We are the organisations that represent voluntary and independent providers of learning disability services in England. We have come together to provide a unified response to the transforming care plans published today by NHS England and their partners.
Time for action
Transforming and improving care for people with learning disabilities, and particularly those with behaviour that challenges, is a joint endeavour. The endeavour is a partnership between people who use services and their families, providers and commissioners. There is no one constituency that holds all the answers, but together we can deliver the change people with learning disabilities want and expect.
The voluntary and independent provider sector is committed to working transparently and collaboratively to support the transforming care programme. We have worked with NHS England and partners to help shape the agenda. But from these words we believe now is the time for action.
Significant change required at scale and pace
The transforming care programme requires substantial change to be delivered at scale and pace. The task ahead cannot be underestimated and it will not be sufficient to plan services one person at a time. The challenge is to develop person-centred services at a scale that helps large numbers of people move back to their communities and stops people entering assessment and treatment units unnecessarily. For these reasons there need to be significant financial investment, from a range of sources, to re-provide services from in- patient services to community based solutions.
Alongside service transformation there needs to be workforce transformation. The sector is already experiencing significant challenges with recruitment and retention of staff in an ever more competitive labour market. The right workforce to deliver person-centred care, including approaches such as positive behaviour support, needs to be planned and delivered in a systematic and coherent way.
Maximising individual choice is absolutely paramount as people move out of assessment and treatment units. The role of advocacy will be central to this process and whilst community provision is a key offer, we recognise it is one of many options that exist for individuals. We want individuals to exercise independence and control over their own lives.
Community providers need to ensure that they are building the right organisational culture, values and skills to deliver and support people. This includes enabling people to access personal budgets and individual service funds. Ultimately, as the transformation plan is implemented, providers will need to demonstrate their capability to people with learning disabilities and their families as well as to commissioners.
Responses from the sector
Professor Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of the Voluntary Organisations Disability said:
“The transforming care programme has been protracted to say the very least. The welcome announcement of assessment and treatment unit closures needs to go hand in hand with the development of high quality community services – no ifs and no buts. Community providers can ensure support is personalised to reflect preferences, aspirations and choices”.
Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England, said:
”The knowledge, skills and commitment within the provider sector will form a vital element of the delivery programme for transforming care. We look forward to working in partnership with people with learning disabilities, their families, carers and statutory sector partners, to ensure high quality care is available in local communities”.
Alicia Wood, chief executive of the Housing & Support Alliance said:
“We are committed to good quality housing and support that gives people with learning disabilities real control over what happens in their lives. Our experience consistently shows us that when we get this right for people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour, it can transform their lives”.
Lisa Lenton, England director at the Association for Real Change said:
”The Association for Real Change works with 130 charity and independent sector providers to ensure that the voices of people with learning disabilities are heard when it comes to delivering care and support. Quality person centred support for people can be achieved through people working together and with the right funding behind it. It can truly transform peoples’ lives”.
Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations said:
“There have been so many broken promises. So many reports. People with learning disabilities have been badly let down by the system. When I have spoken to people with learning disabilities who have been incarcerated in institutions for years I’m appalled at the way they have been treated. That is why I welcome today’s closure programme. That’s why I welcome the plan to scale up community provision. In my view it’s a step-change. High time some will say, but I’m confident it is now going to happen”.
Voluntary Organisations Disability Group