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

Human rights will be breached if social care system left unchanged, report states

Disability charities are urging the government not to leave disabled people behind after a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighted grave concerns about the care of people with a learning disability and autistic people.

The CQC’s annual assessment of the state of health and social care in England found that the health and care system is gridlocked and unable to operate effectively.

This has meant that people are often unable to access care when they need it, putting people at risk of harm and poor outcomes.

More specifically, the CQC highlighted concerns about the care of autistic people and people with a learning disability, as inspections have continued to find issues with culture, leadership, and a lack of genuine engagement with people who use these services.

A long-term plan that addresses the root causes behind the problems in social care

In light of these findings, the CQC is calling on the government to devise a long-term plan that addresses the root causes behind the “immediate and obvious problems”.

This includes addressing the work force shortages and shaping a more flexible workforce model that will help local systems meet the needs of people.

In adult social care, workforce shortages are particularly acute, and the CQC say there needs to be increased funding and support for ICSs so they can own and deliver a properly funded workforce plan that recognises the adult social care workforce crisis as a national issue and ensures that pay and rewards attract and retain staff.

To address the poor standard of care for people with a learning disability and autistic people, the CQC say that, next year, their ongoing programme of work focusing on services for people with a learning disability and autistic people will be extended to residential mental health settings.

“Don’t turn your back on people with a learning disability”

Disability charities are now calling on the government to ensure it provides proper financial support for the social care sector so that people with disabilities receive the timely care they need and deserve.

Edel Harris OBE, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said: “Today’s CQC report shows a deluge of unmet need, with thousands of disabled people and their families bearing the brunt of reduced access to support and an understaffed, undervalued social care workforce.

“People with a learning disability should be actively involved in decisions affecting their own care but instead, they’re left waiting and as a result are at increased risk of harm and are experiencing poorer quality care.

“We need more funding from government to deal with these pressures, to improve access to timely care and support and address the recruitment and retention crisis in the social care workforce.

“Our message to the next Prime Minister is simple; don’t turn your back on people with a learning disability.”

“Profound consequences” for autistic people who do not get the right support

The National Autistic Society is warning that unless things change, the current social care system will lead to breaches of autistic people’s human rights.

Tim Nicholls, Head of Influencing and Research at the National Autistic Society, said: “Today’s report is extremely worrying, but sadly nothing new – we’ve been aware of the dire state of the health and social care systems for years, and the profound consequences for autistic people who are not getting the right support.

“In the past month alone, we’ve seen two shocking examples of autistic people being stuck in mental health hospitals, at the Edenfield Centre and Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, and the devastating impact for them and their families. This cannot be allowed to continue.

“Government must reform mental health law as soon as possible and keep the commitments it set out in the Autism Strategy. We also need urgent and significant funding for community mental health services and the social care system, so that autistic people get the right support and don’t reach crisis point in the first place.”

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