Learning disability plan comes under scrutiny

People with learning disabilities are being invited to help shape some of the services they receive in the Capital over the next decade.

The consultation exercise comes as the United Kingdom marks Learning Disability Week, which starts today (21 June). Earlier this year the City of Edinburgh Council and NHS Lothian agreed their 10 year Edinburgh Learning Disability Plan with proposals which aim to: give people more choice and control of their services, result in better local care for people who need a lot of help and look at ways of making funding go further.

A group of service users, carers, advocacy organisations and providers have been developing how to consult on the plan and specially developed materials have been produced to ensure no one is excluded. 

Around 3,500 leaflets will be sent to service users and providers this week asking for feedback and advising them that a questionnaire is available on line or from the Council's Health and Social Care department. A special DVD has also been produced which providers and advocacy organisations have been sent.

Some of the issues being highlighted include:

  • helping young people get a job
  • helping people become more independent travellers
  • financing options so people can buy their own support
  • giving extra help to parents with a learning disability
  • looking at support for older carers and the use of Telecare technology

Councillor Paul Edie, Health and Social Care Leader, said: "The landscape of caring for people with learning disabilities will be unrecognisable in 10 years time.People are living longer and there will be more people with learning disabilities, youngsters with severe autism and young people with physical and learning disabilities.

"Changes are inevitable and we have to recognise that and move with the times. We hope as many people as possible take up our request for feedback so we can ensure they receive the service they feel best suits them."

Jimmy McIntosh, chairperson of the Edinburgh Advocating Together group, supported by People First (Scotland), said: "Our members are keen to have a say in how services are provided and I would ask everyone to take part in the consultation so we can contribute to the debate.

"Issues like securing employment, using public transport and having the correct support to live independently in our communities are all of great importance.  We would ask that all comments made are given close attention, as we are the experts."

Rona Laskowski, Strategic Programme Manager, Disabilities, from NHS Lothian said: "We welcome the opportunity to take this work forward, building on the joint strategy by NHS Lothian and all of its partners.  Moving forward we will ensure people with learning disabilities and those who care for people with learning disabilities remain actively engaged in shaping health and social care services in the future."

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