Created on 02 June 2017

EVERY WEEK or month seems to be promoting awareness of different disabilities or organisations.

This week is Learning Disability Week, an annual event, and this year’s theme is ‘Looking Back, Thinking Forward‘ in Scotland’s past, present and future. The week is co-ordinated by the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD). The aim of the week is for the public to take the opportunity to reflect on how the lives of people with learning disabilities here in Scotland have changed since the launch of Scotland’s first learning disability strategy in 2001.

This new strategy is called ‘The Keys to Life’ and was launched in 2013, supported by the Scottish Government, to discover if the lives of people with a learning disability had improved since their previous strategy, ‘The Same As You’ in 2001.

For me, every day is about raising awareness of disability issues and breaking the barriers so that we can have a fairer, more equal society for 175,000 adults in Scotland with a learning disability (that’s enough people to fill three football stadiums).
A team was set up to research statistics and opinions, and ‘The Keys to Life’ is the outcome of the research. The team created a survey group to get feedback on the report, and all of the information has helped build a new, informative and insightful resource.

‘The Keys to Life’ has lots of recommendations about how the lives of people with learning disabilities can be, and have, improved. One recommendation is an idea around making things better in the future. The organisers want to learn lessons from the past, and think about how we can work towards building a better future.

For me, every day is about raising awareness of disability issues and breaking the barriers so that we can have a fairer, more equal society for 175,000 adults in Scotland with a learning disability (that’s enough people to fill three football stadiums).

40-60% of children born to parents with learning disabilities don’t grow up in the family home. Of the 22,600 of adults living in Scotland with learning disabilities who are known to local authorities, one third of them lives with a family carer.

But I think the most concerning statistics in Scotland today are:

– Only seven per cent of adults with learning disability are in employment.

– Half of school leavers with learning disabilities do not enter into employment.

As you can see there is some way to go on getting more people with a disability into employment, bearing in mind that this campaign runs every year and still there is little change.

We should be looking forward as a society, and get more people with a disability who can work into a job. An independent Scotland could achieve this.

I don’t understand why there is still stigma around employers hiring people with a disability. I know a lot of people who would love to work, but are not given the chance to show what they are capable of.

This has to change.

This article first appeared on the CommonSpace website at https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/10978/michael-mcewan-stigma-around-employing-people-disability-has-end 

Success in East Renfrewshire

Created on 09 November 2015

The Friends of Barrhead and Thornliebank Resource Centres who were campaigning to save both their local day centres have put out the following statement from East Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership who have now decided to keep open both centres.

Please read the very brief statement below from the East Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership – it is an excellent result for the group but the statement also demonstrates our need to keep together and to keep engaging with them as the centres start to change.

We will thank all the individuals and organisations who have offered their support over the last years – ERDA, PAMIS, Learning Disability Alliance, Downs Syndrome Society, SDSForumER, carers’ representatives, MSPs etc

This is a great group and we have made a significant impact in East Renfrewshire….( and beyond  – some Glasgow carers rightly feeling even more now that they were never listened to.)

LEARNING DISABILITY DAY SERVICES

In February this year the Council approved a range of savings measures proposed by the HSCP including £90k which we hoped to achieve by the closure of one of our learning disability day centre buildings.  We saw this as a natural consequence of our vision and strategy for daytime activities for people with learning disabilities.  That vision, which we had been developing over a number of years, was for people with learning disabilities to access a much wider range of community based options, from volunteering to employment and participating in a wider range of community activities with support.  Our intent was to work with a range of groups and agencies to develop alternatives that met the aspirations of people with learning disabilities to live good lives.  It was also a good fit with self directed support, where more personalised support arrangements – perhaps with alternative providers, would evolve over time.

With hindsight, offering the £90k saving was not the best way of achieving that vision, as very quickly, our intent was lost and the building closure became the focus.

We have taken time to reflect on the best way of getting back to the original vision and have had some early discussion with officers from some of our third sector partners, the Carers Centre, SDS Forum and Voluntary Action, to look at a different way of realising our ambitions for people with learning disabilities, whilst looking at alternative ways of reaching our savings target.

Our early ideas include changing the use of the buildings, keeping them both as “hubs” for people with learning disabilities but opening them for wider community use.  We would like to explore the potential of sharing space with a number of organisations, possibly in Barrhead where we currently have a HSCP office accommodation, to provide more of a one stop shop focussing on support for independent living and self directed support working alongside our own staff.  These two ideas would create different, more inclusive environments and offer potential for us to bring in income to offset running costs and lead to the creation of social enterprises that could attract grants and generate additional funds.  These are ideas that have also been suggested by some family members and we are keen to work with them to develop them further.

We recognise that the current buildings do matter to people, and in this way we hope we can work together to improve what we can both offer people with learning disabilities and other community groups.

We will work this proposal up and take it to the IJB, but we have broad support from the Council Administration leaders to develop these ideas further.

We do still have to identify a saving of £90k by March 2017 and I hope that we can work together with people with learning disabilities, their families and our third sector partners to find alternative ways to achieve it.

 JULIE MURRAY, CHIEF OFFICER HSCP

Created on 07 February 2015

Other services are currently under threat.  This year in Falkirk two employment services for disabled people are facing financial challenges.

ASSET is a council run non profit making business to get people with learning disabilities into work.  In a sheltered workshop setting they make  a lot of  different things, from fences, benches, bird houses, planters, balloons, wedding favours, invitations and much more.  A redesign of employment services to people with a disability is being proposed with potential closure mooted.

Also in the same area is the Caledonia Clubhouse is an employment service for people with mental health problems and people with learning disabilities which helps people take up a range of options from volunteering to employment.  It tries not to pressure vulnerable adults too quickly.   Falkirk Council is reviewing its mental health services and hopes to achieve efficiency savings  of about 20% as  a result.

For us at the Learning Disability Alliance the debate should not be an either/or decision between supported and open employment. It is right that adults with learning disabilities or disabilities should have every opportunity to work in a mainstream setting.

But as a society we still need to do two things.   First we must make  further progress if we are to overcome the discrimination and other barriers that stand in the way of equal treatment of all disable people.

Second we need to recognise that for some people with disabilities who are a long way from getting a job there is the need for some intermediate support to learn about what it means to get up in the morning and go to work, to be responsible to other people and to work set hours.

We know that there are a range of support services to help people with disabilities into work.

Throughout Scotland there are  a number of supported employment programmes set up to help disabled people into work  such as the Real Jobs Project in Edinburgh or the Shirlie Project in Inverness.

These have helped  thousands of people with learning disabilities into work.  They work in a staged model that is based on the “Place and Train” model.  This works really well for some people – you get the job first and then get special training on the job.  Work is more than just a job and pay – it is about mixing and socialising with others  –  that’s best done in ordinary workplaces.

However work in ordinary jobs doesn’t suit everyone straight away.   Part of the problem is that some disabled people need time to adjust to the world of work, to learn about the skills needed to survive in a job.  That’s not just how to do the job but also how to survive the banter and keep up with other people.

The Supported Employment Framework for Scotland is a national strategy for Supported Employment.  It is not meant to determine everything that happens in employability for people with disabilities but does set standards for those agencies that call themselves Supported Employment.

But in terms of some of the  happens is local authorities can use the strategy in the same was as they used it to justify closing down their sheltered/training services.   The key problem comes down to money – when decisions are made by cash strapped councils then all the national strategies in the world won’t change their minds.  Instead strategies are twisted to suit.

In the future part of the employment strategy – the Work Programme will be transferred to Holyrood.  It may not be so easy in the future for the Scottish Government to walk away from issues such as the closure of sheltered workshops.

Council failed to consult properly over day centre closure by not asking specific about particular services due to close.  It was not enough to imply that a new policy might mean some closures says the Court of Appeal 

A county council failed to consult properly about the closure of a day centre, the Court of Appeal has ruled. The case of LH, R (on the application of) v Shropshire Council [2014] EWCA Civ 404 centred on the closure of the Hartleys Day Centre in Shrewsbury.    The claimant (LH) was a 63-year-old user of the centre who had a learning disability and had been assessed as having substantial care needs. Her sister acted as her litigation friend.

Shropshire had decided to close Hartleys after re-thinking the approach to day care in the county. This reconfiguration was partly a result of budgetary constraints and partly followed Government encouragement to give disabled people personalised budgets for spending in relation to their disability.

At issue was the extent of consultation required when a council reconfigures its day services and then decides to close a centre.

  • The local authority argued that it had consulted generally about the new system it was bringing in and had made it clear that some day care centres would close.
  • The claimant, however, argued that she and others should have been consulted in relation to the closure of Hartleys itself before it occurred. It was also alleged that there had been a failure to comply with the public sector equality duty contained in s. 149 of the Equality Act 2010.

Shropshire had accepted that fairness required that there should be consultation. The key question was how specific the consultation needed to be.

In the High Court His Honour Judge Sycamore ruled in favour of Shropshire, but this has now been overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Giving the judgment of the court, Lord Justice Longmore said: “In some ways I regret having to come to this conclusion, differing as I do from the judge…., because it is clear that Shropshire has taken a great deal of trouble to explain its reconfiguration of Adult Day Care and, in particular, the application of personalised budgets. The consultations undertaken in that respect were, as I have said, wide-ranging and, no doubt expensive and time-consuming to conduct.

“It has only mistaken its obligations at the last stage but, in the light of the law as I understand it to be, my own conclusion is that the omission to consult the users and relatives on the closure of Hartleys Day Centre before it was decided to close it was indeed unlawful.”

Hartleys was closed following the High Court hearing. Lord Justice Longmore said he did “not consider that it would be consonant to good administration now to quash the closure decision or to order the council now to conduct a consultation about its closure, when the only purpose of so doing would be to enable it to consult people, who are not now using it”.

The judge added: “That would be an expensive and over-legalistic exercise which justice to LH does not require especially as there is no reason to suppose that the council is not performing its duty to assist LH to find alternatives to Hartleys within her personalised budget.”

Lord Justice Longmore said he disagreed with counsel for Shropshire that it would be over-legalistic and pointless to grant any remedy at all.

“Having concluded that the council’s failure to consult did result in them acting unlawfully, the least that the court should do is to declare formally that this was the case,” he found.

Irwin Mitchell partner Alex Rook, who acted for the claimant, said: “This is a very important judgment not just in Shropshire, where it means that there would need to be a proper consultation before any of the remaining 15 centres could be considered for closure but also across the country where councils will be examining the requirements regarding public consultations very carefully.”

Rook added: “The judgment also provides much needed legal clarity at a time when many councils are being forced into making cuts to services. There is a need for clear, well-informed decision-making when assessing potentially adverse impacts on some of the most vulnerable members of society.

“This is particularly important in the current economic climate and applies not just to day centres but many other vital services provide by local authorities and the NHS that are facing cuts and possible closure. The judgment highlights the fact that it is for the courts to decide what is fair in relation to public consultations, not the local authority involved.”

Following the judgment, Shropshire Council said it was committed to continuing its work to give people more choice and control over adult social care services.

Stephen Chandler, director of adult services, said: “There are no winners in this situation, and it’s clearly regrettable that distress has been caused during these time-consuming and very costly court proceedings.

“We will now be reviewing what options are open to us, although it’s important to note that Hartley’s has already closed and the people who used the service have been supported to find alternative ways to spend their time, which on the whole have been successful.”

Chandler added: “We are pleased that the court recognised the work that had been done to consult with people about the transformation of adult services, which is reassuring, but we are disappointed they felt we needed to go further in this particular case, and clearly in future we will make sure we do that.

“We remain committed to transforming services and giving people greater freedom and control over the support they receive, which is where this stemmed from in the first place.”

 

What’s wrong with Glasgow’s Plan for Day Services

Created on 16 September 2013

Glasgow City Council is proposing to close three of the existing seven centres Berryknowes, Summerston, Hinshaw Street for people with learning disabilities.

The number of attendees would be reduced from a current 520 to 200.

Failures in the Council’s Case.

If there has been a failure to assess, how do the council know what current needs are.

One of the arguments used to justify closure of the centres is that current users have never been properly assessed.  The report states:

“The overwhelming majority of attendees at day services have been attending for a considerable number of years, mostly on a full time basis and many without either there having been any substantive assessment of need at the outset of attendance, or rigorous review of needs and subsequent provision of service.

“If their needs were being assessed for the first time today then in most cases service users would not be assessed as needing full time day centre services.”

This cannot be known if there has not been an assessment.  None of the current users of the centres have been assessed within the last 18 months as part of the personalisation process.  As a result we can only assume that this is a money driven decision.  As we have argued elsewhere, the Council’s Resource Allocation System is so distorted that very few people can expect to receive a budget that is sufficient to buy their existing services, no matter what their level of need is.

Only about half of service users go to the centre 5 days a week

Contrary to the implication in the report not all service users who attend day centres 5 days a week.  In figures released to SCLD in 2011, before the last wave of people withdrew from Day Centre use only 51.2% attended a day centre 5 days a week.  Many attended the day centre part time  and many others went out to use Glasgow Life centres and other community facilities.

The implication in the statement  – “If their needs were being assessed for the first time today then in most cases service users would not be assessed as needing full time day centre services.” – that most service users attend a day centre s false and is a way of the consultation being written to generate a particular answer.

Day Centres are seen by those that use them to provide valuable support for people with learning disabilities

Day centres remain popular for many people with learning disabilities with a range of needs.   There are a range of day services that work in different ways from the traditional “isolated island” model.

  • Many are now integrated with community leisure facilities.
  • Others are linked to work opportunities where people enjoy a range of activities personalised to their needs and wishes.
  • Other day centres don’t draw a line between community and centre activities but see them as linked in one continuum of engagement.

Part of the reason that people still value day centres is the sense of community, friendship and purpose that they gain from them.

Over the last ten years, it has become accepted that those who spend long periods of time in the “community” are seen as deviant – kids on street corners – alcohol and substance abusers in the local park, destitute on the street.

Day centres have provided a base from which people can reach out rather than just hang around shopping centres.  They help people with learning disabilities gain friends and the support of peers that they cannot always get in the family home.

It is important that people with learning disabilities are part of the wider community but as that community changes, we need to recognise what is happening and to adjust our policies to take account of these changes.

More work needs to be done by Glasgow on how Alternative Day Opportunities are developing.  There is some evidence that in Glasgow such placements are for less than two days a week for the majority of people.  It is not clear what quality checks there are on such services and whether these checks apply to all Alternative Day Opportunities.

Personalisation should be about choice

Personalisation and self-directed support are supposed to extend choice for people.  By closing down a valued service, Glasgow are removing the choice for people to access a service which they feel provides the best outcomes for them.  There seems to be a misconception within the local authority about Self Directed Support that it is all about re-designing services, when choosing to retain an existing service,  is a legitimate choice and should be supported.

It is the Personalisation process that is unfair in Glasgow.

The report justifies the review of Day Centres by the argument that if they are not reformed then the treatment of the current services users would be unfair.

“Learning Disability day centre provision as it is currently constructed and without reform presents a challenge to the fairness of the Personalisation service reform agenda as it has been established within Glasgow.”

The reality of the situation is that it is the Personalisation service reform agenda that is unfair.  The process has been well criticised in other documents.

The Resource Allocation System was established on the basis of a sample of users in the East End of the city with those with most expensive packages removed.

The ensuing RAS was arbitrarily reduced by 20%.

The Points and Assessment systems are unfairly set up to prevent any service user scoring 100 points and getting a maximum budget.

Service users have no appeal against an unfair budget.

No proper Equality Impact Assessment was carried out before the policy was introduced.

People with learning disability were excluded from the Equality screening tool that was used.

And many more problems.

Consultation must be carried out properly

The council want to rush a consultation through in the next 4 weeks in the run up to Christmas with no information available in Easy Read or DVD format for people with learning disabilities.

Legal precedent established in R (Boyejo) v Barnet LBC (and R (Smith) v Portsmouth City Council (2009) means a local authority need not consult on the closure of social care services but if they do they must do this properly.

It must be undertaken at a time when the proposals are still at a formative stage.

Sufficient reasons must be given to allow those consulted to give intelligent consideration and an intelligent response.

There must also be adequate time for such a response.

Disabled people must be involved in the decision in a substantive way.

These last two points must be met and without doing so then the consultation is flawed from the beginning.

Substantial further legal information on the “legitimate expectation” that councils will carry “their consultation” properly is available on request.

A flawed consultation.

The Consultation Questions being used are chosen to deliberately gain approval of the Council’s policy.  The Questions are as follows

  1. Do you think that the Council should be a direct provider of day services to adults with a learning disability as described within the proposal paper?

This question does not make it clear that agreeing the council remains a direct provider means also agreeing to the closure of 3 centres and reduction of service to 320 others.  Such an approach can be seen as an attempt to gain a positive response.  Many respondents will reply to the question as if it does not have the last 6 words.

  1. Do you understand why a new model of day services is required?

This question assumes that a new model of day service is needed and asks how well the person understands the information

  1. Do you agree that service users over 65 should have their support delivered by age appropriate services?

There is no information provided at all within the report about age appropriate resources.  There would need to be adequate information about what facilities were intended, what training was provided for staff, what activities would be provided and so on.

  1. What kind of community facilities would you like to see used by adults with learning disabilities?

Adults with learning disabilities already use community facilities in Glasgow all the time, even when they attend day centres.  It is not clear what this question is designed to achieve apart from creating an impression that the alternative for the 320 people excluded from day centres will use community facilities instead.  However that cannot be assumed.  As the paper states, the new budget individuals get will be less than the value of current services.  What these individuals can do in the future will depend on the size of that budget.

  1. Where would you like to see additional wet room changing facilities sited in the community?

Is there someone that doesn’t want this?  However most people will know these facilities as Changing Places toilets.  A full map of all such publicly accessible toilets is available on the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland website at  .  We have taken a petition to the Scottish Government signed  by thousands arguing for more such toilets.  There is currently only three in Glasgow provided by a private company at the St Enoch’s Shopping Centre, others are at Touch Base and Cardonald College.  These should have been provided as a matter of course many years ago by Glasgow City Council.

  1. Do you understand why Social Services need to review the way transport is provided for adults with learning disabilities?

Again this question asks how well people understand the need to review not whether or not people agree with a review taking place.  Such questions are easy to confuse people because they ask for comments on the general process and not the particular challenges that people will face if their transport arrangements are changed.  It provides no information about people having to spend their entire DLA mobility just on getting to day services, families having to drive individual for hours at a time or whatever the outcome of this review will be.

Conclusion

All of this raises concerns that the new policy is already decided and that this consultation was simply to rubber stamp the process.  It as if Glasgow has started with the answer first – close 3 centres when they should have started with an assessment of people’s needs.

 

 

Created on 21 August 2013

On Wednesday 21st August, David Williams, Head of Social Work and Cllr Matt Kerr, lead for Health & Social Care spoke to people with learning disabilities and their families. Before the meeting campaigners wore “Gordon Matheson” masks in protest at the fact that the council leader wouldn’t attend.

Inside the speaker received a rough reception as the worry and stress that people have been living with spilled over.  Families talked about the challenges that their sons and daughters had faced during transition and how they dreaded more disruption.  People with learning disabilities spoke up about how they valued their friendship, the security and the staff that they enjoyed.

Matt Kerr tried to reassure them that anybody who didn’t go to a day centre any more would still get help to “maintain their friendships”.   However according to internal documents seen by LDAS this is likely to amount to no more than a  “regular (possibly monthly)  open  ‘meet and greet event’. On an ongoing basis this could be tasked to the local coordinators when in post.”

David Williams said that the 3 centres had to close in order to release cash to fund new services.  However neither of the speaker thought to mention that the Scottish Government had given them a cash injection of £2 million to help them fund new SDS services.  It is likely that Glasgow Council has chosen to spend this elsewhere.

Much was made of the 9 Local Area Coordinators that were going to be appointed.  However little was said that this would mean that each person would have at most 30 minutes a week with their coordinator and that while some existing LACs did have similar workloads, this has been built up over a long period of time not with effect from April 1 2014.

Overall people came away frustrated and angry – they had made their points but still there was little movement.  Only the offer of Summerston building as the base for a carer’s trust goes some way to meeting the carers plans.  But until people know what their budgets may be this can be little more than an option.

You can hear Sheila, one of the campaigners speaking on the radio before the meeting by clicking here. 

 

Glasgow Day Services Meeting

Created on 14 August 2013

Glasgow City Council has called the meeting to discuss day services in Mitchell Theatre at 7.00 pm on Wednesday 21st August.  Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council has turned down a request that as political head of the council he addresses this event. Day centre users and carers affected by the Labour Group decision to close 3 day centres in Glasgow are appalled that the council leader has such scant regard for the learning disability community in the city and his refusal to meet with the families once again confirms that vulnerable adults are low value citizens on Councillor Matheson’s priority list.

 Please make sure that all day centre families  attend this meeting.

 The campaign is asking supporters to be at the Mitchell Theatre from 6.00 pm with our T-shirts, banner and placards to demonstrate opposition to the day centre closures and the PSP farce.

 Unlike previous events organised by the families campaigning against the day centre closures Glasgow’s elected members have not been made aware of this meeting or invited to attend as observers. 

 

204 family carers and people with learning disabilities attended a meeting in Glasgow on Wednesday 3rd July to ta

audience at meetinglk about the proposed closures of learning disability centres in the city.  In addition to this a number of politicians were in attendance.  People were there to express their

concerns to the new independent chair of the proposed Public Social Partnership, Alexis Jay.

Ms Jay was the former Chief Social Work Inspector and has been asked to step into Glasgow.  She had asked to meet with carers and people with learning disabilities first and this meeting was a chance to do this.  Over 31 people spoke at the meeting, expressing their concerns and worries about the plans.

Many of the people with learning disabilities present spoke at the meeting but others found it too difficult but spoke later to LDAS TV about their thoughts about the closures.  You can see their comments here in this short video – “No Way Jose”.

 

 

Glasgow city wide meeting

Created 25 June 2013

DAY CENTRE CLOSURES

CITY-WIDE MEETING

MITCHELL THEATRE

6 GRANVILLE STREET, GLASGOW G3 7DR

WEDNESDAY 3rd JULY

7.00 – 9.00 PM

Since November 2012 the consultation methods applied to the closure of the three day centres has created a hostile relationship between the 520 families who depend on day centres and Glasgow City Council. For the past 7 months day centre families have unanimously & strongly opposed the Council’s closure plans. The response from elected members is to carry on regardless with little attention being paid to the concerns of elderly carers, ethnic minority service users or those who care for a profoundly disabled family member.

In order to create a constructive way forward from the impasse of the current situation we find ourselves in there needs to be fresh thinking applied with new ideas, vision, aspiration and a firm commitment from all appropriate parties to improve the life chances of the learning disability community in Glasgow.

While families affected by the day centre closures remain committed to our campaign to save these vital services we agreed to meet again with Alexis Jay in attendance.  At that meeting Alexis Jay agreed with the carers present that it would be helpful for her to meet with families to hear their views on services and the role of day centres in their lives and how they will be affected by the proposed closure plans. This city-wide meeting has been called for that purpose. Alexis Jay is a nationally acknowledged expert in all areas of social work practice, management and inspection.

This meeting should be attended by families in all of the 7 day centres as the planned closures will affect all day centres users in some way.

It is also important that carers and others who are concerned about learning disability services in Glasgow are present on 3rd July.  Please make every effort to attend this meeting.

 

Proposal for a 2 year moratorium on the day centre closure proposals

Created on 25 June 2013

At the meeting on Wednesday July 3, the call for a moratorium was passed unanimously by over 200 family carers and service users campaigning to keep their Day Centres open

Since November 2012 the consultation methods applied to the closure of the three day centres has created a hostile relationship between the 520 families who depend on day centres and Glasgow City Council. For the past 7 months day centre families have unanimously & strongly opposed the Council’s closure plans. The response from elected members is to carry on regardless with little attention being paid to the concerns of elderly carers, ethnic minority service users or those who care for a profoundly disabled family member.

In particular, many elderly carers are reaching crisis point the closer we come to actual closure dates. Families that include a profoundly disabled day centre user fear the return to a regime that removes their loved one from the community environment they currently experience in day centre settings and places them in a situation that can only be described as social segregation.

This is a briefing paper that sets out the reasons for the reasonable request from day centre carers for a 2 year moratorium on the current closure plans

The Public Social Partnership (PSP) as set out in the memorandum of understanding produced by Enable Scotland is not a true partnership model as carers hardly merit a mention throughout the 30 page document. It is more accurately described as an agreement between service providers – no more than that.

A new PSP needs to change direction and space needs to be found within a 2 year period for a working group that includes not only day centre users and carers but also academic experts working in the fields of social work and disability. The participation of Mrs. Alexis Jay, as independent convener in a progressive partnership, can provide the impetus for fresh thinking and a positive approach to a range of new ideas – including those put forward from the families directly affected by the current proposals.

In order to create a constructive way forward from the impasse of the current situation we find ourselves in there needs to be fresh thinking applied with new ideas, vision, aspiration and a firm commitment from all appropriate parties to improve the life chances of the learning disability community in Glasgow.

This requires a partnership that has inclusion and equality as core components – that type of relationship is currently unavailable to the city’s learning disability community.

That is why the 520 families affected by the closure plans are calling for Glasgow City Council to agree a 2 year moratorium on the closure decision to include day centres as an option for consideration regarding the future of day service provision in Glasgow. In the first instance this requires the political decision that demonstrates strong and caring local government that genuinely listens to the people. There are a number of obvious benefits from the model suggested by carers:

  1. More intelligent thinking around the day centre estate – consider why the buildings are not open to local communities in the evenings and at weekends – this is an opportunity to maximize community involvement.
  2. In-depth consideration of a Carers Trust that embraces an extended partnership model and includes Glasgow City Council as lead partner  with day centre users, carers, health, education, social work and DWP (employability) working together – requires a properly resourced feasibility study – and the political will to succeed .
  3. An innovative attitude to day centre development should include a more open environment. Where appropriate, for example, open/re-open community cafes to increase local inclusion and provide work experience for the learning disability community.
  4. As above, where appropriate, re-introduce horticulture, arts & crafts, music and other options to seriously take on board the views and aspirations of day centre users.
  5. Encourage the participation of expert organisations including Learning Disability Alliance Scotland (LDAS), PAMIS (profoundly disabled), Down’s Syndrome Scotland (DSS) and others in an advisory capacity moving forwards.
  6. Develop a strategy for day centre users and carers to have easy access to financial advice & support to address the impact of welfare reform that many families will experience.

In order to produce an improved day care service for the learning disability community in Glasgow it requires  a 2 year moratorium  to engage a short-life working group to scope and develop potential outcomes emanating from a fresh approach to partnership working in Glasgow. This would include examination of the feasibility of a Carers Trust and forensic accounting of the economic elements of any proposed changes.

A working group under the leadership of Mrs. Alexis Jay to bring about positive change should include, Glasgow City Council, service users, carers, and day centre staff, third sector partners, Carers Champion, LDAS and expert academic advisers working in the fields of social work and disability. This steering group could report to a broader advisory body within an agreed timeframe and fully utilise the benefits accrued from a 2 year moratorium on the current closure plans.

Cathy Paterson

Evelyn Maciver

Tommy Gorman

 

Created on 21 June 2013

There has been a failure by Glasgow City Council to take Due Regard of its Equality Duties in relation to the decision to close 3 Day Centres for Adults with Learning Disabilities in Glasgow.  Previous work by city council staff identified at least 14 reasons why day centres would be a problem for people with learning disabilities.  But this information was not provided to councillors before they made the closure decision, it seems there has been a deliberate attempt to bury these negative impacts that senior council staff were aware of.

14 Reasons Why Even Glasgow Council Says It’s Wrong To Close Day Centres

1.         Service users with a milder learning disability may be pushed out of all services.

2.         Many community facilities do not have the resources to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities.

3.         People with complex needs will have less opportunity for social interaction.

4.         People with learning disabilities will face prejudice and stigma when they go out to access community-based facilities.

5.         Black and Minority Ethnic service users will face low staff morale, transport, communication and language barriers including prejudice and stigma.

6.         Older BME carers may not ask for help or access social work services.

7.         Service users may not get the right gender of staff to give personal care.

8.         Service users may lose networks of support and their friendships leaving them feeling isolated, vulnerable and discriminated against, especially women from a BME background.

9.         The sexual orientation of people with learning disabilities may not be recognised.

10.       Older people may be left behind in increasingly under-used day services.

11.       A lack of appropriate cultural awareness training could prevent BME service users and carers from having their specific religious and cultural needs met.

12.       There may be increased costs to service users and carers for subsistence and excursions, preventing them from having enough money to meet real needs.

13.       If service users and carers face additional costs, they may find it difficult to manage their finances and may be forced to give up control of them.

14.       New issues about safety of service users in the community with unsupervised staff may emerge.

The reasons published above were produced by Glasgow City Council staff and buried inside an Equality Impact Assessment published on 17th April 2013.    This document was not presented to Councillors before they made their decision to close 3 Day Centres for People with Learning Disabilities in breach of the Council’s Equality Duties.  Council staff are meant to provide information to councillors on what might happen to people from minority groups if a policy is passed.  Vital information was withheld about Glasgow’s Day Centres which could have resulted in the centres being kept open.