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'Homes not hospitals’ for people with learning disability

Radical plan will see a 50% cut in inpatient beds

Mark Gould

Friday, 30 October 2015

After more than a decade of promises to end the institutionalised care of hundreds of people with learning disability, the government has today announced a radical programme which will see patients moved out of hospitals so that they can lead more independent lives

The move comes in response to the abuse scandal exposed at the Winterbourne View care home where patients were subjected to a regime of cruelty and callous indifference.

Calderstones hospital near Clitheroe, Lancashire, will close along with up to half the 2,600 hospital beds in the NHS and private sectors that are being used for learning disabled people. Instead money will be used to design bespoke care plans for people in the community. 

The plans have been developed with significant contribution and "constructive challenge" from people with learning disabilities and/or autism, their families and carers, and a range of commissioners, providers, voluntary sector and representative groups.

Local housing will be designed to meets the specific needs of this group of people, such as schemes where people have their own home but ready access to on-site support staff.

There will be a "rapid and ambitious" expansion of the use of personal budgets, enabling people and their families to plan their own care, beyond those who already have a legal right to them.

People will also have access to a local "care and support navigator" or key worker, and there will be greater investment in advocacy services run by local charities and voluntary organisations so that people and their families can access independent support and advice.

Local councils and the NHS will work together, sharing budgets to deliver better and more co-ordinated services – 49 new local Transforming Care Partnerships will work with people with lived experience of these services, families, carers and key local stakeholders to agree robust implementation plans by April 2016, and then deliver on them over three years.

A new financial framework will aim to speed up discharges, particularly for those who have been in inpatient care the longest, and make better use of resources so that services can be increased and improved.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “As good and necessary as some inpatient care can be, people with learning disabilities are clear they want to live in homes, not hospitals.

“We’ve seen some progress over the last few years, but now is the moment to grasp the nettle and build the excellent community-based support that will allow people to move out of hospitals.”

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