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County council unveils plans to overhaul learning disability services across Staffordshire

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: January 03, 2014

By Robin Scott

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NEW bespoke centres and support packages will help people with learning disabilities ‘live better, more fulfilled lives’, Staffordshire’s care chief has said.

Staffordshire County Council cabinet member for care Alan White, said the new plans were created following a three-month consultation that saw 750 people across the county offer their thoughts on three possible options.

“The review of how we support people with learning disabilities is all about improving the quality of support people receive to live better, more fulfilled lives rather than ‘fitting’ people into what is already available,” said Councillor White.

“It is about offering people choices and flexibility, focussing on what people can achieve with the right support and absolutely where possible making sure this is as valued active members of our community.”

If approved, the new plans will see an assessment of people with learning disabilities, as well as one of existing centres and services to see how they may be developed to create smaller specialist centres serving a borough or district areas.

The majority of current sites are expected to be retained, depending on the size and condition of the range of buildings available.

“Over the years we have seen more and people with learning disabilities look to find jobs or voluntary work and they have really blossomed in the community, which is something we want for as many as people as possible,” said Councillor White.

“However, from the outset we have recognised that there are some residents who have very complex needs and they will always need a high-level of support and that it is why we want to take what already works well in larger centres and improve on this in creating even better care in smaller more bespoke centres.”

Under the new plans, support packages for people who can live independently with the right help, could include a range of alternatives including education, employment and a variety of day activities within the local community.

Councillor White said: “Before we even started the consultation we looked at how best we could communicate the options being considered and I am delighted that so many took the time to respond.

“While many expressed concerns about change, which is only natural, I would like to reassure families that these changes are about making places better and lives better by giving the right support to people as individuals rather than accepting something poorer simply because it has always been there.

“It is hugely important that we recognise today’s aspirations of people with learning disabilities, particularly younger adults, and we can’t do this by staying the same.”

The report from the consultation and the recommendations will now be considered by the Healthy Staffordshire Committee on January 13 and by Cabinet on January 15.

Will these proposals effect you or someone close to you? Let us know what you think by posting here, tweeting us @StaffsNews, emailing robin.scott@staffordshirenewspapers.co.uk or calling us during working hours on 01785 270 515.

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