ENABLE Scotland has launched a new campaign which aims to get people with learning disabilities out of inpatient units and into the community, where they can live closer to home.
#MyOwnFrontDoor aims to give people with learning disabilities the right to live in a home and community of their choosing. The campaign draws attention to the fact that more than 1,000 adults with learning disabilities in Scotland are living ‘out of area’, and a further 67 people are living in hospital, with roughly one fifth (22%) trapped there more than 10 years.
ENABLE Scotland says that forcing people with learning disabilities to live far away from home is a “human rights scandal” which perpetuates a “level of discrimination that we do not expect and would not expect other people in society to bear”.
The campaign is now calling for care providers to put immediate plans in place to ensure that all people in delayed discharge or who have been displaced ‘out of area’ are supported to return to live close to home, or where they want to live, by 2023.
“Anyone can live anywhere with the right support”
The charity currently supports roughly 6,000 people to live independently across Scotland, including some people who were previously living in hospital or other institutional settings for many years, or who have been fighting for their rights to live closer to their families.
Launching the campaign, John Feehan, an adult who has a learning disability and member of ENABLE Scotland, said:
“It can be so hard to speak up for yourself when you have a learning disability. It is even harder to make people listen. That is why I am speaking out. It makes me so angry that other people who have a learning disability are stuck in hospital, or being forced to live far away from their families. This has been going on for too long now.
“Some people think that people who have a learning disability are not able to live in local communities like everyone else. They think that that it is easier for them to be locked away in hospital, or to live with lots of other people who have a learning disability. That isn’t true. It is only because the right support is not there – it’s not the person’s fault. Anyone can live anywhere with the right support. If they don’t want to be where they are, people need help to get back to live close to their families or to get out of hospital – right now.”
Five key steps that public bodies must now take
A new campaign report from the charity My Own Front Door proposes five key steps that public bodies must take now to unlock the right to an own front door for people who have a learning disability:
Close all Assessment and Treatment Unit (ATU) beds and end the practice of Scottish citizens being sent out of the country.
Immediately implement a Community First principle for the commissioning of support for all adults and children who have a learning disability in Scotland – ending the commissioning of multi bed units.
Invest nationally in a Specialist Provider Network to improve local support in every area in Scotland.
Maintain a national at-risk register and ensure that everyone identified on this has a plan by 2023 to come home to the community of their choice.
Create a national Community Living Panel to ensure oversight and accountability of decision making about individual placements.
Jan Savage, Director of ENABLE Scotland, said: “We are determined that this campaign will start a movement for change as each and every one of us stand up for the human rights of all people with learning disabilities in 2022.
“The keys to unlocking their own front door are in our hands.”