Learning Disability Coalition: Numbers needing care set to rocket

The number of people with learning disabilities needing adult social care will rocket over the next 20 years, research for the Learning Disability Coalition published today has shown.

The study, by Lancaster University’s centre for disability research, found that numbers will grow by between 3.2% and 5.5% on average from 2009 to 2026.

Eric Emerson and Chris Hatton, who carried out the research, had previously estimated that numbers would grow by 1.1% a year on average from 2001-11, in research for the Department of Health.

Immediate funding needed

Mark Goldring, chief executive of coalition member Mencap, warned: “Without a substantial and immediate injection of funding the social care crisis will hit people with learning disabilities harder than we originally thought.”

Emerson and Hatton said the change was driven by three factors:-

  • Decreasing mortality among people with learning disabilities, especially in older age ranges and among children with severe and complex needs.
  • The impact of changes in fertility over the past two decades in the general population.
  • The ageing of the baby boomers, among whom there appears to be an increased incidence of learning disabilities.

Reduction in availability of family carers

They said this would be exacerbated by a reduction in the availability of family carers – mainly women – due to rising maternal employment, increasing numbers of lone parent families and changing expectations about independent living.

The Learning Disability Coalition submitted the evidence as part of its response to the government’s “engagement process” on the future of care and support, which closed last week and will inform a green paper on funding reform next year.

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