Failings in transition support blight lives of disabled people

Disabled teenagers are being held back by a lack of sufficient support during the transition from child to adult services, according to a new study.

Rights of Passage, a report by charity think tank and consultancy New Philanthropy Capital, said disabled teenagers and their families felt isolated as a result.

“Things that most teenagers take for granted, such as going to college or university, getting a job or simply moving away from the family home, are not happening for disabled young people because they are not getting the support they need,” said report author Clare Yeowart.

“We found that charities like Mencap, Scope and Leonard Cheshire Disability are providing crucial support for families and young people when other services have failed.”

This shortcoming at such a key transition stage can affect disabled people for the rest of their lives. One problem highlighted in the report was low levels of employment among people with disabilities – just 17% of adults with learning disabilities are in paid employment.

Moving away from home is another area in which disabled young people struggle, the report said. Andy Lusk, executive director of services at disability charity Scope, said this issue is increasingly problematic.

“There is a severe shortage of suitable services available to young disabled people when they make the transition to adulthood,” he said. “We even know of cases where families, as a last and often desperate measure, are forced to place their son or daughter in residential care homes intended for the elderly because there is no other placement available.”

A survey by the government’s Transition Support Programme revealed that only half of all local areas in England had a transition plan in place for the 600,000 disabled people aged 14-25 in the UK,

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