Moving adults with learning disabilities from care homes into supported living and promoting greater independence for the group could help councils deliver savings while meeting needs.
That was the message from a Local Government Association (LGA) report into how councils can deliver efficiency savings in learning disability services.
The LGA’s Learning Disability Services Efficiency Project was initiated last year after it identified that councils were struggling to make savings in learning disability services.
The project’s interim report provides a snapshot of work being undertaken by five councils – Barking and Dagenham, Cumbria, Darlington, Kent and Wiltshire councils – to find ways to curb costs in learning disability services while meeting needs.
Cutting high-cost placements
Cumbria reported that it expects to save £350,000 after identifying that the needs of people in its most expensive care homes could be better met in other settings, including supported housing. The council estimated if that the same were true for those in less costly homes, the savings could be up to £2m over three years.
Kent is earmarking savings of between £4.75m and £8m from a programme of moving people out of care homes where their needs could be better met in supported living. This involved assessing the risks and benefits of adults moving out of care homes into other settings and working with providers to develop the supported living market, including through the deregistration of care homes.
More personal assistants
In Barking and Dagenham, the council anticipates saving £670,000 by transforming day opportunities through increased use of personal assistants (PAs) and the closure of one of the borough’s day centres.
The council has created a post to develop the use of PAs for people with learning disabilities and has developed an accreditation scheme for trainers of PAs.
Kent has also saved money by creating the Kent Pathways Service, a pilot scheme that encourages service user independence by developing their daily life skills, helping them find courses or employment and work to build their confidence. The LGA report said the Kent service has made savings that would equate to around £500,000 a year if initial savings also apply to all of the 507 people with learning disabilities that the council believes could benefit from the service.
A final report on the progress made by the five authorities involved in the learning disabilities project is due to be published in autumn 2016.