The needs of older people with a learning disability and behaviours that challenge others must be given greater priority in social care policy to avoid inappropriate home placements, according to new research.
The rapid scoping review, published in the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, found that older people with a learning disability need consistent social work support, suitable accommodation as well as timely access to quality healthcare in order to avoid unwanted/inappropriate transitions at points of crisis.
Research suggests that behaviours that challenge others may prompt the need for them to move to new homes. A substantial body of evidence shows that these transitions frequently occur in unplanned and/or crisis circumstances.
The death of a family member, particularly the main caregiver, can also trigger complicated grieving and the need for crisis intervention.
Planning ahead for older people with a learning disability
Many older people with a learning disability are not known to health or social services and the known proportion falls as people age. This is likely to further exacerbate the crisis nature of transition from the family home.
Increased longevity is heavily implicated in the predicted rise of 30% in people with a learning disability aged over 50 years requiring social care services in England over the period 2012–2030.
A lack of locally relevant resources in the form of, for example, written guides, to help decision-making of older people with a learning disability and behaviours that challenge others, their families and care professionals is an important gap too, particularly given the increase in life expectancy for this group.
The researchers concluded that more research is needed to assess the types of services that this population can and do access as they age, the quality of those services, and the extent to which local commissioners are planning ahead for people with a learning disability and behaviours that challenge others.