Edward Stroud works for a major accountancy firm and is author of ‘The Need for Community’, a major new report published by the Centre for Social Justice.
Care for adults with learning disabilities faces a “looming crisis”.
Since 2010 investment in residential care for adults with learning disabilities has been allowed to stagnate, whilst the number of people with the most acute disabilities, and who require the most support, is set to rise by nearly 40 per cent between 2010 and 2026.
As funding pressures have set in this “looming crisis” has hit home. In our new report, “The Need for Community”, we set out the true extent of this challenge.
Across England adults with learning difficulties have seen a reduction in the number of hours of support they are given, less financial support to acquire that care, and are now being charged more for this care.
The Centre for Social Justice is today launching a campaign for reform with a three point plan:
Pragmatism: Britain needs a care system in which there is transparency between care commissioning decisions and the impact these have on those at the heart of the system.
To achieve this, the Government should abolish the outdated distinction between ‘supported living’ and ‘residential care’, which obstructed this view.
Instead we introduce a new regulatory term, “housing with care” enabling bespoke support to be delivered around individual needs not regulatory bureaucracy.
Alongside a single new description for residential support care providers should be required to differentiate between how much they charge for ‘housing’ and how much they charge for ‘care’.
This will bring much needed transparency to the provision of care, and placing adults with learning disabilities and their advocates in the driving seat.
Personalisation: These two, simple reforms will free care commissioners to ensure that those receiving care receive the ‘right care’.
In real terms this means that it will be easier to recognise those who need the most support, and, most importantly, to grant this support in the form that is most appropriate to the individual.
This may be in a communal setting, or in a more independent one – but most importantly it will be driven by the needs and preferences of the individual, not the system.
This Government has talked about making policy more “human”, there seems few policy areas more suited to this approach than the care of another human person.
In supporting individuals, in respecting their wishes, and pursuing ‘personalisation’ the Government can help create a more human care system, supporting individuals to engage in the wider community in which they live.
Protection: If how we care for our most vulnerable is a litmus test for a compassionate society, the urgency of this issue becomes clear. We found big shortfalls in the quality of advocacy on behalf of adults with learning disabilities.
Our report calls on the Government to establish a truly independent advocacy process to ensure that the voice of those with learning disabilities is always heard.
This report promotes a positive vision by placing the individual at the heart of the care system, maintaining that their choices and needs must dictate the care they receive. In seeking to preserve the communal settings in which care is delivered it also recognises the power that other people can play in helping the individual towards this goal.
In establishing stronger safeguards in the care system, this report hopes to protect those who might otherwise have immoveable obstacles put before them. In doing so we also safeguard the vision of a society committed to all people having an equal chance of success, and equal access to the support they need.
Our three point plan not only seeks to rouse the nation from sleepwalking into this “looming crisis”, it seeks to lay the foundations for a more compassionate society.