DH bids to strengthen learning disability partnership boards

The Department of Health launched guidance today to help improve the performance of learning disability partnership boards.

The publication fulfils a pledge made in Valuing People Now and is designed to meet the policy paper’s aim of strengthening boards, amid concerns over their patchy performance to date.

The boards, which are not statutory, were set up under the 2001 Valuing People white paper and have representation from public agencies, people with learning disabilities and their carers.

They are supposed to oversee the strategic planning, commissioning and performance management of learning disability services.

However, Nottingham University research published last year found boards struggled to balance strategic planning with representing users and carers, and decisions about funding for services were often taken without consulting boards.

The guidance draws on best practice from across the country and proposals include:-

  • Making directors of adult social services and primary care trust chief executives board members.
  • Giving people with learning disabilities and carers at least 50% representation on boards, and giving them support to take an active part in decision making.
  • Boards having a system for checking on their progress and performance management.
  • Councils and other key agencies informing boards well in advance about spending and service plans.
  • The document urges boards to compile annual reports from April 2010 as recommended in Valuing People Now, and includes a template to help boards with doing this.
  • It also sets out priority areas for boards for 2009-12, as laid out in Valuing People Now, including:-
    • Developing an information strategy to publicise the availability of advocacy services locally.
    • Ensuring all relevant agencies are using accessible information when supporting parents with learning disabilities.
    • Ensuring people with learning disabilities and their carers are involved in improving health services for the client group.

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