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Transforming learning disability services in communities

Nick Clarke Nick Clarke

More than ever, individuals with learning and physical disabilities are able to enjoy longer, better quality lives. This is down to medical advances and the tireless work of the NHS, social services, practitioners, families and carers.

Young people with profound disabilities are more likely to survive during their early years. And more individuals are living to 65 and over - now at 10% across several local authorities.

This is undeniably positive progress. But it is also no surprise that the pressure on local authorities has increased as more people need support. And, in the age of austerity and central government cuts, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for local authorities to meet this demand.

The big challenge ahead

In the last year alone, total net spend on learning disability support for adults aged 18-64 increased by 3.6% to £4.55 billion. This equated to a net increase of £159 million.

Based on our latest analysis working with councils, we have forecast that this will increase by at least 20% over the next five years, adding a minimum £1 billion to council budgets – or £10 million a year by FY22/23 for a median council.

The heart of transformation in disability services

When most people think of transformation in disability services, they think of high cost placement reviews and increasing the shared lives scheme.

History and current realities show that neither strategy will make a significant difference long term. Why? Because neither strategy tackles the biggest challenge in disability services – that the market for supported living accommodation (SLA) and extra care housing (ECH) for most councils isn’t sufficiently developed or nuanced to allow real transformation to occur.

SLA and ECH mean quite different things to different people. This is because they each cover a huge range of different accommodation and support provisions with very different cost implications.

Helping you understand your SLA and ECH needs

Understanding the future demand (and cost implications) on disability services is an important first step. But understanding exactly what types of SLA and ECH you need now and in the future, and then strategically developing and sourcing it, is critical to achieving both multi-million pound savings and positively transforming the lives of your learning disability population.

Through our work with one local authority we uncovered stark results: people with very similar needs were being supported in very different types of SLA or ECH, with cost differences of several hundred pounds per week. The reason behind this was simple – it was all that was currently available in their local care market.

Disability Foresight is a rigorous and fully tested set of tools and models we've developed that helps local authorities answer the big questions around their current and future spend on learning disability services and how to sustain it. To discuss in more detail, how our Disability Foresight service can help you, get in touch with Nick Clarke.

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