Adults with Learning Disabilities: National and Local Strategies

Locally, the 2010 NHS Lewisham document, “Learning disabilities performance and self assessment framework: top targets, key objectives and progress criteria 2010”, addresses the physical health needs of people with learning disability. The document provides a framework for progress, outlining issues to be addressed as well measures and suggested evidence of progress towards the objectives. Key objective 2 is that “PCTs are working closely with local Partnership Boards and statutory and other partners, to address the health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities”

Nationally, UK legislation underpins the delivery of health care for people with learning disabilities, including:

The Disability Discrimination Act (1996)
This relates to provision of equal treatment. It includes a duty to promote equality for disabled people and take steps to take account of disabled persons’ disabilities even where that involves treating them more favourably than others. Since 1999 providers have been required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the way that services are delivered in order to meet the needs of disabled users.

The Mental Capacity Act (2007)
This describes treatment for people who lack capacity. The Act states that a person must be assumed to have capacity to make a decision regarding his or her care or treatment unless proved otherwise. The aim is to protect people with learning disabilities and other conditions associated with cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease, by providing guidelines for carers and professionals about who can take decisions in which situations. The Act requires ‘all practicable steps’ to present information in a way that is appropriate to the person’s circumstances.

The Carers Act (1995)
This gives people who provide ‘substantial care on a regular basis’ the right to request an assessment of their needs from social services. A ‘New Deal for Carers’ was announced in 2007. This included additional monies for councils to provide emergency cover for carers, the development of a helpline and an expert carers’ programme.






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