LD in the News

Written by Clare Melvin

Transforming Care – is it working?

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Seven years after the Winterbourne View scandal, the use of restraints on adults with learning disabilities in hospital units in England rose by 50% between 2016 and 2017.  In 2017, restraints were used more than 22,000 times – once every half an hour. This was up from 15,000 times in 2016.

Former Social Care Minister Norman Lamb said the use of restraint was “shameful”.
The Department of Health said it was committed to reducing the use of restrictive force in hospitals.

Read more on the figures of restraint usage in England’s hospitals for people with learning disabilities here, and listen to BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 ‘Transforming Care – is it working?’.  The programme speaks to Viv Cooper, of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, a charity which supports people with severe learning disabilities and Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, who introduced guidelines to reduce the use of force in hospitals in 2014.

Following the Winterbourne View scandal the government pledged to transfer people with learning disabilities and autism out of unsuitable hospital placements and into supported community living settings. A key milestone was to cut inpatient beds by March 2019 and to transform the lives of people who have been previously been ‘stuck’ in institutional settings.

But the File on 4 programme was told that the target will be missed and that it’s unachievable. Without the necessary expansion of capability to provide care for people in their own homes or community settings – many will, and still, languish in unsafe and unsuitable accommodation, with little prospect of moving on.

Prisons and Transgender Offenders

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A really interesting blog on this week on Where should transgender prisoners be housed? For transgender offenders with learning and developmental disabilities this is an important issue. This question over transgender prisoners is in the news once again, with some calling for segregated wings for transgender people in prison. The issue is a complicated one entangling concepts of gender identity, risk, security, vulnerability and dignity. Read the full blog by Sarah Armstrong here.

‘Involve neurodivergent survivors in shaping mental health support responses to sexual assault’.

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Neurodivergence is said to include individuals on the autistic spectrum (diagnosed or self-identifying) and those possessing other neurodivergent identities such as ADHD, dyspraxia, epilepsy, or non-speaking autistic people (among others). ‘Survivor’ is a term often used to describe the experience of being attacked and living beyond, although there is recognition that this may constitute further labelling for some.  All survivors of sexual assault require an individual approach, but meaningful support for neurodivergent survivors requires using preferred terminology and methods of communication (e.g. visual, oral, text or a combination), checking that information received or provided is understood and revisiting this as memory can be a very real problem. Read more and find out about the involvement of individuals with autism spectrum conditions at Learning Disability Today.

Events and Training

  • Advocacy Awareness Week 2018.  Advocacy Awareness Week is an opportunity to celebrate the power and impact that advocacy has on people’s lives. It also provides time to explore and communicate some of the pressing issues facing the future of advocacy in helping peoples voices be heard.  Visit NDTi to read more about Advocacy Awareness Week 2018: 22nd-26th October, and make sure to share the campaign with #hearmyvoice and share your stories under #AAW18. Contributions are welcome from all, advocacy users, advocates, families, carers and organisation – the more said the louder the voice!
  • Understanding Autism, the highly successful massive online open course (MOOC) is beginning it’s next run 5th November 2018.  With over 29,000 learners taking thpart in the course so far (it began April 2017), and content/contributions provided by academics, clinicians and academics with Autism, this course is free and provides the opportunity to learn about the history of our understanding of autism and challenge some of the existing beliefs and stereotypes about the condition.  The course is suitable for all, from teachers, support workers, family members, spouses, sibling, individuals with autism, teachers, spouses and siblings with autism, nurses, doctors, professors and nurses, doctors and professors with autism.  The four-week course can be completed at your own pace and online participation is voluntary.  This will be the course’s sixth run and it has received positive feedback from the online autism community.
  • Sign up to the Greater London Learning Disability Community of Practice free launch event! 7th November 2018 at the Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury. Come along and join the new community providing opportunities for people with learning disabilities, families, carers and professionals. Find out more and Book your place here.

Don’t forget to join our GLLDCOP facebook group and follow us on Twitter @glldcop

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