By Saskia Greenhalgh
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% between 2010 and 2026.
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.
As funding pressures have set in, this looming crisis has hit home. In the CSJ's new report, The Need for Community: A study of housing for adults with learning disabilities, we set out the true extent of this challenge.
Our new report has raised concerns that adults with learning disabilities aren’t always receiving the right care to allow them to live independent lives.
The CSJ wants to see the autonomy, independence and the potential of those with learning disabilities placed at the heart of the care system. Both supported living and residential care are important models of provision and people should be able to choose which model best suits their needs and allows them to thrive, learn, grow and develop independence.
Our report sets out a road map for making this happen.
The report finds nearly 1 in 5 adults with a learning disability said they can’t afford basic necessities without help from family. While 17% saw a reduction in their hours of support and 18% were being charged more for the services they received.
Recommendation: 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and the impact these have on those at the heart of the system.To achieve this, the Government should abolish the outdated distinction between ‘supported living’ and ‘residential care’, which obstructs this view. Instead we introduce a new regulatory term, “housing with care” enabling bespoke support to be delivered around individual needs not regulatory bureaucracy.
Recommendation: 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 place adults with learning disabilities and their advocates in control.
Recommendation: In a call to the Treasury we recommend allowing those in residential care to claim housing benefit and the daily living component of Personal Independence Payments to address a potential bias towards supported living in the provision of care.
Recommendation: Our report 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.
The care and accommodation people with learning disabilities receive is fundamental to their quality of life.
If how we care for our most vulnerable is a litmus test for a compassionate society, the urgency of this issue becomes clear.
CSJ report: The Need for Community: A study of housing for adults with learning disabilities
Conservative Home article: A three point plan to tackle care for adults with learning disabilities