Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

New toolkit to better support homeless people with learning disabilities

Homeless Link, a charity that supports homeless people, has developed a new toolkit to enable homelessness services to better recognise and support people with learning disabilities.

The toolkit aims to enable people with learning disabilities to move towards stable housing and provide them with opportunities to thrive.

Clinical Psychologist Dr Anna Tickle helped to develop the toolkit after realising that many people with learning disabilities who find themselves within homelessness services do not have their needs recognised.

This is often because they do not have a learning disability diagnosis. Without a diagnosis, it can be much more difficult to access the appropriate support.

What does the toolkit cover?

The toolkit helps professionals working with homeless people to recognise when someone has a learning disability. It notes that this is not always possible without screening tools, as homeless people with a learning disability have a ‘cloak of competence’, masking poor judgement and decision-making abilities.

It explains how to identify whether someone has a learning disability using the Learning Disability Screening Questionnaire (LDSQ) for adults, and the Child and Adolescent Intellectual Disability Screening Questionnaire (CAIDS-Q) for young people. In addition, it points professionals towards NHS services where necessary.

The toolkit also explains how to provide reasonable adjustments for people who have (or are thought to have) a learning disability. Namely, it explains how to effectively communicate with the individual, such as using quieter spaces, allowing the person time to think and respond, keeping meetings short and offering breaks during longer discussions.

Finally, the kit explains some basic principles of the Care Act (2014), the Housing Act (1996) and the Mental Capacity Act (2005). These pieces of legislation are designed to protect vulnerable people, and mean that local authorities have a duty of care to certain groups.

Local authorities must therefore provide or arrange care and support for people in the local area, including ensuring access to housing (with vulnerable and disabled people having priority access) and safeguarding to prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect.

Learning disability and homelessness webinar

Dr Tickle says she “hopes the toolkit helps to raise awareness of the steps everybody in homelessness services can take to recognise and better support those with learning disabilities to move towards stable housing and opportunities to thrive.”

Homeless Link are also hosting a free webinar on learning disabilities and homelessness on 5th October at 11am.

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