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Saturday 14 December 2019
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News in learning disabilities January to March 2014

This is BILD's News service for those in our community. See the latest news that affects people with learning disabilities, their families and those who work to support them.


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19 March: Justice for LB campaign launch 107 Days campaign 
Connor Sparrowhawk, nicknamed LB, Laughing Boy, drowned in a bath in a residential unit last year. A death that a subsequent independent report said was 'preventable'. His mother's fight to expose the truth is documented in extracts from her blog published in The Guardian this week >  Why did Connor Sparrowhawk die in a specialist NHS unit? An overview article published in The Guardian >

The Justice for LB campaign has organised 107 days of action, to coincide with the time that LB spent in the assessment and treatment unit last year. They want as many people as possible to get involved. The activity started on 19 March, a year to the day that LB was admitted to the unit. They will compile a record of all actions taken during that period, large and small, individual or collective. More >

18 March: ‘Unfit’ directors to be barred from running social care organisations
The government has set out provisions to enable the Care Quality Commission to bar ‘unfit’ directors from running social care organisations. From October, the CQC would be able to prevent providers from registering or sanction registered organisations if they employed a board member deemed unfit by the regulator, under the plans set out in draft regulations published for consultation. More >

18 March: People with disabilities in care facilities are being 'deprived of liberty', says supreme court
Lady Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court, in passing judgement in the important, 'P' case, said disability did not entitle the state to deny people with disabilities their human rights, but placed a duty on the state to cater for people with disabilities.

14 Mar: Charities call for police training on 'mate crime'
Every police force in the UK should be trained to spot the signs of "mate crimes", according to charities. The Association for Real Change believes thousands of people with learning difficulties have been befriended by abusers. Campaigners say in many cases, incidents reported to police aren't properly dealt with. More >

14 Mar: Charter tackles learning disability health inequalities
A charter has been launched for social care providers which aims to tackle the health inequalities that people with learning disabilities often face. The Health Charter for Providers Supporting People with Learning Disabilities is designed to support social care providers to improve the health and wellbeing of people with learning disabilities, thus improving their quality of life generally. More >

13 Mar: New advice on making personal health budgets work
Giving people with learning disabilities and autism control of NHS and other government money could lead to better support and help avoid poor quality and inappropriate care, according to ‘Personal Health Budgets: including people with learning disabilities’, a new report commissioned by the Think Local Act Personal Partnership. More >

13 Mar: Law to offer greater protection to vulnerable children
The new Children and Families Act - given royal assent this week - will mean changes to the law to give greater protection to vulnerable children, better support for children whose parents are separating, a new system to help children with SEN and disabilities, and help for parents to balance work and family life. More >

13 Mar: Council to farm out social care services due to cuts
Wolverhampton City Council is planning to outsource its social care services to external providers in a bid to save £123m in the next five years. 25 adults’ and children’s services are set to be handed over to private or voluntary sector providers. Affected services include residential homes for children and older people and learning disability day services. More >

13 Mar: The Mental Capacity Act is failing, says Lords
Vulnerable adults are being failed by the Act designed to protect and empower them. Social workers, healthcare professionals and others involved in the care of vulnerable adults are not aware of the Mental Capacity Act, and are failing to implement it. That is the key finding of the House of Lords Committee established to scrutinise how the Act is working in practice, as outlined in its report published today. More >

13 Mar: People with disabilities impetus for US teaching hotel
Construction is to begin on a new hotel in the US where teaching and employing people with disabilities will be just as important as accommodating guests. At least 20% of workers at the Courtyard hotel being built in Muncie, Indiana will be individuals with developmental and other types of disabilities. These employees will be working in all types of positions, including management. More >

13 Mar: Couple stole from people with learning disabilities 
A couple convicted of stealing from people with learning disabilities will face prison sentences. Peter and Alison Childs took the disability living allowance and cold weather payments paid out to people with learning disabilities who were supposed to be assisted by Lincoln and District Mencap, where they both worked. More >

10 Mar: Call for evidence: behaviour that challenges
NICE has commissioned The Royal College of Psychiatrists to develop a guideline regarding “Challenging behaviour and learning disabilities: prevention and interventions for people with learning disabilities whose behaviour challenges.” Evidence submissions must be emailed by 11 April. More >

7 Mar:
 Southern Health NHS trust criticised for more failings 

Management and care failings have been uncovered at a learning disability care home run by the NHS trust responsible for the unit where an 18-year-old man died preventably. The CQC is taking enforcement action against Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust after an inspection of the home in Bicester, Oxfordshire, found significant failings in quality monitoring. More >

5 Mar: Report calls for fair treatment of children with SEN
Fair treatment for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) is being called for by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) in a new report. SEN: Preparing for the Future urges that children with SEN, and their families, must be treated fairly and receive the support to which they are entitled. More >

4 Mar: Rape effectively “decriminalised”, says report
Rape of women with learning difficulties, has effectively been “decriminalised”, according to a research academic employed by the country’s largest police force. According to the research of Professor Betsy Stanko, the Metropolitan Police’s assistant director of planning, people with learning difficulties were 67% less likely to have their case referred to the police for prosecution. More >

27 Feb: Death of 18-year-old was preventable, finds inquiry
The death of an 18-year-old man in a failing NHS learning disability unit was preventable and followed significant failings in his care, an inquiry has found. Connor Sparrowhawk died last July after being found submerged in a bath following an epileptic seizure at the short-term assessment and treatment team unit run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. More >

27 Feb: Inspectors to examine Dols for human rights breaches
Inspectors are to conduct a national review into the use of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (Dols) in Wales over concerns that significant local variations in caseloads entail a ‘neglect of human rights’. The review, which will be based on inspections of councils, health boards and care homes, will examine why the number of Dols cases varies so significantly between areas. More >

21 Feb: Atos seeks early exit from fit-to-work tests contract
Atos has confirmed it is seeking to end its government contract to assess whether benefits claimants are fit to work. Atos pledged to carry on undertaking the tests until a new company was in a position to take over but the government said that standards at Atos had declined unacceptably. More >

18 Feb: 'Victory for parent carers' as Government amends bill
The government has announced an amendment to the Children and Families Bill which will strengthen the rights of parents who care for children with a disability or life-limiting illness. The amendment means that local authorities would have a duty to promote the wellbeing of parent carers when they assess the needs of families with children with a disability under 18 years old. More >

17 Feb:
Which autism interventions work best?
A new federally-funded review of thousands of studies has found that there are more than two dozen autism interventions worthy of being called “evidence-based.” US researchers went over 29,000 studies published in peer-reviewed journals from 1990-2011 that tested various behavioral, developmental or educational interventions for autism to identify the most meaningful approaches for those with the condition from birth through age 22. More >

17 Feb:
People First England project
Plans to set up a new user-led organisation for people with learning difficulties in England have been described by an existing national group as “damaging” to the self-advocacy movement. Gary Bourlet and Kaliya Franklin told of plans to set up People First England as a new umbrella organisation for self-advocacy groups, but this has caused confusion amongst existing group People First (Self Advocacy). More >

17 Feb: Website and guidance launched to combat abuse
New resources designed to help prevent cruelty, harassment and abuse against people with learning disabilities have been launched. Action Against Cruelty is a new website that brings together multi-agency guidance on all aspects of the problem from definitions, detection, prevention and safeguarding to criminal and civil proceedings and aftercare. More >

17 Feb:
Man jailed for abuse of girl with a learning disability

A rapist who subjected a girl with a learning disability to a prolonged ordeal of abuse has been jailed for ten years. A judge condemned Steven Keogh's sex offending as "crimes of unspeakable wickedness". The judge told Keogh he would be placed on the sex offenders' register indefinitely. More >

14 Feb: Action against bullying
Kevin Healey wants to put a stop to people with autism being victims of bullying and has launched the Anti Bullying Global Campaign. This campaign calls to change the law on bullying both nationally and internationally, by calling on MEPs to sign a Written Declaration on protection of people with autism from bullying.  More >

12 Feb: Confidential Inquiry releases film of findings
The Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities have released a film of their findings.The film has been made with Misfits Theatre Group and presents the findings of the Confidential Inquiry through the stories of John, Bill, Karen and Emily. Watch the film >

12 Feb: "Need to Know" review series for local government
What Councils Need to Know about People with Learning Disabilities', the first Local Government Knowledge Navigator Evidence Review, is available to download now. The new ‘Need to Know' review series will provide local government with accessible, relevant and reliable knowledge, coupled with the necessary ‘navigation' aids to route people to what is available to meet these requirements. More >

12 Feb: London boroughs must up social care pay
The London Assembly has called on the capital’s boroughs to do more to tackle low-pay in social care. A report by the assembly’s Economy Committee says that increasing the pay of social care workers is vital if the ‘London Living Wage’ becoming “the norm” by 2020 is to be achieved. More >

12 Feb:
New clinically related challenging behaviour videos

NHS Protect has launched of a series of training videos to accompany the recently published  guidance ‘Meeting needs and reducing distress: Guidance on the prevention and management of clinically related challenging behaviour in NHS settings’. The videos, demonstrate the importance of staff-patient relationships and using positive engagement, compassion, empathy and communication techniques. Download the videos >

11 Feb: Viola learns to walk, talk & dance by copying her twin
A little girl with Down’s syndrome has learnt to swim, sing and dance, by copying her twin sister. Viola Fuller, six, has Down’s syndrome, but her twin sister, Nigella, does not. The girls’ proud parents say Viola is thriving - Mrs Fuller said: “Because Viola could watch Nigella reach all these milestones, and then copy her, she has been able to reach them too.” More >

11 Feb: CQC appoints whistleblowing advisor
Paediatrician Dr Kim Holt has been appointed by the CQC as a professional advisor providing advice on issues relating to whistleblowing. Dr Holt began her new role by leading a workshop with people who have experience of whistleblowing. The feedback will help CQC to develop its new approach to regulating health and adult social care services. Download CQC's guide on whistleblowing >

11 Feb: Welsh social services need to improve partnerships
Welsh social services need to do more to improve the education of children in care and cement partnership, according to the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW). The 2012/13 annual report of chief inspector Imelda Richardson says that while permanency planning for looked-after children had “stabilised”, the schooling of children in care remained an issue. More >

11 Feb:
Thinking Skills for offenders with learning disabilities

With funding from the DoH the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities has tested adapting the delivery of the Thinking Skills Programme to suit the needs of prisoners with IQs below 80. The Thinking Skills Programme is used by the National Offender Management Service to support prisoners and those on probation to address their self-control and problem solving skills, and to develop positive relationships.
Download the Thinking Skills Evaluation Report >
Download the Thinking Skills Project Report >

10 Feb: Dorset Credit Union will bank Community Credits
The first Dorset Credit Union has become the latest organisation to support a new volunteering scheme for the county. The Credit Union has offered to act as the bank for the Community Credits Scheme. Manager Rachel Bailey said: “It’s a great way to get people with learning difficulties to learn new skills and be rewarded with credits which they can spend on things they want.” More >

10 Feb: £30 million pledged for new SEN champions
More than 1,800 champions will be on hand from this September to help parents navigate the new special educational needs process following a £30 million funding boost, Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson has announced. More >

6 Feb: Rail service to improve for people with disabilities
People with learning disabilities can expect better service on trains after Southern Railway signed up to an improvement scheme. Southern Railway was the latest firm to join the Thumbs Up scheme and has signed a pledge which is made up of 10 things to make their services better. More >

6 Feb
Life-saving care denied due to man's learning disability

A patient who died days after he was denied hospital care because he had a learning disability has sparked a major review of NHS services in Lothian. The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland said the man was the victim of discrimination after a Royal Infirmary consultant declined to carry out an in-depth medical investigation because he assumed it would have caused the patient distress or led to a “deterioration of his behaviour”. More >

4 Feb: Campaigning to improve facilities 
A campaign to make Bournemouth more accessible for people with disabilities has been stepped up to help connect the community and boost tourism. Bournemouth People First, an advocacy group run by and for people with learning disabilities, is raising awareness about accessible toilet provision in the town centre and seafront. More >

4 Feb:
Social workers' support is ‘essential’ for moving into work
Care managers have a crucial role in raising the possibility of employment as a realistic goal for people with learning disabilities during assessments and support planning, said the evaluation of the Department of Health’s Jobs First Scheme. More >

4 Feb: Project set to help offenders with learning difficulties
Probation staff in Bradford have linked up with a charity in a pilot project to help offenders with learning difficulties. Billy Devenport, at Bradford Probation said: “We have been working with Choice Advocacy as part of a pilot project for more than a year. The charity provides expert help so that offenders with learning disabilities can access the support they need.” More >

29 Jan: Theatre show for teenagers with PMLD to go on tour
A theatre show aimed at teenagers with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) is to go on a nationwide tour in the coming months. The show, Tunnels, has been designed to play to small audiences of people with PMLD and their companions. It is a multi-sensory production that fuses live music, sign and movement.More >

29 Jan: Post-natal test to diagnose intellectual disabilities
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized a new tool which can detect chromosomal variations that may be responsible for a child’s developmental delay or intellectual disability. Based on a blood sample, the test can analyze the entire genome at one time and detect large and small chromosomal changes. More >

29 Jan: Funding for accessible resources on Thinking Ahead
The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities have received funding to create accessible resources on Thinking Ahead for people with learning disabilities. They’ll be working with advocacy groups in the coming year to produce these. The Thinking Ahead guide helps families to think about and plan for the future. More >

29 Jan:
Prosecution without warning for serious care failings

The CQC would be able to prosecute providers without warning for the most serious care failings under proposals issued for consultation by government. Under the proposed draft regulations, the existing 16 essential standards of quality and safety would be replaced by 11 “fundamental standards” against which the CQC would measure providers. More >

23 Jan: Why is the disabled pound purple?
The potential spending power of disabled people is being referred to as the purple pound. Purple is now being used by campaigners, charities and the government to refer to the spending power of disabled people - but the colour doesn't seem to have any symbolic significance. Why was it chosen? More >

23 Jan: Mental health: priorities for change 
The Department of Health has published Closing the Gap: priorities for essential change in mental health. The document sets out 25 priorities for change and details how changes in local service planning and delivery will make a difference to the lives of people with mental health problems in the next 2 or 3 years. More > 

22 Jan: Toolkit unpicks complicated data for disability groups
Small disability groups could boost their chances of getting funding and improve their services thanks to new government help to tap into a goldmine of data. The ‘Community Data Toolkit’ provides everything disability groups need to know about how to analyse and interpret data. More > 

20 Jan: Charity wins grant to help young people find work
Action for Kids  has been awarded a £100,000 grant from the City Bridge Trust to help young people with learning difficulties find paid work. It will use the funding to provide employment coaching for youngsters with learning disabilities. More >

17 Jan: Medway pilot scheme tackles disability hate crime
A pilot scheme to combat disability hate crime is being launched in Medway. GPs will be encouraged to monitor the welfare of patients with learning disabilities as part of the project.There will also be more training for police, transport workers and carers, and awareness campaigns to target children and young people who were often the perpetrators of abuse. More >

17 Jan: Petition to remove 'isolation' rooms from schools
This petition asks instead for more specialised training for teachers who are working with children with autism to equip them with more skills so that they don't resort to using isolation rooms. Sign the petition >

17 Jan: Men guilty of attacking girl with learning disability

Two men and three teenage boys have been found guilty of a series of rapes and sexual assaults on young girls. One of the group's victims, referred to in court as Victim A, was a 13-year-old girl with a severe learning disability. More >

17 Jan: Mental health provider failed to support staff

A mental health provider failed to adequately support frontline staff at a service that saw a “significant increase” in incidents on wards, including cases of violence towards staff, the Care Quality Commission has found. More >

14 Jan: Children with autism locked in isolation rooms
Autistic children as young as eight years old are being locked in so-called ‘withdrawal rooms’ for hours without supervision, it has been revealed. Parents have blamed insufficient training for teachers and a lack of cohesive national regulation for the incidents. More >

13 Jan: Bedroom tax loophole could exempt 40,000
Thousands of people have been wrongly identified as liable for the bedroom tax, including some who now face eviction or have been forced to move to a smaller property, as a result of an error by Department of Work and Pensions. Housing experts believe as many as 40,000 people could be affected by the mistake. More >

13 Jan: Education gap remains for students in China
Children with intellectual disabilities still face barriers in enrolling at mainstream Chinese schools despite an inclusive education program taking effect last year. Despite the Chinese government taking concerted action to protect disability rights, parents of children with intellectual disabilities still struggle to enrol their kids at mainstream schools. More >

10 Jan: More social care support for children

Councils will soon have a legal duty to deliver children with learning disabilities' social care needs after an amendment to the Children and Families Bill. The amended bill will ensure assessed social care support needs, outlined in the new Education, Health and Care Plan, are legally enforceable from September 2014.
More >

9 Jan: Winterbourne JIP engagement reference group
The Winterbourne Joint Improvement Programme (JIP) has been set up to help make the changes to services so that people with learning disabilities get good safe support. To make sure their work is shaped by people who know about the important parts of the work they are setting up an Engagement Reference Group. More >

6 Jan:
Short-term planning increases cost of adult social care
A new study into social care for adults with learning disabilities has been conducted by learning disability charity, FitzRoy. The study reveals the extent of short term planning in social care decision-making, that cost is the main driver for this, and the long-term implications including higher care costs and a negative impact on quality of life.More >

3 Jan:
Behaviour change: individual approaches

New NICE guidance makes recommendations on individual-level interventions aimed at changing health-damaging behaviours among people aged 16 or over. It includes a range of approaches, from single interventions delivered as the opportunity arises to planned, high-intensity interventions that may take place over a number of sessions. More >

3 Jan: Making health and social care information accessible
NHS England has begun a programme of work to develop and implement an Information Standard for accessible information. This guidance will tell organisations how they should ensure that patients with disabilities, service users and carers, receive information in ways that they can understand. More >

3 Jan:
Chief Executive of Changing Our Lives, awarded MBE
Jayne Leeson has been awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Years Honours List. Jayne founded the charity Changing Our Lives in 2002, with a group of self-advocates with learning disabilities and the basic aim of ensuring people with learning disabilities lead valued independent lives in the community. More >

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