Community-based day activities and supports for people with learning disabilities
Messages from 'Having a good day' - Political will and support
Without political will and support modernisation of day services and development of community-based support is slow to develop.
- The way that local areas are commissioning, developing and organising services to help people achieve social inclusion and an ordinary life is very variable. It reflects local resources, political priorities and ethos.
- The prevailing political ethos in a local area has a particular impact in relation to 'externalisation’, i.e. moving existing day services out of the local authority. But where this has happened it has shown positive benefits.
- Local authority commissioners and service managers are powerful people, but they do not have control over all the decisions. Directors, board members and politicians often have to be 'courted’ to support modernisation plans that go beyond having special buildings.
- Keep abreast of new Government directives affecting local authorities (for example, recent requirements to develop Local Area Agreements, local strategic partnerships, community engagement strategies). Stay aware of the national performance targets and ratings that politicians and directors are reporting on, and make sure they know how your local community development and modernisation plans can support them. Talk about your developments in the context of their priorities and in their language.
- If formally presenting plans to politicians and directors always involve people with learning disabilities and family carers who can talk about how they have been helped to achieve more ordinary daily lives in their community. Ensure politicians and directors receive copies of newsletters and good news stories. Help them to be proud of, and feel party to, good ordinary life achievements.
- Politicians and directors may need help to understand why some families oppose planned changes to day provision. Help them. Give them information about what needs to be in place to make the new developments work well for families.
- Encourage self-advocates to make direct contact with politicians, targeting those with a social care lead (a portfolio) but also those leading on community, leisure and transport services within the local authority. But don’t forget local politicians as well - the district, town and parish councillors - who make decisions about our local areas and facilities.
In the London Borough of Ealing the Partnership Group - people with learning disabilities who link into the Partnership Board - have campaigned very actively and directly for new developments. They have had a real impact, with the result that a Travel Buddy scheme has been set up, and taxi cards have been made available. Their target now is to get more accessible changing places around the borough.
- The local authority Performance Assessment Framework for social care and the Delivery and Improvement Statement (DIS) guidance is available on the Commission for Social Care Inspection website.
- Annual Performance Assessment (APA) targets for children and young people’s services (including transition) are available on the Ofsted website.