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News in Learning Disabilities

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.

 

You can also follow BILD on Facebook and Twitter.

JC
30 June 2016: Jamie Clark inspires St Margaret's residents to pick up a bucket and sponge and clean street signs


When Jamie Clark noticed that the street sign where he lives in Collingwood Road was looking a bit green and grubby he decided to do something about it. Armed with a mop and bucket Jamie went to work scrubbing it clean, but he didn't stop there. He decided to set a "street sign challenge" calling others to join him in cleaning all the signs in the village.  More >

30 June 2016: Police launch investigation at Somerset centre for people with autism

Police have launched an investigation following allegations concerning the welfare of vulnerable residents at a leading specialist centre for people with autism in Somerset. The National Autistic Society, which runs Somerset Court, alerted the police and other authorities after concerns were raised about people at one of the bungalows within the complex, Mendip House.  More >


29 June 2016: 
Half of children excluded from Aberdeen schools have additional support needs

An education expert fears Aberdeen will be left with a “lost generation” of youngsters because the number of additional support needs teachers in city classrooms has been slashed.

Scottish Children’s Services Coalition statistics show the local authority has lost more specialist staff than any other in Scotland – with the total falling from 191 in 2007 to 115 now. And figures obtained under freedom of information legislation have revealed that of the 408 pupils excluded from schools in the city in the last academic year, 201 were identified as having additional support needs.  More >

28 June 2016: UK breach international human rights

The United Nations has confirmed that the UK's austerity policies breach the UK’s international human rights obligations.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has expressed “serious concern” about the impact of regressive policies on the enjoyment of economic and social rights in a damning report on the UK.  More >

ruth

20 June 2016: Learning Disability professionals awarded at Queen's Birthday Honours 2016

Learning disability professionals have been awarded at the Queen's Birthday Honours 2016. Among the official honours are:

Ruth Norway OBE (pictured above), Professor of Learning Disability Nursing at the University of South Wales, Lead of the Unit for Development in Intellectual Disabilities  More >

Pauline Watts OBE, Lead Nurse for Quality, Mental Health, Learning Disability and Dementia with Public Health England  
More >

Robyn Dalby-Stockwell MBE, Learning difficulties teacher  More >

Gweneth Moulster OBE, Co-chair, UK Nurse Consultants in Learning Disability Network. More > 

Read the full list of honours > 

20 June 2016: 'Restraint use on child prisoners doubles'

Children held in in England and Wales are twice as likely to have force used against them by staff than they were five years ago, research suggests.

A report by the Howard League for Penal Reform charity also suggested some children were being put in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. The report identified that children, classified as 10 to 17-year-olds, had suffered 4,350 injuries over the last five years as a result of being restrained.  More >

20 June 2016: Consultation launches on plans to cut adult social care to save £1.5m

A consultation on plans to cut the cost of adult social care to save the county council £1.5 million has launched.

Members of the public are being asked for their views on Hampshire County Council's proposals, which could affect around 12,000 people in the county and are part of the authority's plans to save £43.1m in adult social care by 2018.  More >

20 June 2016: Only 20% of women with a learning disability attend cervical screening

Women with a learning disability are 45 per cent less likely to attend cervical screening compared to women without a learning disability. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s only charity dedicated to cervical cancer, offer a free resource to enable carers to start conversations with the women in their care about cervical screening (smear tests).

Made with and featuring real women who have a learning disability ‘The Smear Test Film’ aims to help women make an informed decision about whether to take up their cervical screening invitation and equip carers with relevant information on cervical screening and its role in preventing cervical cancer.  Watch the film >  
View the easy read guide >

love
20 June 2016: Helping children with autism transfer skills from home to school

A University of Manchester-led study is testing whether an intervention with parents and teachers can help children with autism transfer newly acquired social communication skills from home into school.  More >

20 June 2016: "We decided to be together, and that’s our choice. We fell in love"


Ollie and Bryony are engaged. They both have Down’s syndrome, and live together in a supported house in West Sussex. Bryony says, "We decided to be together, and that’s our choice. We fell in love." To celebrate Learning Disability Week (20-26 June), here are some ways that people have found love and friendship through charity programmes.  More >

LD16
20 June 2016: Learning Disability Week celebrates friendships #LDweek16


Learning Disability Week took place from 20 - 26 June 2016. The theme for this year was friendships and relationships. The aim for the week was to raise awareness of the importance of friendships for people with learning disabilities.  More >

17 June 2016: Learning Disability England launch

Learning Disability England has launched; a new membership organisation that aims to strengthen the voice of people with learning disabilities in politics, policy-making and service provision.  More >  Find out what founder Gary Bourlet had to say about the launch, here >

15 June 2016: NHS workers conned £120k out of residents with learning difficulties

Two NHS workers have been jailed after conning £120,000 from adults with learning difficulties over a seven-year period. The pair who were working at Mansfield View Supported Living Accommodation in Sheffield, which provides accommodation for adults with moderate to severe learning disabilities, defrauded at least 24 vulnerable residents – whose money they were supposed to be managing.

The women were jailed for three-and-a-half years each at Sheffield crown court after pleading guilty to false accounting at an earlier hearing.  More >

15 June 2016: Government accused of ducking scrutiny on social work reforms

The government has been accused of treating parliament “with contempt” by trying to drive through its controversial social work reforms without proper scrutiny.             

The claims centre on the government’s decision to use a so-called “skeleton bill” for the reforms. This is because the bill delegates powers to ministers and leaves details for secondary legislation. A House of Lords report warned this approach allows government to pass laws “with greater ease and with less scrutiny."  More >

15 June 2016: Leeds care company fined £190,000 over death of resident in fall

A care provider has been fined £190,000 following the death of a resident with disabilities who broke his neck at a nursing home in West Yorkshire. Care Quality Commission prosecuted Leeds-based St Anne's Community Services after 62-year-old Kevin McNally, who had Down’s syndrome, epilepsy, dementia and a severe learning disability, died at the home last year.

In April 2015 two care workers had gone to Mr McNally's bedroom to help him take a shower using a shower commode chair. The shower chair fell forwards while he was loosely strapped in. Staff attempted to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead in hospital. Jenny Ashworth, prosecuting, told the court that the provider had failed to adequately control the risk of serious injury and the accident was avoidable.  
More >

15 June 2016: Worcester MP Robin Walker urges Government to adapt apprenticeships for people with disabilities

Worcester MP, Robin Walker, wants ministers to investigate the possibility of offering "adapted" apprenticeships to help those with learning difficulties and disabilities. The Conservative also says autistic people would also stand a better chance of getting work and staying in a job if some of the schemes were specifically designed for them.  More >

UN

15 June 2016: "Children with disabilities need more educational support, not mockery"

"A severe learning disability for children may mean that communication, even for parents who have devised ways to decipher their child’s utterances, is difficult. Frustration might lead for them to lash out i.e. hitting or biting parents or siblings and harming themselves by banging their heads repeatedly against a wall. For some families the above might be a feature of daily life.

While a child’s disability is not what defines them, society makes it so by failing to provide them and their families with essential services that will enable them to live their lives more independently", writes English teacher Lola Okolosie.  More >

specsavers

14 June 2016: New UN committee member first with learning disability

Robert Martin has become the first person with an intellectual disability to be elected to serve on the U.N.'s committee dealing with people with disabilities. Martin said he and others with disabilities have shown they can contribute to the implementation of the convention goals. "Now the hard work begins," he told reporters after the vote.  More >

life

14 June 2016: Specsavers practice named first UK autism-friendly opticians 

A Specsavers practice in Glasgow has been named the first autism-friendly opticians in the UK. In order to reduce the difficulty and distress that many autistic people feel during eye exam, the store confirmed introducing changes including weekly quiet times, as well as a ‘chill out’ area, producing a leaflet that explains exactly what happens during an eye exam, and providing autism awareness training for staff.  More >

beth

14 June 2016: Life, Animated trailer: Documentary about an autistic boy who used Disney films to communicate

Life, Animated, the new documentary from Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams which debuted at Sundance earlier this year, recalls how an autistic boy called Owen Suskind used emotive Disney films to begin communicating with his family. In the trailer.  More >

Connor Sparrowhawk

13 June 2016: UNCRC concludes recommendations for UK governments on use of restraint 

Beth Morrison, from Dundee, has led a campaign against the use of physical restraint in schools in Scotland. Her petition to the Scottish Government identified issues which were included in an NGO report to The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in Geneva last year. Following the summit in Geneva last month, the UNCRC has now concluded its observations and recommendations.  More >

10 June 2016: Southern Health Trust accepts responsibility for Connor Sparrrowhawk's death

The Southern Health NHS Trust has finally accepted responsibility for the death of Oxford teenager Connor Sparrowhawk after his family's three-year battle for justice. Southern Health said it was "deeply sorry" the 18-year-old died in its care, and admitted to breaching his human rights.  More >

9 June 2016: Adult social care inquiry launched

The Department of Communities and Local Government s to examine whether the funding available for adult social care is sufficient for local authorities to fulfill their statutory obligations to assess and meet the needs of people requiring care and support. This includes looking at the impact of policies such as the National Living Wage and the two per cent council tax precept.  More >

8 June 2016: HEE responds to review on developing the future care workforce but not enough dealing with learning disability nursing

Health Education England (HEE) has published its response to Shape of Caring review ‘Raising the Bar’, which explored how nurse and care assistant and training could be improved given their expanding and changing roles.  Download the response >

8 June 2016: Sussex Police handcuff, hood and shackle 11 year old girl with disabilities

An 11 year old girl with a neurological disability was handcuffed and restrained with a mesh hood and leg straps while being held in custody, the police watchdog found.

The child was arrested by Sussex Police for minor offences and held for 60 hours without an appropriate adult being called. The watchdog said a number of officers and staff had a case to answer for misconduct.  More >

letter

7 June 2016: Government to face legal challenge over deprivation of liberty safeguards funding

Four councils have launched a legal challenge against the government on the grounds it has failed to provide sufficient funding for the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).

Nottinghamshire, Richmond, Shropshire and Liverpool councils have lodged a judicial review against health secretary Jeremy Hunt, arguing he has created “an unacceptable risk of illegality” by leaving councils without adequate funds to meet their statutory duties to vulnerable service users.  More >

ellen

7 June 2016: Mother’s letter to doctor that said to abort child with Down's Syndrome

“Dear Doctor, A friend recently told me of when her prenatal specialist would see her child during her sonograms, he would comment, “He’s perfect.” Once her son was born with Down's syndrome, she visited that same doctor. He looked at her little boy and said, ‘I told you. He’s perfect.' Her story tore me apart. While I was so grateful for my friend’s experience, it filled me with such sorrow because of what I should have had.

I wish you would have been that doctor.  Instead of support and encouragement, you suggested we terminate our child. I told you her name, and you asked us again if we understood how low our quality of life would be with a child with Down syndrome. You suggested we reconsider our decision to continue the pregnancy. Read the letter >

6 June 2016: Ellen DeGeneres meets the dancing Starbucks barista

Sam is a barista who has autism, and to help him focus, he dances his way through the workday. After a video of his dance moves went viral, Ellen DeGeneres had to meet this inspirational individual and his incredible boss, Chris, in person. "Sam was told he would never be employable, but he was given an incredible opportunity by a Starbucks manager named Chris,"

Sam said that the moment he found out he was hired was the moment his entire world changed. Moreover, Sam and Chris explain that Sam dances behind the counter in order to control his body and stay focused on the job at hand.  Watch the interview >

5 June 2016: ER fantasist suspended over “inappropriate” conduct in care home

A 'fantasist' nurse who said he worked for the fictional hospital from the TV show ER has avoided being struck off over “inappropriate” conduct in a Saltcoats nursing home. He went before the Nursing and Midwifery Council panel, following allegations over training he gave on ‘physical intervention’ to staff from Seabank Nursing Home and he received a six month suspension order.

He advised those he was training to strike the Adam’s apples, smack the ears, bend the thumbs and push pressure points of those in their care displaying challenging behaviour. The home’s patients include frail and elderly residents, some of whom have intellectual impairment and behaviour which requires physical intervention.  More >      
    

3 June 2016: GPs urged to review prescribing for patients with learning disabilities/autism 

Doctors have been urged to review prescribing for patients with learning disabilities or autism, after the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) signed a pledge committing to reduce inappropriate medication for these groups.              

NHS England said thousands of adults with learning disabilities had been given prescriptions for an antipsychotic, an antidepressant or both without appropriate clinical justification. Side effects of long-term use of these drugs can include significant weight gain, organ failure and even death.  More >

The NHS have launched a toolkit to monitor over-prescribing in patients with learning disabilities.  Download the toolkit >

Stopping Over-Medication of People with Learning Disabilities
Download the report >

Lizz

2 June 2016: Funding shortfall means schools struggle to provide SEN support

Schools in England are struggling to support the 1.1 million pupils with special needs or disabilities (SEND) in mainstream classrooms, a new report says. 
A survey of 1,100 school leaders found delays to assessments, insufficient budgets and cuts to local authorities were hampering the ability to cope.

The study by The Key, which provides leadership and management support to schools, calls for increased funding. The government says it has increased funding for those with "high needs".  More >

1 June 2016: "The more I hear stupid things said about disabilities, the more lyrics I come up with", says music artist Lizzie Emeh

"Learning disabilities give me a different way of seeing the world, and the music industry is getting better for artists like me. But there’s progress to be made. Having learning disabilities gives me a different way of seeing the world, it makes me strong and adds fuel to the type of music I make. I like to write about people who are ignorant about learning disabilities. The more people who say stupid things around me, the more lyrics I come up with. So please do that more often because it means I can make a song about it – I’ll educate you!"  More >

1 June 2016: Learning Disability England Consultation Results

People First England is working with the charity Housing & Support Alliance and lots of other people to create a new organisation called Learning Disability England. They did a consultation to find out what people thought of this idea.

As part of the results, participants highlighted things that needed to get better which included attitudes towards people with learning disabilities and finding good support and services. The results also highlighted money, funding and cuts as the biggest challenge for organisations.  Download the results >

1 June 2016: Campaign for ‘Robin’s law’ to oblige care homes to inform family if a loved one is ill 

As a new inquest approaches into the death of their autistic sister, a family continues to fight for a law to boost the rights of relatives. Robin Kitt Callender, who was severely autistic, had mild spina bifida and was partially sighted, had been ill for over three months with intermittent vomiting and diarrhea, but the first her family heard of her condition was on the day before she died.

While daunted at the prospect, Callender’s family says it reignites their campaign for a “Robin’s law”. This would make it a criminal offence for a care home not to inform next of kin if someone they support, who lacks capacity to act in their own best interests, has an ongoing illness, and then dies. They also want there to be a duty on medical staff to inform relatives when treating such patients. 
More >

31 May 2016: Winterbourne View five years on: Families demand action

Families of victims of the Winterbourne View scandal have written to the prime minister demanding he shuts outdated care home institutions. They said there is "painfully slow lack of change", five years after abuse at the former private hospital near Bristol was exposed by BBC Panorama.  More >

31 May 2016: Antipsychotic prescribing trends in youths

About 1 in 10 youths treated with an antipsychotic are diagnosed with autism or intellectual disability. Conversely, 1 in 6 youths diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder has been prescribed antipsychotics. Furthermore, the results suggest that the proportion of adolescents with autism or intellectual disability has increased among youths treated with antipsychotics and that more youths with autism or intellectual disability have received antipsychotics.
More >

26 May 2016: Trend for more discharging from ATUs increasing, says NHS England

In her latest update on NHS England’s work to transform care for people with a learning disability, Dr. Julie Higgins, NHS England’s Director of Transformation – Learning Disabilities, gives figures that show an increase in discharges from ATUs in April.  Read Julie's blog >

Football 25 May 2016: Call for Government to provide more funding for services

A coalition of learning disability providers, calling themselves Learning Disability Voices, have published a 'Care Crisis Manifesto', which calls on the government to provide more funding for learning disability services. 

LD Voices are a group made up of 17 charities, not-for-profits and companies, which make up 20% of the learning-disability care sector – including Mencap, United Response and Voyage Care.
Download the manifesto >

Hamish

25 May 2016: Best interests assessor role could be axed to cut costs of DoL's system

The Best Interests Assessor role could be axed, and independent oversight of deprivation of liberty cases scrapped, under proposals being developed by the Law Commission.

In a published statement the commission has rolled back on a previous commitment that the BIA role would “be central” to a proposed replacement for the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) that is being developed for ministers.  More >
Interim statement >

Bodybuilder

25 May 2016: Autism no barrier for 11-year-old app developer crowdfunding to meet US President Barack Obama

At just 11 years old, four-time app developer Hamish Finlayson has been invited to meet US president resident Barack Obama. Hamish is autistic and is passionate about making the world a better place for those with autism. Hamish said this stigma is what encouraged him to develop TripleT&ASD, an app that includes quizzes and tips to help both those with autism and the general public learn about autism.

He has turned to crowdfunding to help him get to the US to attend a technology summit where he plans to speak about his apps to President Barack Obama.  More >

24 May 2016: The US bodybuilding champion with Down’s syndrome

Collin Clarke, a 22-year-old American man, has just realised his dream of becoming the first bodybuilder with Down’s syndrome. For years he has trained hard, lifting weights almost double those used by the majority of its ‘rivals’.

Among the characteristics of Trisomy 21 is a reduction in muscle tone and a propensity to gain weight. But the young man wasn’t deterred and continued to work out regularly, helped by a personal trainer, until he won fifth place in a national competition held in Kentucky, USA.  More >

20 May 2016: Nonspeaking teenager writes an incredibly profound letter explaining autism

“My brain, which is much like yours, knows what it wants and how to make that clear, My body, which is much like a drunken, almost six-foot toddler, resists. This letter is not a cry for pity, pity is not what I’m looking for. I love myself just the way I am, drunken toddler body and all. This letter is, however, a cry for attention, recognition and acceptance", penned Gordy Baylinson in a letter to a police officer.  Read the full letter > 

19 May 2016: Research examines the ‘untold stories’ of LGBT people

New research isto explore the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)men and women with disabilities who use direct payments or personal budgets to fund their social care.

It has been launched by the LGBT disability organisation Regard, the gay rights charity Stonewall, the Norah Fry Research Centre at the University of Bristol and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

The study will involve a survey of more than 100 LGBT adults who use direct payments or personal budgets to fund their social care, followed by 30 anonymous, confidential, in-depth interviews. The research findings are expected to be published in April 2017.  
More >

Theatre
SCLD winners

19 May 2016: The atmosphere was electric' – opening up theatre to autistic people

Theatres are increasingly catering for autistic audiences through special “relaxed” or “autism-friendly” performances. Relaxed performances differ in a number of ways. The show itself is adjusted for its audience: lighting states softened, loud noises lowered. It’s not simply a matter of reducing levels, but of addressing specific issues, based on a specialist’s suggestions. More >

Accomodation

18 May 2016: Celebrating Success at RSA Fellowship Awards as part of Learning Disability Week in Scotland

This year, the theme of Learning Disability Week in Scotland was 'Celebrating Success'. Lots of organisations, community groups and individuals got on board to share their success stories and to champion those who have achieved great things.

On Wednesday 18th May, SCLD hosted an awards ceremony to celebrate the winners of their RSA Fellowship competition. Undoubtedly, the stars of the show were the six winners, who SCLD will be working with to make their creative ideas a reality. More >


18 May 2016: 
Overnight child respite care in Northern Ireland 'full to capacity'

A number of families in Northern Ireland, who have children with challenging behavioural problems, have been told they will have to wait several years before they can access overnight respite care.

There are 10 respite facilities across Northern Ireland. Each has between five to eight beds which can be used to care for children overnight, but there are over 1,200 children trying to access those beds.  More >

17 May 2016: New accommodation opened for people with learning disabilities

Five new units of semi-supported accommodation for people with learning disabilities have been officially opened in Bexley. Pengarth, near Danson Park, has been refurbished by the council at a cost of £110,000 to support young people with learning disabilities to live independently.  More > 

16 May 2016: Southern investigates ‘very few’ learning disability deaths, CQC e-mails reveal

E-mails released under the FOI Act show that the principal concern from the CQC, which led to it issuing the troubled Southern Health trust with a warning notice, was the organisation’s consistent failure to investigate the deaths of patients with learning disabilities.
More > 

ap

15 May 2016: Judges to rule on death penalties for 'intellectually disabled'

The case of two Trinidadians on death row, Lester Pitman and Neil Hernandez, may set global precedent that could prevent the execution of people with extremely low IQs.  More > 

11 May 2016: Autism: getting lost in London – video

Kane is 19 and has Asperger syndrome. He’s a student and lives at home with his family. His care worker challenged him to spend a day map-reading in London. He describes his reactions to uncertainty, complex and seemingly illogical decisions of where to go and why, combined with an overload of visual stimulation, noise and feeling singled out and stared at.  More >

11 May 2016: How well is the Mental Capacity Act being used in care homes?

Saskia Goldman, policy officer at Care England said, “The Mental Capacity Act is not as embedded in practice as it should be across health and social care. Care homes, despite pockets of good practice, are no exceptions" in an opinion piece in Community Care.

"We wanted to discover the ‘how’ and the ‘how much’ of Mental Capacity Act implementation in care homes.We designed a survey to answer these questions", she said. Managers that responded most confidently used a range of approaches to embed the MCA in their staff’s work.  More >

11 May 2016: People with a learning disability to design ‘quality checks’ for NHS services

People with a learning disability are being asked to contribute to new tests which will help improve NHS services ranging from dentistry to acute care, announced NHS England.

The NHS Quality Checkers programme sees people with a learning disability employed to inspect local NHS services critically, to provide advice on how they can better meet their needs and those of other patients. Quality checkers use their own experiences to assess the quality of care and support patients receive, giving a view that can be often missing from other forms of inspection.
More >

Connor's brother

10 May 2016: Making apprenticeships accessible for people with learning disabilities

A new taskforce recently announced will help more people with learning disabilities to access apprenticeships. It comes as part of the government’s goal to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, and to halve the disability employment gap.  More >

Blake

9 May 2016: Since my brother’s preventable death . . . by Tom Ryan

Almost 3 years after Connor Sparrowhawk — who had autism — died at an NHS facility, his brother, Tom Ryan (pictured above, right), asks why the system still resists giving respect to people with learning disabilities.  More >

sally

9 May 2016: 20 year old becomes town's youngest business owner after turning passion into full-time job

A 20-year-old man with Down's Syndrome has shunned stereotypical views of his condition to become the youngest business owner in his hometown. Blake has turned his love of snow cones into his very own company, and earlier this week opened 'Blake's Snow Shack'.  More >

ASDA

9 May 2016: ‘Bridget Jones’ actress criticizes new Down's syndrome prenatal screening

Actress Sally Phillips, best known for her role in the Bridget Jones movies, spoke out in an interview with the BBC about a new screening technique to detect Down's syndrome, which the UK’s Secretary of Health Jeremy Hunt is deciding when and how to implement.
Phillips has an 11-year-old son, Ollie, who has Down's syndrome. “People with Down’s syndrome have never been included in the debate, they’ve never been asked”, Phillips said. 
Watch the interview >


8 May 2016: Eight other shops to follow example of Asda's 'Autism Hour'

A superstore staged its first ever ‘quiet hour’ to help autistic and shoppers with disabilities in early May, and now eight other shops at Manchester Fort are set to do the same.  

The quiet hour, based on the idea to help people who feel intimidated or stressed by noise and disturbance, saw escalators, in-store music turned down and display TVs switched off. Pictured are Karen Dennison, whose son has autism, manager Simon Lea, Mark Kirkwood who has autism, and his key worker Steve Coleman.  More >

Beth award

7 May 2016: Care Act ‘failing to deliver’ as carers face long waits for assessments

An 'alarming' number of carers of people with end-of-life conditions are facing long delays in getting assessed for support under the Care Act 2014, a report has warned.

A survey of more than 6,000 carers carried out by Carers UK revealed nearly a third (29%) of all carers who’d been offered a carer’s assessment, or requested one, waited at least six months to be seen.  More >

Channing Tatum

5 May 2016: Beth Morrison awarded Special Award for Outstanding Achievement at BILD PBS Leadership Awards

"Aware of the serious deficiencies in Scottish Government guidance, in part as a consequence of her experience with her son, Beth Morrison from Dundee decided to do something about it. 

She organized a petition to Scottish government that garnered thousands of signatures, canvased support from interested organisations, created a groundswell of support and ultimately won a commitment from Scottish Government that they would develop more detailed guidance around the use of restrictive interventions covering the needs of children with complex learning disabilities and autistic spectrum conditions.

Scotland’s vulnerable children will, ultimately, be safer as a result."

Pictured above presenting the award to Beth are, left, Ben Higgins BILD Chief Executive and Sharon Paley from the Department for Communities and Disability Services, Queensland.

View the full set of award winners at the BILD PBS Leadership Awards here >

Connor Sparrowhawk

4 May 2016: Talk show host grills Channing Tatum

A woman has accomplished her dream of becoming the world's first autistic, non-verbal talk show host - with the help of Channing Tatum as her guest. Carly Fleischmann has been unable to speak her entire life and was diagnosed with motor neurone apraxia as a toddler. On the first episode of her YouTube show Speechless, she pulled no punches when interviewing Tatum - and made her attraction to the movie star known from the start with the help of an iPad and keyboard.  More >

29 April 2016: Southern Health leadership under fire after CQC finds ‘serious’ patient safety concerns

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has identified “serious concerns” about the safety of mental health and learning disability patients at Southern Health NHS Trust. A published inspection report said the trust’s leadership was “ineffective” in identifying and addressing risks to patients, including those posed by ligature points.  More >

Sheffield

28 April 2016: Autism in workers can benefit employers, Australian study finds

Employing people with autism benefits employers and their organisations without costing any extra, according to new research by Curtin University. The study, which is the first of its kind in Australia, surveyed employers and employees from a range of industries and occupations. Lead researcher Delia Hendrie said people with autism performed better in some areas than counterparts without autism, and the cost of employing people with and without autism was comparative.  More >

prom

28 April 2016: Sheffield foundation aims to provide employment opportunities

The Burton Street Foundation describes itself as ‘a little community of services, groups and people’. At the heart of that is the work the foundation carries out with Sheffield adults and children who have learning disabilities. This year, Burton Street will launch its new Enterprise 100 scheme, set up with the help of Sheffield Council. “The aim is to give employment opportunities to 100 Sheffield adults with learning disabilities over the next three years,” said Burton Street managing director Clare Mappin.  More >

27 April 2016: 'I like coffee, I like tea, will you go to prom with me?'

A young man in North Carolina has found his prom date, and he couldn't be happier. Actually, the prom date found him. When Lillie Wright realized she wanted to ask her family friend, Trevor Jefferson, to the annual and all-important dance, she decided asking wasn't simply enough. So she made a sign and went down to Beau's Coffee, the shop where Trevor works in Wilmington, prepared to make a touching proposal.  More >

27 April 2016: The residents with disabilities in Barnet, struggling to retain free travel passes issued by Capita

'A couple of weeks ago, Mrs Angry was on a local bus, when she witnessed disagreement between the driver, and someone who was trying to use their travel pass, and move on into the bus. In fact there were two people in front of the driver: a man with a learning disability, and his carer, and it was the carer who was trying to use the pass of the man he was looking after. The pass seemed not to work, and the carer could not understand why that was.' 

'Eventually the driver stopped arguing, and let the pair sit down. Clearly it was upsetting and confusing for the passenger with a disability, and it was puzzling to see a bus driver arguing with someone who pretty obviously was entitled to a free pass anyway. This incident made sense at last when Mrs Angry read about problems related to the renewal of Freedom Passes, in the Barnet Eye blog, which has recently featured the plight of two residents with disabilities who have reportedly had their passes cancelled by the London Borough of Barnet, without any warning - a young man, and a young woman, and Mrs Angry has also heard from other sources deeply worrying tales of similar experiences.'  More >

26 April 2016: Rise in care homes going out of business

The number of care home providers going bust in England and Wales rose last year, according to research. An analysis by accountancy firm Moore Stephens found 47 care home operators became insolvent in 2014-15, up from 40 the previous year and 35 in 2012-13. Reductions in local authority fees and increasing property costs had piled pressure on providers, the research found. The introduction of the national living wage from April this year will add further strain on provider finances, it added.  More >

Valued Lives project in Wales aims to empower young people to have greater choice and control over their lives

Through the Valued Lives project, Learning Disability Wales want children, young people and adults with a learning disability across Wales to be empowered to have greater choice and control over their lives so they are able to live more independently.

They have started to deliver training on Person Centred Planning and will be providing resources and information sessions on assessment and care planning, promoting work for people with a learning disability, working with others to advise, change opinion and policy, and produce more easy read on aspects of the Well-being (Wales) Act.  More >

25 April 2016: Manchester Asda introduces 'quiet hour' to help autistic shoppers

Asda is introducing a “quiet hour” at a Manchester store to help shoppers with autism and other disabilities. The Asda Living store in Cheetham Hill is pioneering a disability-friendly hour for people who feel intimidated or stressed by noise and disturbance. The store will open an hour early without electronic distractions such as escalators, music and display TVs, and the public address system will not be used for announcements.  More >

22 April 2016: FDA moves to ban shock devices used on those with special needs

The Food and Drug Administration in the United States is moving forward with plans to ban devices used to administer electric shocks to those with developmental disabilities in an effort to modify their behavior. The agency said it will issue a proposed rule barring the use of what are known as electrical stimulation devices, which use electrodes that attach to the skin to deliver electric shocks with an eye toward conditioning individuals not to engage in self-injurious or aggressive behaviors.  More >

Give us a voice

22 April 2016: Families’ 7 Days of Action campaign highlights plight of those trapped in ATUs

Family members of people in Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs) who have no date set for their move back into the community, launched a high profile campaign – the 7 Days of Action. As well as a wide range of campaign activities, each day this week the campaign has highlighted the impact life in ATUs has had on an individual. 

Read the 7 Days of Action blog >

Sign the petition >

To accompany the campaign, Chris Hatton has written blog posts looking at recent trends in what’s happening with learning disability inpatient services in England.  More >

Airi

21 April 2016: Game of Thrones' Kit Harington lands next role as Mencap ambassador

Actor Kit Harington has been announced as Mencap's new celebrity ambassador. Kit, who has a cousin with a learning disability, will be helping Mencap raise awareness of the barriers faced by people with a learning disability.

"I want to be your ambassador because I want to help support people with a learning disability. I believe everyone deserves equal health care, equal education, equal access to work and the same chances as everyone else to go out and have fun", said Kit in his audition tape.  Take a look at his audition >

21 April 2016: Parents with children with Down's syndrome in Japan often struggle to find support

Airi Ryuen believes parents in Japan find it hard to obtain support. She is working to raise awareness of Down's syndrome in children. She has a 2-year-old boy with Down's syndrome.

“I decided to raise him in a way that he would think of himself as happy,” she said. She has launched a blog and organises weekly gatherings aimed at sharing experiences and information about Down's syndrome.  More >

Katrina Pearcy

21 April 2016: Care worker jailed for stealing thousands from people with severe learning disabilities

A care worker has been jailed for pocketing thousands of pounds belonging to some of the "most vulnerable people in society" heard Durham Crown Court. Lyndsey Gray systematically stole a total of £16,350 from four men with severe learning disabilities who were living in supported accommodation.

The 40-year-old abused her position as the first line manager at Durham-based Marwood Park, run by St Anne's Community Services, between March 2014 and March 2015. Gray was handed an immediate 21-month prison sentence for each offence to run concurrently.  More >

20 April 2016: Southern Health Trust CEO faces MPs

The leader of an under-fire Health Trust criticised for the "preventable" death of an 18-year-old has been scrutinised by MPs. Chief executive of the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Katrina Percy addressed MPs in a special meeting of the Hampshire All-Party Parliamentary Group at Westminster on 19th April.  More >

mencap suspends worker

19 April 2016: "Progress so far hasn’t been fast enough - building the right support starts now"

NHS England says there has been a significant increase in the number of people being discharged from hospital in the last year, and that 48 Transforming Care Partnerships are now starting the local planning vital to delivering on Building the Right Support.

Dr. Julie Higgins, NHS England’s Director of Transformation – Learning Disabilities, this week gave an update on NHS England's work to transform care for people with a learning disability.  More >

19 April 2016: Care worker who caused outrage on social media keeps job

A support worker, from Mencap, who was pictured smoking and chatting on the phone after loading shopping bags onto a man in a wheelchair has been allowed to keep her job.  More >

19 April 2016: Council hands running of both children's and adult social care to the NHS

Big changes are happening in Trafford. This month the council integrated its children social care service with its adult social care and community health services, and handed the running of them to an NHS Trust. Council social workers will still be employed by the council but the day-to-day management of social care in the borough will now be handled by the Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.  More >

18 April 2016: 'I am odd, I am new': Boy touches the hearts of thousands with his moving poem about autism

Benjamin Giroux and his fellow classmates at Cumberland Head Elementary were asked to write a poem about themselves to celebrate National Poetry Month. Benjamin, who has Asperger's Syndrome, was given the first two words of each sentence for his poem titled 'I am', in which he provides an inside look into his life with autism. His finished product has been shared on Facebook by the National Autism Association where it has received more than 23,000 'likes' and an outpouring of praise.  More >

connor's family

15 April 2016: It took a serious accident for my autistic son to get the help he needed

"My teenage, 6ft son, playing with a tiny plastic ball and with absolutely no idea of danger, smashed a large window in the house. Glass and blood went everywhere as he removed every fragment of glass from the window frame with his bare hands. We had an ambulance, police, the works. Before the incident we had spent the best part of two years trying to get a referral, first with social care and then child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs). I was desperate for specialist help. Eventually, the Camhs wheels started to turn."  More >

robet de niro

14 April 2016: Leaked document reveals NHS Trust knew of failings before death of Connor Sparrowhawk

A leaked document reveals that an NHS England Trust knew of failings 10 months before a young man died in its care.

Late last year an inquest jury at Oxford Coroner’s court determined that Connor Sparrowhawk, who had learning disabilities and epilepsy, had drowned following a seizure in the bath at the Southern Health NHS Trust unit known as STATT (short-term assessment and treatment team) in Slade House, at Headington, near Oxford. He was 18 years old.

Connor's mother, Sara Ryan, recently received a copy of a leaked NHS document, dated August 2012, that noted failings at the facility, failings that might have set alarm bells ringing a full 10 months before Connor’s death.  More >

Read Sara Ryan's blog post letter, 'Behan and gang', outlining the implications of the leaked document, here >

13 April 2016: Robert De Niro says his wife believes autistic son changed 'overnight' after vaccination

Robert De Niro suggested his wife thinks their son's autism is connected to vaccinations during an emotional interview.

The actor has previously spoken in support of controversial anti-vaccination documentary Vaxxed . During an appearance on the USA's Today show, the actor said his wife Grace Hightower believes that Elliot, 18, 'changed overnight' after being given the jab. He said "there is a link" between autism and vaccinations despite scientific consensus proving the opposite.  More >

13 April 2016: Schools in New Zealand 'demonising' difficult children

Many schools are illegally stopping children from attending class, saying they don't have the specialist support to deal with their behaviour, Disability advocacy group IHC and the Green Party say. The Ministry of Education was trying to resolve a situation in the town of Paeroa where local schools won't accept a boy without more help to manage his aggression.  More > 

13 April 2016: New withdrawal-space guidelines for schools aimed at preventing another cage scandal in Australian Capital Territory

ACT schools must now follow strict new guidelines on placing students in withdrawal spaces, as part of the government's response to the autism cage scandal. The guidelines stipulate that withdrawal spaces should not be locked and students must not be prevented from leaving. The ACT made international headlines last April after the then education minister Joy Burch announced an inquiry into why a 10-year-old boy with autism had been locked in a two-metre by two-metre metal cage.  More >

Leg gaitors

12 April 2016: Patients with learning disabilities less likely to be diagnosed with cancer

Coronary heart disease and cancer rates among people with learning disabilities are nearly a third lower than the general population, says new research. But experts say this may be because they are difficult to diagnose, as people with a learning disability are less capable of articulating their conditions, and so medical staff may be missing some indications when diagnosing. More >

12 April 2016: Mum's fury as school admits restraining six-year-old autistic son

A mum is suing her autistic son’s former school, after he was repeatedly physically restrained by teachers. Emma Donoghue, 34, has launched legal action against Victoria School and Specialist Arts College, in Northfield, Birmingham, after a report confirmed six-year-old Joshy’s arm had been tied with his own leg gaitors to stop him hurting himself. Emma said, "Joshy has been failed by those who taught him and the people responsible for safeguarding children.”  More >

firefighters

12 April 2016: CQC to review how NHS Trusts investigate and learn from deaths

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is carrying out a review of how NHS trusts identify, report, investigate and learn from deaths of people using their services.

This follows a request from the Secretary of State for Health, which was part of the Government’s response to a report into the deaths of people with a learning disability or mental health problem in contact with Southern Health Foundation NHS Foundation Trust. 
More >

12 April 2016: Course run for young people by Essex Fire and Rescue Service

Thirteen young people took part in a special Firebreak course held between April 4 and 7. This year’s course, held in conjunction with charity Down Syndrome ‘Extra 21’, is the seventh time the Service has worked with the charity. The course has been especially designed to develop participant’s skills in working together, build confidence and demonstrate their abilities.

Throughout the week, the students worked with instructors who taught them essential fire fighter skills, with the aim of assisting in improving communication, teamwork and problem solving, giving them new confidence and motivation.  More >

play

11 April 2016: NHS invests £1.75m to drive Shared Lives home care programme forward

More people with serious health problems will be cared for at home instead of in a hospital setting, NHS England has announced after launching a new £1.75m funding initiative.

Under the Shared Lives scheme, £1.75m will be given to CCGs to allow Shared Lives carers to provide either live-in care or short and long-term breaks for people with conditions including learning disabilities, dementia and mental illness, as well as people recovering from strokes and other medical crises.  More >

11 April 2016: New play highlights disabled life struggles in Atherstone

The feelings, thoughts and difficulties of people with disabilities have been highlighted in a play which was filmed and premiered in Atherstone, Warwickshire.  More >

8 April 2016: Comic Relief agree funding to develop and deliver a training programme about Child Sexual Exploitation 

Comic Relief has agreed twelve months funding to enable Barnardo’s, BILD and Paradigm Research to develop a one day training programme on Child Sexual Exploitation and young people with learning disabilities. 

The programme will be delivered and piloted to a mixed audience of child protection and learning disability frontline workers and managers. It is anticipated that this will improve day to day practice, reduce “working in silos” and promote ongoing partnership working between the professional groups.

The training programme will be delivered in eight workshop events across the UK. It is anticipated that three events will be held in England, one in Northern Ireland, two in Scotland and two in Wales. Each event will have 40 participants, ensuring that a total of 320 professionals will benefit.

The impact of the training will be reviewed and evaluated and any required changes or amendments made to the programme as necessary. The completed resources will be available for dissemination by April 2017.

8 April 2016: Comic Relief agree funding to develop and deliver a training programme about Child Sexual Exploitation 

Comic Relief has agreed twelve months funding to enable Barnardo’s, BILD and Paradigm Research to develop a one day training programme on Child Sexual Exploitation and young people with learning disabilities. 

The programme will be delivered and piloted to a mixed audience of child protection and learning disability frontline workers and managers. It is anticipated that this will improve day to day practice, reduce “working in silos” and promote ongoing partnership working between the professional groups.

The training programme will be delivered in eight workshop events across the UK. It is anticipated that three events will be held in England, one in Northern Ireland, two in Scotland and two in Wales. Each event will have 40 participants, ensuring that a total of 320 professionals will benefit.

The impact of the training will be reviewed and evaluated and any required changes or amendments made to the programme as necessary. The completed resources will be available for dissemination by April 2017.

6 April 2016: Criticised Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust 'must improve'

A healthcare trust which was criticised after an inquest found neglect contributed to the death of Connor Sparrowhawk, has been told it must improve in order to protect patients. Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust was issued the warning notice by the Care Quality Commission following an inspection in January. The Trust said it was "completely focused" on tackling the concerns.  More >

5 April 2016: Liverpool launches ambition to become an autism-friendly city

Autism campaigners in Merseyside have launched a project to make Liverpool one of the UK’s first autism-friendly cities, and several high-profile organisations have already signed up to it. The project is being run by Wirral-based charity Autism Together and Liverpool community business Autism Adventures UK. They unveiled a 'Liverpool Autism Champions' emblem, which organisations that that have made a commitment to be more autism friendly can put on display.  More >

4 April 2016: Autism charity launches campaign to help people into employment

An autism charity has launched a campaign that aims to give the UK’s 75,000 young autistic people a fighting chance of getting a job by ensuring the right support is in place for them to get meaningful work.

Ambitious about Autism’s campaign, Employ Autism, is calling for substantially improved careers advice, better vocational programmes in schools and colleges to prepare young people for work, and more opportunities for young people with autism to access entry level positions and work experience.  More >

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