Getting the vote
Getting it right for people with learning disabilities
Treat Me Right! started out providing learning disability training for healthcare staff in an NHS Trust, but has since snowballed, driven forward in part by a man with Down’s syndrome. Editor Dan Parton reports:
When John Keavney, who has Down’s syndrome, collapsed at his home with breathing difficulties in 2009, he was rushed to hospital. He remained there for four weeks and found his experience difficult, confusing and sometimes upsetting. But once he recovered, Keavney resolved to put his experiences to good use and improve the situation for other people with learning disabilities who have to go into hospital.
He became an active member of the Treat Me Right! campaign, and now delivers training to health professionals – from doctors and nurses to midwives, students and junior doctors – and much more at his local NHS Trust in Ealing. As part of the Treat Me Right! team, Keavney works alongside Elsa Morris and delivers up to four learning disability awareness courses each month at Ealing Hospital and Ealing Community Health Services, to groups of between six and 15 people. He talks about his experiences and how healthcare professionals can improve their treatment of people with learning disabilities.
Power to the people
From service user to citizen – where to next for people with learning disabilities? Alex McClimens and Darren Lee investigate:
To begin, here’s a quick quiz. What links the following cities: Havana, 1959; Paris, 1789; Saigon, 1975; Prague, 1968? They were all sites of revolutionary uprisings where the incumbent leadership was overthrown by a mix of military and people power. Such things don’t just happen in foreign countries as we in the UK too have had our share of revolutionary unrest, although this happened a long time ago.
The thread that links these acts of rebellion was that the majority of the population felt that their political leaders were ignoring the rights of the ordinary citizen. In established Western democracies this situation is now managed by the electoral system that gives citizens the right to vote political parties in or out of government.
Diversion signs-liaison and diversion services
Liaison and diversion and forensic learning disability services can make a big difference to whether a person offends again – but services are patchy across the country and improvement is needed. Editor Dan Parton reports:
When Home Secretary Theresa May delivered a speech in July at an event hosted by the Care not Custody Coalition, she reaffirmed the government’s commitment to liaison and diversion services in the criminal justice system for people with mental health issues or learning disabilities. This, allied to £25 million in funding for liaison and diversion that was announced in January, points to a brighter future for the services.
Liaison and diversion – which seeks to identify, provide support for and, where appropriate, divert people with mental ill health or learning disabilities away from criminal justice settings such as police stations and magistrates’ courts and into specialist treatment or social care services – has had political support for some years, going back to the previous Labour administration. Yet progress in developing a national service has been frustratingly slow.