Improving Lives: Supporting Adults with Learning Disabilities
- 31 January 2017
- 08:30 - 16:15
- Manchester Conference Centre
“Fantastic Day” “Very Inspiring”
“Thought Provoking” “Very Powerful”
These are just some of the very positive comments made by delegates that attended Open Forum Events conference that focused on improving the lives of people with learning disabilities. This year’s conference; Learning Disabilities: Fulfilling Potential and Supporting Better Lives, will aim to continue the discussions and forward the progress being made in supporting people to take full advantage of life’s opportunities and enabled them to lead fulfilled lives.
Latest figures for 2015 estimate that in England there are 1,087,100 people with learning disabilities, including 930,400 adults, requiring lifelong care, support and protection, to a varying degree, according to the extent of their disabilities. To meet these diverse needs, in 2001 the government launched a new strategy, ‘Valuing People’ which set out ambitious and challenging plans to improve the support and services available to people with learning disabilities based on four key principles: civil rights, independence, choice and inclusion. During the intervening years the aim to transform services has continued with intended improvements in healthcare, employment, education, housing, social services and better support for families and carers.
The Transforming Care programme has sought to move people away from institutionalised accommodation to more community based living, boosted by a recent £10m investment by NHS England to support independent living closer to family and friends. Reducing the health inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities is also a key government initiative, as is the desire to close the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people.
The Learning Disabilities: Fulfilling Potential and Supporting Better Lives conference, will introduce to you a comprehensive agenda of expert professionals, contributors and self-advocates, who will guide delegates through a programme of informative and insightful plenary sessions. Examples of best practice and initiatives will be showcased which delegates may feel appropriate to adopt as part of their own support provision. There will be ample opportunity to question, discuss and debate the progress made with improvement, as well as share stories and experiences with the conference to contribute to the wider thinking about supporting better lives.
There are many challenges facing people with learning disabilities and their families in ensuring they are afforded the same rights as the rest of the population to be valued, protected, offered choice, have equality and able to maximise potential and lead full enriched lives.
People with learning disabilities have poorer life expectancy that that of the general population. The Confidential Inquiry into deaths of people with learning disabilities (CIPOLD) shows that men die on average 13 years younger, women 20 years younger, than the general population. It is also true that people with learning disabilities are more likely to suffer from poorer health, as they are at greater risk of chronic disorders, injuries, epilepsy, sensory impairments and mobility problems. They are four times more likely than the general population to suffer from anxiety and depression. It is regarded that the increased prevalence of premature death and poorer health can be avoidable. Difficulty accessing appropriate healthcare services can account for the inequality in outcomes. Identifying needs and expressions of pain and discomfort, delays and problems in diagnosis and treatment, communication and in particular capacity to consent to examinations and interventions, such as screening, can compound the issues surrounding avoidable illness. NHS England is making strides to improve health outcomes for people with learning disabilities. Increasing the uptake of routine health checks, ensuring that learning disabilities are part of regulatory inspections, overseeing local health and well-being strategies, and developing a new national facility to track mortality levels are all measure to improve future healthcare services.
Although there is still an inequality in life expectancy, as with the general population, people with learning disabilities are living longer. Again, just as in the wider society, chronic illness and dementia are issues that people with learning disabilities and their families are having to face. Those with learning disabilities, especially those with Down’s Syndrome, are more at risk of developing dementia and will face more difficult and challenging issues than those who do not have a learning disability. Equally, people with learning disabilities, who are nearing the end of their lives, are entitled to the same choice, care and support to develop palliative and end of life care plans.
Living independently, within the community, is the default position dependent on needs and choice. The Transforming Care programme is designed to offer people and their families/carer more say in the care they receive and where they receive it. It is providing more supported, personalised care in the community so that people can stay close to family and friends. The majority of institutionalised accommodation provisions are being closed down as they are no longer seen at the appropriate setting for the majority of people with learning disabilities.
In addition to the £20m already announced by NHS England as part of the Transforming Care programme a further investment of over £10 million will support fourteen local Transforming Care Partnerships – made up of NHS organisations, local authorities and NHS England commissioners, working closely with people who use services, their families and providers – to develop new, high-quality, community services for people in their area.
An additional £25m has been set aside for a housing and technology fund for people with learning disabilities. The Department of Health are inviting local authorities to apply for a share of the fund to provide housing and technology solutions for people with learning disabilities to improve and adapt existing accommodation to deliver a host of benefits to enhance independent living.
Join us at the Learning Disabilities: Fulfilling Potential and Supporting Better Lives conference where individuals living with or affected by a learning disability and professionals dedicated to enhancing the lives of those with learning disabilities can discuss and debate the challenges to make further improvements and support better lives.
People with learning disabilities should be enabled to fulfill their full potential and be offered the opportunities to do so by providing relevant and comprehensive support. Offering choice, protection and equality in healthcare are essential to ensure they are afforded the same rights as the rest of the population
The Department of Health commissioned a review to take a strategic overview and recommend what practical action can be taken to co-ordinate care, support and treatment for children and young people with complex needs (and behaviour that challenges) involving mental health problems and learning disabilities and/or autism.
The report; ‘These are our children’ makes 11 recommendations for government departments and partners at a national level on how to improve the system.
Jacqui Shurlock led a three-year review of early intervention for children with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge, funded by DH, which informed the Lenehan review and the children’s content of the Transforming Care programme
People have the right to express their choices in regard to living independently. To do so successfully, appropriate housing and accommodation arrangements must be made available.
Although life expectancy for people with learning disabilities has and continues to improve, the risks of premature and avoidable deaths resulting from unidentified health needs remain prevalent. Recognising the end of life phase can be challenging, leading to a delayed opportunity for individuals and their families to plan and make choices for the palliative and end of life care they wish to receive.
Community Integrated Care and St Helens Rugby League Club
Social care charity, Community Integrated Care, and Saints have formed an exciting new partnership, offering adults with learning disabilities the opportunity to take part in health and wellbeing activities, as well as special match day experiences.
STOMP is about making sure people get the right medicine if they need it and that people get all the help they need in other ways as well. It is about encouraging people to have regular medication reviews, supporting health professionals to involve people in decisions and showing how families and social care providers can be involved. STOMP also aims to improve awareness of non-drug therapies and practical ways of supporting people whose behaviour is seen as challenging.
The Play Unified campaign is inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to understanding, acceptance and friendship; breaking down the barriers that exist for people with learning disabilities.
As a global Special Olympics campaign, delivered in the UK in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, it looks to end the injustice, intolerance and inactivity of young people with learning disabilities, by building a unified generation through sport. This builds on research that highlights people with disabilities are less than half as likely to play sport at least once a week as the general populate (Sport England, 2016)
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