sure it is relevant for everyone working on person-centred care planning and individual budgets” and reflects the Valuing Employment Now strategy launched in June.
Although some measures have been delayed, the DH published guidance on health action planning, with an easy-read version and DVD, in March, against a spring deadline. Williams said the resource pack was on its third print run and engagement from the NHS had been excellent.
Employment gap closing
David Congdon, Mencap’s head of campaigns and policy, said the Valuing People Now delivery plan was much stronger than that for the original Valuing People strategy in 2001.
The government had made significant progress, he said, particularly with the publication in June of Valuing Employment Now, which aims to close the gap between the employment rate of learning disabled people and that of the disabled population as whole.
“Generally, I think they [the government] have managed to get the show on the road, but the real challenge is to deliver change at a local level,” Congdon said.