New plans to transform care for Derbyshire people with learning difficulties

A NEW plan to transform the way people with learning disabilities and autism are cared for and supported has been announced by Derbyshire County Council.

The county council is to work with local NHS partners to develop the plan which will see the development of `extra care’ housing schemes and specialist residential care centres across the county, purpose-built for people with learning disabilities and autism.

The plan, which will be called the `Accommodation, Care and Support Strategy for people with Learning Disabilities’, is the county council’s response to the Department of Health’s recent call for changes to the way people with learning disabilities are cared for following the Winterbourne View Hospital case.

Winterbourne View, a private hospital near Bristol, made national headlines when an undercover BBC Panorama investigation exposed neglect and abuse of patients with learning disabilities by staff.

The investigation led to four support workers and two nurses being jailed for between six months and two years for their part in the abuse, while five others were given suspended prison sentences.

The case resulted in the Department of Health issuing a number of recommendations for change to organisations providing social care and health, including local authorities.

One of the main recommendations is to reduce the number of people with learning disabilities living in hospitals and to end all `inappropriate placements’ by 2014.

Other recommendations include stronger accountability and corporate responsibility for owners and directors of private hospitals and care homes and tighter inspection and regulation of hospitals and care homes for vulnerable groups.

New guidance on staff training will also be issued and there will be closer working between the NHS and local authorities providing social care.

The recommendations were considered by the Derbyshire Adult Care Board, made up of representatives from the county council’s adult care and children’s services, district and borough councils, Derbyshire Police, NHS, local GPs, the probation service and children’s and adults safeguarding boards.

The Adult Care Board will now set up a project group to ensure the Department of Health recommendations are addressed and to develop the new Accommodation, Care and Support Strategy for people with learning disabilities and autism this year. The new plan aims to provide specialist short and long-term care for people with learning disabilities and autism, developing purpose-built apartments and centres, close to where people live.

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Care Councillor Charles Jones said: “We are pleased to announce our plans to transform the way people with learning disabilities and autism are cared for and will be developing this over the months to come.

“It is very important we get this right and that we meet the recommendations set down by the Department of Health. The plan will make a real difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities and autism in the county in the future.”

Further details will be announced later this year.

The county council’s current £200 million investment plans to transform accommodation, care and support for older people, building up to 1,600 extra care apartments and four specialist community care centres, will be used as a template for the new programme.

The Board’s proposal was supported by Derbyshire’s Health and Wellbeing Board at its recent meeting.