Two ‘tsars’ add to value

It is four years since people with learning difficulties began to register as something more than a faint blip on the government’s radar, four years in which nothing like enough has been achieved despite the energetic commitment of the Valuing People Support Team.

Put each of those famous Valuing People principles up for scrutiny – independence, inclusion, choice and rights – and they all fall away like targets in a fairground shooting gallery. Every one of them requires much more attention if people with learning difficulties are to become fully empowered citizens in our society.

Faced with a survey published two months ago, showing that basics such as education, jobs and friends are still a mere aspiration for many people with learning difficulties, the head of the Valuing People Support Team, Rob Greig, had to admit that too little had changed.

But new developments this week will help to set Valuing People back on the rails. The Learning Disability Task Force under two chairs, one with a learning difficulty, has done sterling work. However, it has not always had the profile or the impact it deserves to have and the creation of the first national “tsar” role for a person with learning difficulties will help to put the task force on the map. As a paid post it is proper recognition of the challenges ahead, unlike the voluntary role of task force co-chair that it replaces.

At the same time Greig becomes another “tsar” for learning difficulties, on a par with mental health “tsar” Louis Appleby. Appleby, while not always seeing eye to eye with mental health service users, has been very influential and it is to be hoped that Greig can be an equally big hitter in his domain. He has earmarked jobs, homes, hate crimes and citizenship for special attention, a sensible choice of priorities.

He might also have mentioned health care where people with learning difficulties continue to get a raw deal after years of lobbying. Health targets for this group have not been met, optional health checks promised to them have not been delivered and they face unequal treatment in primary health care. If the Valuing People Support Team can maintain its momentum in its new guise as part of the Care Services Improvement Partnership – and that remains to be seen – the new “tsars” may mark the beginning of a more benevolent reign over the lives of people with learning difficulties.

See Related articles HERE and HERE

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.