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News from July - December 2016

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.

11 December 2016: NHS consults on proposals to replace Calderstones with community support

New proposals published propose the closure of England’s last long-stay learning disability hospital at Calderstones in Lancashire, while creating more community support for people with a learning disability and/or autism in the North West.  More >

NHS staff

8 December 2016: NHS staff 'lack understanding' of learning disabilities

NHS staff 'lack understanding of learning disabilities in residential facilities, according to a new report by the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales. Overall across services, it found people with learning disabilities were treated with dignity and respect and access to services was good. It surveyed all seven health boards in Wales and inspected teams and residential services.  More > 


6 December 2016: Councils to allocate social workers to help challenge decisions on care

Six councils will give people with learning disabilities and their families a named social worker to help challenge decisions about their care, under a government scheme.

The councils signed up to the scheme are: Calderdale, Camden, Hertfordshire, Liverpool, Nottingham and Sheffield.  More >


6 December 2016: Do not suggest ‘do not resuscitate’ when someone is most vulnerable

A former social worker and service user reflects on how attitudes to disability are causing safeguarding issues in hospitals

"How many others have found themselves in such vulnerable situations without family with them or a full understanding of the issues? Are the pressures of costs of hospital beds leading to such safeguarding issues? What extra protocols need developing to prevent the unconscious stereotyping that we can all be guilty of?"  More > 

5 December 2016: Enable Scotland says flagship policy to educate pupils with learning disabilities in mainstream schools 'is not working'

Young people with learning disabilities are losing out in the classroom and suffering isolation and even exclusion from school because a flagship education policy is not working, says Enable Scotland. New figures from a survey of teachers, parents and children with learning disabilities themselves show "mainstreaming" disabled pupils is leaving many disadvantaged and unhappy.  More >    

5 December 2016: MoJ challenged to scrap child restraint policy as approved restraint techniques can kill

The Ministry of Justice is facing calls to scrap and rewrite the policy on restraining minors after it emerged that a report it commissioned found some authorised techniques could kill children or leave them disabled.  More >


1 December 2016: Lee Irving killing: Attacker guilty of murder

A man with learning difficulties was beaten for 10 days in a house and left to die by a so-called friend, a jury has found.

Lee Irving, 24, was found dead after being dumped on a footpath in Fawdon, Newcastle, with 27 rib fractures and a broken nose and jaw in 2015. His attacker was found guilty of murder at Newcastle Crown Court.  More >

social engagerment

30 November 2016: Parents of children with learning disabilities miss social engagements due to fears

Almost two-thirds of parents of children with learning disabilities say they have missed social engagements in the past 12 months due to the fear of how other people will react to them, a new survey has found.  More >

28 November 2016: 
'Lost generation' warning over children with support needs

Scotland faces a "lost generation" of children with additional support needs (ASN) if funding cuts continue, a network of support groups has claimed. This was as the number of learning support teachers was falling, it said. The group warned a lack of action would make closing the educational attainment gap "extremely challenging".  More > 

25 November 2016: Southern Health making 'significant improvements' following criticism after Connor Sparrowhawk death

A heavily criticised Healthcare Trust where 722 people died unexpectedly over a four year period is making 'significant improvements', inspectors have said. But the Trust still needs to do more, including when dealing with risk assessments.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust was given a warning notice by watchdog the Care Quality Commuission (CQC) after inspectors visited in January. It followed a report at the end of last year that revealed a large number of the unexplained deaths were not properly investigated.  More >

Sport pic

25 November 2016: Special Olympics: Learning disability sport looks to tackle 'horrifying' health issues

Special Olympics is the charity which organises year-round sport for people with learning disabilities. They want more action to be taken to improve the health of people with learning disabilities in this country. Government-funded research says women with a learning disability die 20 years younger on average than the general UK population and men 13 years younger.  More >

24 November 2016: Autumn Statement: Row as care funding omitted from measures

Health and Social Care leaders have condemned the chancellor's Autumn Statement as a missed opportunity to announce new investment.

The chancellor, Phillip Hammond did not offer new resources either for the NHS or social care when outlining the Treasury's plans, only confirming that ministers would be sticking with departmental spending announced last year

There had been calls for more funding for council-run social care in England, amid concerns that limits to care were leaving patients stuck in hospitals. But predictions of "looming chaos" were rejected by the chancellor.  More >

24 November 2016: Tailored autism care at new hospital unit

A new in-patient facility to support adults with autism is opening at Northgate Hospital in Morpeth. The £10million Mitford Unit, which will be run by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, has a range of features to make it a supportive and caring place for those who need specialist care. 

They include precise temperature and lighting controls for each living area to adjust the environment depending on patients’ needs, sound-proofing throughout the unit to help reduce noise sensitivity and curved walls and seating areas throughout to help people move about the unit with ease.  More >

Coroner's court

17 November 2016: Government to scrap Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards inquests duty

Coroners will no longer be required to hold an inquest for anyone who dies while subject to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, under an amendment to the law backed by ministers.  More >

16 November 2016: Woman with learning disability should have caesarean, judge rules

Doctors can perform a caesarean section on a pregnant woman with learning difficulties who wants to give birth naturally at home, a judge has ruled after a hearing in a specialist court.  More >

14 November 2016: Long waits for diagnosis and patchy provision of services in East Sussex, say families

Parents of autistic children and young people in East Sussex face long waits for a formal diagnosis – often several years – and receive only patchy provision in schools, a survey has found. Responses from 100 parents of autistic children across the county, also found that there is little or no support in some of the greatest areas of need: social, emotional and general life skills. More >


9 November 2016: Families win supreme court appeals over 'unfair' bedroom tax

Two families who claimed that the bedroom tax, which restricts housing subsidies, was unfair have won their appeals against the UK government at the supreme court. 

The seven-justice panel upheld the claims of Jacqueline Carmichael, who is disabled and cannot share a room with her husband, Jayson, as well as that of Paul and Susan Rutherford, who care for their severely disabled grandson, Warren, 17, in a specially adapted three-bedroom bungalow in Pembrokeshire, south Wales. Both had claimed discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights.  More >

9 November 2016: Lords defeat government on plan for exemptions from social care law

The government has been defeated in the House of Lords over controversial proposals to allow councils to request exemptions from statutory social care duties.

Peers voted 245-213 in favour of amendment to delete the proposals, set out in clause 29, from the Children and Social Work Bill.  More >

9 November 2016: Virgin Care set to run social work service in unprecedented deal

Private provider Virgin Care is set to run adult social work services as part of a £700m deal to reshape social care and community health support in Bath and North East Somerset.  
More >

2 November 2016: Total transformation – creating a five year forward view for social care

Adult social care will struggle to continue to provide good services that meet rising demand without significant transformation. Scaling up promising models could improve outcomes for individuals – and result in savings for both adult social care and the NHS.

That's one conclusion in a new paper published by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). It explores the potential for scaling up some of the most promising examples of care and support services, using data from Birmingham City Council, to see what their impact would be on outcomes and costs.  More >

31 October 2016: Government approves new Down's syndrome test

A new test that can more accurately diagnose if a foetus has Down’s syndrome will be offered to expectant mothers from 2018, after the government approved its use. But there are concerns that it will lead to more abortions where a foetus is shown to have Down’s syndrome.  More >

National Forum no voice campaign

28 October 2016: #novoice The National Forums to lose their funding next April?

The Department of Health this week has told the National Forum of People with Learning Disabilities and the National Valuing Families Forum that it is very unlikely that they will be given any more money after their current contract ends in March 2017.

 Inclusion North, as the host organisation supporting both forums, say that they are very sad about this news but intend to carry on working hard with all members of the forums, nationally, regionally and locally.  "We want to make sure they are well supported, and the work, knowledge and networks that they have developed over ten years or more is not lost.

The National Forum of People with Learning Disabilities met this week and they have decided to campaign against this decision (as you can see in the picture above!). You can follow their campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #novoice.  

The National Valuing Families Forum meet next week to plan their response.

scope research image

24 October 2016: Young people are not being supported to do the things they want to in their lives

SCOPE have launched Leading my life my way, a new research report looking at experiences of young people with disabilities using support services to live independently. "The research shows that young people with disabilities don’t have sufficient control over their care and support plans and consequently in major decisions affecting their lives.

Young disabled people want to do all the things that every young adult does. But the social care system is letting them down and holding them back in many crucial areas of their life.  This is leading to social exclusion and affecting young people’s wellbeing."  Download the report > 

Download their briefing on living independently > 

21 October 2016: 'Far too many vulnerable people are being drawn into the justice system'
Far too many vulnerable people are being drawn into the justice system, the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, Claire Sugden, told a Centre for Crime and Justice Studies conference on the UK justice systems on this week. 

Dusty Kennedy, Director of Youth Justice Board Cymru, highlighted the dramatic fall in first-time entrants into the youth justice system and the fall in the youth custodial population in Wales. He also drew attention to the high proportion of young people with multiple criminal convictions who had faced trauma and neglect and had little in the way of formal qualifications.  More >

20 October 2016: Adult and children’s services in England ‘face £3.2bn funding gap’ by 2020

Adult social care and children's services budgets in England will face a combined funding gap of almost £3.2bn by the end of the decade, local government leaders have claimed.

Analysis by the Local Government Association found that children’s services will see a £1.9bn gap emerge between funding and need from 2016-17 to 2019-20, while adult social care will be hit by a £1.25bn shortfall over the same period. The figures were included in the LGA’s submission to the Treasury ahead of the chancellor’s Autumn Statement next month.

“If this gap is not plugged we are likely to see more care providers leaving the market, cuts to care services, and risk the safety and quality of care,” the LGA said.  More >

14 October 2016: "The clock is being turned back on rights for people with a learning disability"

Since 2001, learning disability policy has aimed increase the choice and control people have over where they live. Current policy calls on “care managers to have an increased focus on home ownership and assured tenancies as a model for housing and support”, writes the NDTi's Rob Greig in the Guardian.

Recently, however, some commissioners have started to move back to a residential care model on supposed cost grounds. NDTi has been told of five authorities where this has been given as an informal directive to social workers.

In these difficult times, councils need to find savings. If, as Rochdale claim, some people are over-supported or supported living outcomes are poor, then the answer is evidence-based commissioning and provision. Support people to move to other rights-based housing models if they want, introduce flexible support and crucially, provide people with knowledgeable independent advocacy to enable them to assert their rights. The answer is certainly not a return to a large-group, residential care model where rights are taken away and lower staffing ratios lead to reduced life chances.

Some 263 adults with a learning disability risk losing fundamental rights so Rochdale council can save £1.4m from its budget – a saving of £5,313 per person. This, we now know, is the price of people’s rights for at least one English council."  More >

13 October 2016: CQC warns of social care ‘tipping point’ as 57% don't improve

Almost half of adult social care services rated as ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission failed to achieve a higher rating at re-inspection. On top of this, a further 8% of services had deteriorated and were downgraded to an ‘inadequate’ rating.

The findings come from the CQC’s annual report on the state of health and care services in England. Of the 1850 services re-inspected in 2015-16, 904 had no change to their ‘requires improvement’ rating, 153 became ‘inadequate’, and the remaining 793 were able to improve.

The CQC had inspected more than 16,000 care services by 31 July 2016. Of these, 71% were rated ‘good’, 1% ‘outstanding’, 26% ‘requires improvement’ and 2% ‘inadequate’.

Ratings for safety and leadership were comparatively lower, with 3% of services rated ‘inadequate’ for safety and 3% receiving an ‘inadequate’ rating for leadership.  More > 

Speaking at the launch of the report, CQC chief David Behan, said: “It is hard to improve services that are struggling. It is not just about money – it is about good leadership, collaborating with others, and the ability to learn when things go wrong. In the services we re-inspected in adult social care, some of those characteristics weren’t there.” 

Download the report > 

Download the easy read version > 

CPS consultation doc 10.2016

10 October 2016: CPS issues new guidelines and launches consultation on disability hate crime 

The Crown Prosecution Service has launched new Public Policy Statements on Hate Crime and put them out for public consultation.

The policy contains a definition of what constitutes a disability hate crime: 'Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's disability or perceived disability.'

In addition, the policy contains a section on internet and social media – where legislation and policy has previously not kept pace with the development of the technology.

The consultation is open until January 9, 2017 and all people with an interest – including people with disabilities, their families, professionals and others, are being encouraged to take part.

The consultation can be viewed here >

7 October 2016: Former Southern Health boss quits
The former head of the troubles Southern Health NHS Trust, who was controversially moved to a new post, has quit following months of pressure.

Katrina Percy first stepped down in August, but was given a new advisory role specifically created for her.

The Trust's board said public feedback had led it to decide it was "no longer possible for her to continue". Ms Percy, who will leave with a £190,000 payout, said she felt "great sadness" but agreed with the decision.   

On the subject of Ms Percy's settlement, NHS Improvement said, "We know that this won't please some who think she ought to have received no payment at all. In situations like this, a perfect deal is not possible. But the strong legal advice we have received is that to do anything else would have a much greater cost to the public purse and, as a consequence, would go against good management of public money."   More >

5 October 2016: Councils fall behind on Care Act reviews

Local authorities in England have fallen short of an expectation that care plans should be reviewed at least once a year under the Care Act, official figures reveal.

Data published by NHS Digital shows that 55 per cent of people who had been receiving care for at least 12 months did not receive a review during 2015/16. Where reviews had been carried out, around half led to changes in care plans. A third of carers in contact with councils did not receive a review or assessment.  More >

4 October 2016: Councils turn to ‘desktop assessments’ as DoLS backlog hits 100,000

Councils are set to us desktop assessments to complete deprivation of liberty cases in a bid to clear a backlog of more than 100,000 referrals.  More >


3 October 2016: Autistic man drowned in the bath at Sidcup’s Loring Hall care home

A severely autistic man died in a care home after having a huge epileptic fit, brain tests have revealed. Elric Eiffert drowned in the bath at Sidcup’s Loring Hall in April, but the 34-year-old’s family were not told about his death for 17 days. A date for a full inquest is still to be set. Mr Eiffert was unattended at the time of his death, despite needing round-the-clock supervision.  More >


30 September 2016: Charities renew pressure to move people out of inpatient units

New campaign guidance for groups and individuals wanting to apply pressure on NHS England and local areas to deliver change for thousands of people with a learning disability, autism and/or challenging behaviour currently stuck in inpatient units, has been produced by Mencap, The Challenging Behaviour Foundation and The National Autistic Society.  More >

Download the Making it Happen guidance >

29 September 2016: Six mental health pilot sites to redesign services for children

NHS England has announced six pilot sites across the country to drive the design of new approaches to delivering children and young people’s mental health services and secure mental health services.

The sites will be tasked with reducing psychiatric hospital admissions and time spent in hospital, putting an end to the practice of adults and young people with mental health problems being sent for in-patient treatment miles away from home.  
More >


29 September 2016: Sally Phillips: "My son has Down's syndrome - but I wouldn't want to live in a world without it"

The BBC have produced a one-hour documentary, presented and co-wrote by actress Sally Phllips, who has a child, Olly, with Down's Syndrome, entitled A World Without Down’s Syndrome?

The programme examines the issues around Down’s Syndrome with intellectual rigour but is also extremely moving, largely because of Phillips herself who made the decision to include Olly in the film. He emerges as a chatty, engaging and kind little boy who often has his younger siblings, Luke, nine, and Tom, four, in hysterics.  More >

28 September 2016: Urgent DoLS cases ‘not signed off for seven months’

Official figures reveal councils are getting through far more Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications but still struggling with the impact of the 'Cheshire West' ruling.

Councils are processing thousands more deprivation of liberty cases but huge backlogs means some urgent applications are not being signed off for seven months rather than the seven days required by law.  More >

21 September 2016: Recorded restraints increase and face-down restraint continues in NHS mental health wards

Face-down physical restraint is still being used in mental health wards in England, despite the government and the NHS saying it should stop. Its use, which can restrict a patient's breathing, dropped only slightly over the two years following new guidelines. 

The total number of recorded restraints rose by 16.6% from 2013-14 to 2015-16, although NHS managers said better reporting might be part of the reason for the increase.  More >

15 September 2016: Councils to get supported housing cash to soften benefit cut impact

Councils will be given ring-fenced funding for supported housing services to mitigate the impact of a controversial housing benefit cut when it comes into force in 2019. 

The government said the move would give councils a greater role in commissioning supported housing and enable them to develop a more coherent approach to commissioning social care, housing and health services across their areas.  More >


15 September 2016: £25m fund launched to help people live more independently 

The government has launched a £25m housing and technology fund to help people with learning disabilities live independently.

Local authorities and community organisations will be able to bid for between £10k and £3m to help use technology to adapt the homes of people with learning disabilities. According to the Department of Health, the technology could include floor sensors to monitor for falls or fingerprint scanners for doors.  More > 

15 September 2016: Biggest not-profit provider pulls out of 'unaffordable' home care market

The UK's largest not-for-profit care provider is to pull out of the home care market because it feels local authority fees make it unaffordable to provide high-quality care. Housing & Care 21, which operates in over 150 local authority areas, is to sell on its home care business to another provider.  More >

15 September 2016: DWP slashes funding for disability supported housing and homeless hostels

The government has announced an “unexpected” cut to funding for disability supported housing and homeless accommodation – arguing that the services need to make “efficiency savings”.

The changes, which will see an annual, rolling 1 per cent reduction in the rent payments for three years, will cost providers millions, with budgets already under pressure from years of sharp cuts to local councils.  More >

15 September 2016: What it’s like to be a police officer with autism

John Nelson, chairman of the National Police Autism Assocation, explains. “The main challenge for people with autism in the police is not the work itself, but in the workplace, with colleagues and managers who might not be used to dealing with difference. 

Ultimately what we’d like to see is that people are just accepted for who they are without having to have a label attached to them, and that they’re recognised for their strength.  More > 

14 September 2016: Young autistic man 'shackled to a hospital bed by his wrists and ankles for 24 hours a day for nine months wearing no clothes'

A young man with autism was left naked and shackled to a hospital bed by the arms and legs for 24 hours a day because staff did not know how else to handle him, following a nine-month ordeal in Victoria's Alfred Health hospital. More > 

Board meeting

9 September 2016: 'Has Southern Health done enough to silence critics?', asks the BBC

As the chief executive of Southern Health is moved to a new job, David Fenton, in a BBC programme called 'Broken Trust', looked at whether the Trust that failed to investigate hundreds of deaths has done enough to silence its critics.  Watch on BBC iPlayer >


My Life My Choice breaks with Southern Health saying "You delivered nothing"

Members of My Life My Choice have penned a damning open letter to the much-criticised NHS trust's chairman Tim Smart saying the charity will no longer engage with its leadership.

Trustees voted on the move earlier this week, the first time in the charity's 18-year history it has refused to engage with any individual or organisation.  More >  Download the letter >

8 September 2016: 'Home not Hospitals' on Radio 4 asks, "What progress has been made?"

File on 4 asks “what progress has been made on the promise to get people with learning disabilities and autism out of hospital units and into homes in the community with good support."  More >

8 September 2016: NHS England report reveals a postcode lottery for care and health services

Patients with dementia, diabetes, and learning disabilities are being let down by their local health services in many parts of England, new figures show.

A postcode lottery of care across the country has been highlighted as new performance data shows that while some health bodies are performing well, neighbouring organisations are falling short.

The figures, released by NHS England, show that many Clinical Commissioning Groups have been classed as needing improvement in the different aspects of care.  More >


8 September 2016: "Why athletes with a learning disability should have more opportunities at the Paralympics" 

"My name is Stephanie and I’m an elite athlete. It is my goal to compete at the Paralympics, but that isn’t possible because of the current restrictions on athletes with a learning disability competing. There needs to be more opportunities for athletes with a learning disability at the Paralympics. I have trained most of my life to reach the top level in sport, and there are many more athletes like me who are being excluded from being able to compete at the highest level. We need to see better equality for athletes with a learning disability."  More > 

Katrina Pearcy

1 September 2016: Southern Health NHS Trust Chief Executive finally resigns

The chief executive of a troubled NHS Trust has quit over "media attention".  More >

31 August 2016: Autism in women 'significantly under-diagnosed', says National Autistic Society 

The National Autistic Society is calling for changes and improvements in the diagnosis of girls and women with the condition. More >

Brian Rix

20 August 2016: Brian Rix, learning disability campaigner and actor, dies at 92

Brian Rix, one of the country’s leading campaigners for people with learning disabilities, has died aged 92. It was after his eldest daughter was born in 1951 with Down's syndrome that he began campaigning for people with learning disabilities. From 1980 to 1988 he was secretary general of Mencap, becoming chairman in 1988 and then president 10 years later - a role he occupied until his death.  More >

8 August 2016: Mendip House rated as 'Inadequate'

The Care Quality Commission have rated NAS' Mendip House, as Inadequate, following a series of inspections in May and June.

Inspectors found people living in the service had not been kept safe. A number of serious allegations, such as abuse, neglect and degrading treatment of people, had been made.  More >

Download the report >

5 August 2016: Inclusive P.E. within schools

Over the years, pupils have had some very different experiences of disability and school sport, Jimmy Smallwood writes. How clearly do PE teachers, even trainee PE teachers, understand the needs of all pupils, regardless of ability? And to what extent are PE teachers in mainstream schools supported to be able to include young people with disabilities within the PE curriculum?

“It is vital that every school child, with or without a disability, should have the same opportunities to participate in PE lessons at school, to gain positive experiences of sport which will enable them to be active throughout their entire life", says George, who has cerebral palsy and attended a mainstream school in the 2000s.  More >

down's syndrome

5 August 2016: Things people with Down's Syndrome are tired of hearing...

From being spoken to as if they are children, to assuming they can't work or have relationships. These seven statements are guaranteed to annoy people with Down's Syndrome.  More >


4 August 2016: Glee star Lauren Potter just got engaged

Remember Becky the cheerleader from the popular show, 'Glee'? Her sense of humour, witty lines and ability to deal with important issues on the show quickly made her a fan favourite. Lauren's long-time boyfriend Timothy Spear proposed to her with a promise ring at a picnic. In addition to her work in Glee, in 2011, Barack Obama appointed her to the President's Committee for people with Intellectual Disabilities, to advise the White House on related issues.  More >

2 August 2016: 'I fear my son will die in prison'

The mother of a British man accused of trying to shoot Donald Trump is launching a campaign to raise money to bring him home to the UK saying he's too ill to serve time in America.  More >

pokemon aug

1 August 2016: Pokemon Go 'transformed teenager's life'

A mobile phone game that has caught the attention of the world also appears to have caused a breakthrough with autism sufferers.

Pokémon Go, released in the UK in earlier this month, is played by users walking around the real world to catch virtual Pokémon animals.It appears the game's mix of real and virtual reality has helped to break down many of the social barriers autistic people feel when they are out in public.  More >

26 July 2016: Southern Health NHS Trust 'paid millions' to Chief Executive's associates 

Southern Health NHS Trust has paid millions of pounds to companies owned by previous associates of its embattled chief executive, says BBC News.

One firm received more than £5m despite winning a contract valued at less than £300,000, while another was paid more than £500,000 without bidding at all. Both are owned by former acquaintances of Southern Health NHS Trust's chief executive Katrina Percy.  More >

26 July 2016: “I did it. The disabled should all disappear,” says Japan knife attacker

Nineteen residents have been killed in a knife attack at a care centre for people with mental disabilities in the Japanese city of Sagamihara. 

Police have arrested a man who worked at the centre until February, and who turned himself into police after the attack. He reportedly said he wanted people with disabilities to "disappear".
More >

25 July 2016: Teenager hooded and restrained in Northern Territory juvenile detention

The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory (NT), Adam Giles, will seek advice on establishing a royal commission into the treatment of children in juvenile detention, after calls from lawyers acting for a number of youths whose shocking experience was shown on the ABC’s Four Corners program in Australia. 

CCTV footage showed the restraint and spit-hooding of one youth, as well as another being stripped and physically held down by guards on more than one occasion.  More >

Italy olympics

25 July 2016: Italy's first Olympics-like competition for people with Down's Syndrome

Italy have hosted the first world athletic competition just for people with Down's Syndrome, drawing athletes from 36 countries around the world. 

The week-long Trisome Games were held in Florence, Italy, and drew around 1,000 athletes. Competitors duked it out in swimming, synchronized swimming, track-style athletics, soccer, tennis, table tennis, judo and gymnastics. Every single athlete has Down Syndrome, an intellectual disability that affects about one in 1,000 live births worldwide.  More >

22 July 2016: Families win judicial review of council's decision to cut short break services

The families of two children with severe learning disabilities have been successful in a judicial review into local authority cuts to short breaks services, which they said would leave their children socially isolated.

The High Court declared that West Berkshire Council did not properly consider its legal duties before deciding to make the cuts, and that the subsequent decision was merely to “rubber stamp” the first decision without being able to cure the original flaws.  More >

21 July 2016: Care minister role downgraded in Theresa May's government reshuffle

The role of Social Care Minister has been downgraded following new prime minister Theresa May’s government reshuffle. The adult social care brief will now be overseen by parliamentary under-secretary of state for community health and care David Mowat.  
More >

Officers - ground

21 July 2016: Police shoot man trying to get his autistic patient to comply with officer

An autistic man’s therapist was shot and wounded by police in Florida while lying on the street with his hands in the air. Charles Kinsey was trying to get his 27-year-old patient back to a facility from where he wandered. A video shows Kinsey lying in the middle of the street with his hands up, asking the officers not to shoot him, while his patient sits next to him, yelling at him to “shut up”.  More >

20 July 2016: Inconsistent approach to safeguarding children across LSCBs

Local Safeguarding Children's Boards (LSCBs) have an inconsistent approach to safeguarding children with disabilities at Board level across England and overall have not made sufficient progress against Ofsted’s 2012 recommendations for improvement, a survey has found.

The report calls for local authorities, the police and the health service, as future key local partners to have arrangements in place that ensure the equal safeguarding and protection of children with disabilities and for future statutory guidance to identify measures that should be taken.  More >


19 July 2016: Happy Birthday, Changing Places campaign from Mencap and BILD!

People with profound and multiple learning disabilities often need extra facilities when using a public loo. Things like hoists, harnesses and full-size benches. And that's why Changing Places are changing lives. Since 2006 almost 860 Changing Places toilets have been installed across the country. Over 250,000 people now have access to facilities that keep them safe and comfortable when using the loo. 

So, join in and celebrate everything the Changing Places campaign has achieved. Join the fight for #incLOOsion!  More >


18 July 2016: Tasers have no place in mental health

Matilda MacAttram, director of Black Mental Health UK, writes "For more than 10 years, Tasers have been used against patents in locked psychiatric settings, without monitoring or investigation. This practice must end. What we are seeing is a health service relying on a forensic solution to meet clinical need, and yet policing really has no place in mental healthcare."   More >

18 July 2016: Campaigners call for urgent overhaul of eye test services

Eye health experts have called for a national scheme of longer, tailored sight tests for people with learning disabilities who are more likely to suffer problems or need glasses. Campaigners used a parliamentary reception – which was attended by more than 20 MPs and peers – to launch a national petition demanding a better deal for the one million adults with learning disabilities. More >  Sign the petition >

17 July 2016: Teacher sends boy with autism touching letter after failing exams

A mother was brought to tears after her 11-year-old son Ben, who has autism, failed his exams and received a touching letter from his teacher. His teacher, Mrs. Clarkson wrote, "A very important piece of information I want you to understand is that these tests only measure a little bit of you and your abilities."

The teacher went on to bullet point a list of Ben's other talents, including his artistic skills, independence, kindness, abilities in sports, ability to make friends and ability to work in a team.
More >


14 July 2016: Pokemon Go app set to help children with autism

An academic specialising in autism research says the hit game Pokemon Go will boost the social skills of children with autism.

One person who can see benefits is Kirsty Russell who has three children, two of which have autism. She said her kids' activity level has increased dramatically since playing the Pokemon Go game. "This gives them a social platform, a common interest; they can go and talk to other people in a non-challenging way, and often with a special interest that actually does interest them," she said.  More >


14 July 2016: Luke can’t move, drink or use the loo. The council offered him a tea urn

With the end of the independent living fund, the basics of dignity and safety for people with severe disabilities just aren’t being met. “Being alone for hours is hard,” says Luke Davey. 

With the ILF scrapped, and responsibility left solely with the county council, Luke had his care package cut almost in half. That’s the equivalent of six hours support a day. He’s been given little word on how he’s expected to get through the hours alone: to drink, use the bathroom, or move. At one point, he was told a solution would be to start using a tea urn, despite the fact he can neither coordinate his hands nor see it properly.  More >


14 July 2016: Fake cures for autism that can be deadly

Emma Dalmayne, with her son Damien and daughter Skylar, is battling against the dangerous poisons being sold to parents online that claim to treat autism and says the cures being touted amount to child abuse.  More >

14 July 2016: Staff with autism can offer employers rare skills

Some people with autism excel at IT and consultancies are matching their talents with employers. Auticon is a German consultancy that specialises in placing people with autism in work, in entry-level or highly skilled jobs in a range of technology specialisms.   More >


13 July 2016: Care services face cuts as council tax rises 'fail to stop care cuts'

Care services are facing cuts this year as rises in council tax have failed to plug the gaps in budgets in England, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) are warning.

The government allowed councils to increase council tax by 2% this year to spend on care - and most have done so. But, according to a survey of all 151 social care directors, there is still a shortfall of nearly £1bn.  More >


13 July 2016: "Everyone in the justice system needs to take disability hate crime seriously"

The Crown Prosecution Service has released figures showing the number of prosecutions for hate crimes against people with disabilities has risen by 41.3% in the last year.

As a result, Mencap have called for everyone in the criminal justice system to take disability hate crime seriously and apply the full strength of the law.  Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at Mencap said, “For too long the bullying, intimidation and harassment of people with disabilities has not been treated as seriously as crimes against other minority groups."   More >

13 July 2016: Every new teacher to learn about SEND from 2018, government confirms

Every new teacher in England will be required to learn about the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) as part of their initial teacher training from September 2018, the government has confirmed.
More >

12 July 2016: Somerset approves plans to outsource learning disabilities services

Somerset Council has approved plans to transfer its learning disabilities services to a new social enterprise.

The council said the move would help protect services from ‘decline and instability’ as it will be able to more provide more services that will appeal to younger users.  More >


7 July 2016: Magical garden of ceramic flowers blooms for summer

During the summer, 1,200 handmade ceramic flowers, produced in partnership with Creative Black Country and Sandwell disability day centre Creative Arts, will be planted in Tipton and West Bromwich.

The centre’s service users, who have a range of learning and physical disabilities, have been busy painting the glazes and putting the finishing touches to the flowers ready for public display in July.  More >

7 July 2016: Action on Hearing Loss launches campaign to make GPs aware of communication needs for people with a hearing loss

Action on Hearing Loss is encouraging the 9 million people in England who are deaf or have a hearing loss to make sure their GPs are aware of their communication needs. This call to the public comes as Action on Hearing Loss launches its latest campaign, 'On the Record', just ahead of NHS England's mandatory Accessible Information Standard coming into full source.  More >

6 July 2016: VODG argues for improved commissioning to seize the benefits of technology in care

The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) has launched a new report on how social care providers are embracing technology to improve services. 

The group argues that commissioning practices must keep pace with technological change to support quality improvement.  
Download the report >

6 July 2016: People with disabilities in Europe should not be treated as second class citizens

A report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been approved with an overwhelming majority in the European Parliament. 

The report's author, Flemish Member of the European Parliament Helga Stevens, who is the first female deaf MEP said that she was delighted. She said, “the large majority shows that the rights of persons with disabilities are to be taken seriously and are not merely a minority issue.”

Stevens asks that people with disabilities in Europe are not treated as second class citizens.  Watch clips of the press conference >

6 July 2016: CQC to review how NHS trusts investigate and learn from deaths

The Care Quality Commission is looking at how NHS acute, community healthcare and mental health trusts investigate deaths and learn from their investigations. They also want to assess whether opportunities to prevent deaths have been missed.
More >

6 July 2016: Northern Ireland Assembly told Trust working to identify disability spending gap

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has told local families affected by the Western Trust’s historical underspend on adults with learning disabilities, “The Western Trust is now working urgently, with the support of the HSCB to robustly and accurately quantify the spending gap that has occurred.”  More >

6 July 2016: Study backs NIPT for Down's syndrome screening pathway

Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) can form an effective element in a publicly funded national Down’s syndrome screening pathway, according to a UK based study.

Introducing NIPT as a contingent test in the UK screening pathway could reportedly reduce the number of these invasive tests carried out, reducing the associated number of miscarriages.  More >

5 July 2016: Demands of deprivation of liberty cases mean delays are inevitable’

Councils cannot rush deprivation of liberty applications despite the surge in cases if they are to safeguard people's rights, says The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.

Councils have been tackling a huge increase in the number of applications to deprive people of their liberty.  More >

5 July 2016: Care Minister will resign before next government reshuffle

Care Minister Alistair Burt has announced he will resign in September.

One of the most notable decisions made by Burt was the move to shelve the Care Act 2014 funding reforms. He has also overseen a consultation on a new national strategy for carers and the government’s response to the Law Commission’s deprivation of liberty law reforms.  More >

4 July 2016: SeeAbility calls for free eye tests 

See Ability launched their report, ‘Delivering an equal right to sight’, in parliament, which highlighted the issue of the NHS England’s national sight testing and funding system letting down the one million people with learning disabilities in England.
More >

4 July 2016: Patients in England set to benefit from accessing their GP record online

Over 55 million patients in England will be able to view test results as they come in and keep track of their glucose levels and cholesterol on their smartphones, enabling them to take greater control of their care and better manage their health.

Official figures reveal that over 95% of GP practices are now set up to offer online access to detailed GP records including test results and diagnoses as well as referrals, immunisations, procedures and medications history. This is up from just 3% of practices in January this year.  More >

4 July 2016: SeeAbility calls for free eye tests 

See Ability launched their report, ‘Delivering an equal right to sight’, in parliament, which highlighted the issue of the NHS England’s national sight testing and funding system letting down the one million people with learning disabilities in England.

They and leading eye health organisation the Local Optical Committee Support Unit are calling for an urgent overhaul of the system as there are huge levels of sight problems amongst people with learning disabilities and people are currently missing out on the eye care they need.  More >

4 July 2016: An inquiry into access to healthcare for autistic people

Following a seven-month inquiry and a consultation of over 900 people, the Westminster Commission on Autism launches its inquiry report and calls for improved access to healthcare for all autistic people.  More >

Download the report >  
Download the Easy read version of the report >

1 July 2016: 'People with learning disabilities are invisible'

In this guest post, Brandon Trust’s Lucy Hurst-Brown wonders whether the model of care and support for people with learning disabilities in the past 20 years has been got wrong and a new one is needed.  More >


1 July 2016: Chief executive of under fire Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust to keep job

The chief executive of a NHS Trust which has come under fire for its failure to properly investigate the deaths of mental health and learning disability patients will keep her job, it has been announced.

Tim Smart, who was installed by regulators as Southern Health’s interim chair in response to concerns over the Trust, said his “comprehensive review” concluded a restructure of the executive team was needed but Katrina Percy should continue as chief executive.  More >


1 July 2016: Thomas' online work plea gets him a job!

Thomas Cullen, a young man with learning disabilities, whose online appeal for employment bagged him not one, but three job offers! Thomas posted the video having failed to find a job after months of trying. He joined his mother on the Good Morning Britain sofa to talk more about his online work plea and his new role, working in the kitchens of a local restaurant in Thirsk.  Watch the interview >

1 July 2016: Keep the Nursing Directorate in the Department of Health

The Government is to scrap the nursing, midwifery and allied health professions policy unit. Given that the Francis report (2013) suggested that nursing had a 'weak voice', and that profession’s voice to be strengthened, this move is counterintuitive. Deborah Jayne Glover MBE has created a petition to keep the nursing directorate in the Department of Health. It needs 10,000 signatures in order for the debate to be considered in parliament.

Sign the petition >

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