Alison Giraud-Saunders, Co-Director at the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities:
"Valuing People Now (2009) is a three year cross-Government strategy for people with learning disabilities, which built on the work started by ‘Valuing People’ (2001). Its key purpose was to say that ‘all people with a learning disability are people first with the right to lead their lives like any other’ and to promote action to make this happen.
Alongside ‘Valuing People Now’ was a report called an ‘Equality Impact Assessment’. This looked at the experiences of different groups and it stated that things were still not fair for everyone despite the strategy set out in ‘Valuing People Now’.
We were asked by the Office of the National Co-Directors for Learning Disabilities to look at published reports, articles and electronic forums to see whether things were getting better for certain groups of people with learning disabilities, compared to all people with learning disabilities. We were also asked to look at what was happening in relation to helping people with learning disabilities develop friendships and relationships.
With the current emphasis on personalisation and citizenship there is a lot more that needs to happen to enable people with learning disabilities and their families, with a range of diversity and needs, to engage, feel empowered and receive the services and support they need.
Our Equality Scoping Study found that some areas have seen improvement, but more needs to be done to ensure that all people with learning disabilities have better chances. For example:
Age: There seems to be more awareness of the needs of older people and there have been some good projects. However, the growing number of older people with learning disabilities is forcing some councils to confront the differences between what is on offer to this group as compared with older people generally. We may not like the results. Will the Equality Act help us to argue that services should not lower their aspirations for older people?
Race, ethnicity and culture: There are some good examples of race equality being taken seriously by services, and of people with learning disabilities being included by organisations that focus on race equality. Reports of individual families' lives still suggest, however, that disabled people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic families experience a 'double disadvantage'.
Sexuality and sexual orientation: Awareness and opportunities seem to be improving, but many people with learning disabilities still have few opportunities and limited support to express their sexuality, and acceptance of people who are lesbian, gay, bi or transgender may be lagging behind for these groups. We welcome the series of reports available through the 'Improving Health and Lives' Learning Disability Observatory (). These are building up a better picture of the numbers of people with learning disabilities in England and the services they use. We hope that the Observatory will repeat the survey of people with learning disabilities that was done in 2003/04: we really need this to find out whether people's lives are changing for the better or not.
We welcome the series of reports available through the Improving Health and Lives Learning Disability Observatory. These are building up a better picture of the numbers of people with learning disabilities in England and the services they use. We hope that the Observatory will repeat the survey of people with learning disabilities that was done in 2003/04: we really need this to find out whether people's lives are changing for the better or not."
Read the full Report
We always welcome hearing your thoughts on topics raised by the Foundation.
Have you seen any improvements/ deterioration to the levels of equality experienced by different groups of people with learning disabilities?
19 August 2011