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Learning disabilities - policy

Each country in the United Kingdom is pursuing social inclusion policies. We will ensure that you know which policies are operating where you work and also include key reports and legislation that have informed the policy.

Government departments and other national bodies are arranged in alphabetical order, items which are dated are arranged chronologically with the most recent first.

You might also like to refer to the guidance and agencies and communities sections for further information on people with learning disabilities.

Some of the resources below are in PDF format - see how to access PDF files.

UK wide

Joint Committee on Human Rights (2008a) A life like any other?: human rights of adults with learning disabilities: seventh report of session 2007-08
Volume 1: report and formal minutes. The report covers: adults with learning disabilities; the importance of human rights; living with a learning disability; the treatment of adults with learning disabilities in health and residential care settings; parenting and family life; treatment of people with learning disabilities in the criminal justice setting; barriers to an 'ordinary life' and putting human rights principles into practice.

Joint Committee on Human Rights (2008b) A life like any other?: human rights of adults with learning disabilities: seventh report of session 2007-08
Volume 2: oral and written evidence.

NHS Confederation (2014) Joint pledge on adult safeguarding
The NHS Confederation and four other leading bodies that represent statutory organisations which work with and support vulnerable people have jointly signed up to a pledge on adult safeguarding. The five organisations - the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Local Government Association, NHS Clinical Commissioners and the NHS Confederation - represent the core statutory bodies tasked with implementing the Care Bill, which will put safeguarding on a statutory footing.

Scottish Government (2012) Strengthening the commitment: The report of the UK Modernising Learning Disabilities Nursing Review
This report aims to ensure that people with learning disabilities of all ages have access to expert learning disabilities nurses and that their families and carers get the best support and care. It also seeks to make best use of learning disabilities nurses throughout the entire health and social care system and improve the career image of learning disabilities nursing as a whole. The review was commissioned and led by the Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland on behalf of chief nursing officers across the UK. It involved a four-country partnership approach and included wide stakeholder involvement.

Legislation

Care Standards Act 2000
The aim of this Act is to reform the law relating to the inspection and regulation of various care institutions. It also includes the protection of vulnerable adults.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and 2005
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) aims to protect disabled people from discrimination. This Act was extended in 2005 now giving disabled people rights in the areas of employment; education; access to goods, facilities and services; buying or renting land or property and functions of public bodies.

Mental Capacity Act 2005
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides a statutory framework to empower and protect vulnerable people who are not able to make their own decisions. It makes it clear who can take decisions, in which situations, and how they should go about this. It enables people to plan ahead for a time when they may lose capacity.

England

Department of Health (2012) Transforming care: A national response to Winterbourne View Hospital Department of Health Review. Final report
This report sets out the government’s final response to the events at Winterbourne View hospital and the wider review of care across England for people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. It sets out the model of care that has been shown to offer the best quality of life and support and to improve outcomes. "In summary, the norm should always be that children, young people and adults live in their own homes with the support they need for independent living within a safe environment. Evidence shows that community-based housing enables greater independence, inclusion and choice, and that challenging behaviour lessens with the right support. People with challenging behaviour benefit from personalised care, not large congregate settings". The report describes the key principles of high quality and outlines the roles and responsibilities required to provide a good service. It sets out a range of national actions which the Department of Health and its partners are to deliver to lead a redesign in care and support for people with learning disabilities or autism and mental health conditions or behaviours viewed as challenging. There is an accompanying Concordat and series of good practice examples.

The Department of Health, NHS England, Local Government Association, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Care Quality Commission and the National Forum of People with Learning Disabilities have also issued a joint statement two years after Winterbourne View which emphasises these organisations’ commitment to making the lives of people with learning disabilities better and safer, and improving their health and care. View: joint statement.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) Strategic plan 2010-2015 - position statement and action plan for learning disability (PDF 313KB)
The CQC has published a five-year plan outlining how it will drive up standards on behalf of people with learning disability. Links to the five year strategic plan and easy read version are available.

Commission for Social Care Inspection, Healthcare Commission and Mental Health Act Commission (2009) Commissioning services and support for people with learning disabilities and complex needs (PDF 925KB)
The Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission worked together in nine areas of England to see how well people with learning disabilities and complex needs were being supported by local services. This report gives the findings from these nine reviews.

Department for Children Schools and Families (2008) Bullying involving children with special educational needs and disabilities: safe to learn: embedding anti-bullying work in schools
This guidance provides advice on dealing with bullying involving children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities.

Department of Health: Learning disabilities
This Department of Health webpage includes a selection of resources relating to learning disability.

Department of Health (2010) Personalisation through Person - Centred Planning
This joint good practice guidance published by the Putting People First and Valuing People Now teams has been developed to help local areas understand how person-centred planning can help to deliver Putting People First.

Department of Health (2010) Inclusion health: improving primary care for socially excluded people
This guidance document provides practical support for commissioning to improve access to and quality of primary care services for socially excluded people.  The guidance outlines some of the key barriers and challenges in service provision for socially excluded people. It identifies a series of underlying principles and features which are present in services which successfully meet the needs of socially excluded people and highlights best practice case studies. The Inclusion health study and the accompanying evidence pack is available via an archived version of the Cabinet Office website – see Inclusion health.

Department of Health (2010) Valuing people now delivery plan 2010-11
The Valuing People Now: Delivery Plan for 2010-11 was published together with a range of materials to support the implementation of Valuing People Now, the cross government strategy for people with learning disabilities.

Department of Health (2010) Raising our sights: services for adults with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities
This report, written by Professor Jim Mansell, and commissioned as part of the Valuing People Now delivery plan highlights the most important parts of planning and delivering support for people with the most complex needs.

Department of Health (2010) Healthcare for people with learning disabilities: recommendations of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
The Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman's report, 'Six Lives', highlighted failings in health and social care services that led to premature and avoidable deaths of people with learning disabilities. These Dear Colleague letters set out the action needed to respond to the recommendations set out in the 'Six Lives' report. View the 'Six Lives' report: Six lives: progress report on healthcare for people with learning disabilities.

The second progress report on the Ombudsman’s recommendations, published by the Department of Health in July 2013, demonstrates that more people with learning disabilities have taken up the opportunity of an annual health check to improve their health and enable preventive interventions to stop potential health crises. The report also provides an assessment of the improvements to health care and treatment for people with learning disabilities and family carers since the previous progress report published in October 2010 see: Six lives: progress report on healthcare for people with learning disabilities

Department of Health (2009) Valuing people now: a new three-year strategy for people with learning disabilities
Valuing people sets out the Government's strategy for people with learning disabilities for the next three years. It responds to the main recommendations in Healthcare for All, the independent inquiry into access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities. It is a new vision for improving services for people with learning disabilities across health, housing, employment and community care services. It follows a comprehensive consultation involving more than 10,000 people.

Department of Health (2009) Health action planning and health facilitation for people with learning disabilities: good practice guidance
This guidance provides practical support in putting people with learning disabilities at the centre of all action relating to their health.

Department of Health (2007) Valuing people now: from progress to transformation - a consultation on the next three years of learning disability policy
'Valuing People Now' seeks people's views on the priorities for the learning disability agenda over the next three years. It is a major consultation exercise which aims to reframe priorities in a new three year delivery programme.

Department of Health (2005) Valuing people: The story so far… A new strategy for learning disability for the 21st Century - Long report
This report reviews the progress achieved since the publication of Valuing People in 2001, and it recommends priorities for action for the next five years.

Department of Health et al (2005) Improving the life chances of disabled people
This report sets out an ambitious programme of action that will bring disabled people fully within the scope of the 'opportunity society'. By supporting disabled people to help themselves, a step change can be achieved in the participation and inclusion of disabled people.

Department of Health (2004) Rights, independence, choice and inclusion
This is the second report of the Department of Health's learning disabilities taskforce.

Department of Health (2001) Valuing people. A new strategy for learning disability for the 21st Century
This White Paper sets out the Department of Health's commitment to improving the life chances of people with learning disabilities. It covers England and was the first White Paper for people with learning disabilities for 30 years.

Improving Health and Lives (2011) People with learning disabilities in England 2010
This Learning Disabilities Observatory report brings together information on the characteristics of people with learning disabilities, the services and supports they use and their carers. This information has been collected by several government departments and aims to provide a concise summary of this information and to provide links to key data collections. The report includes data on health, education, adult social care, employment, benefits and carers. It also highlights progress being made on the implementation of key health and social care policies for people with learning disabilities.

Independent inquiry into access to health care for people with learning disabilities (2008) Healthcare for all
This inquiry identified the action needed to ensure adults and children with learning disabilities receive appropriate treatment in acute and primary health care in England.

Learning Disability Taskforce
The learning disability taskforce was established to help address the issues faced by people with a learning disability. It consists of a team of academic experts, representatives of voluntary organisations, health and social care professionals, family carers and people with a learning disability themselves. The taskforce meets several times a year to talk about the many challenges faced by people with a learning disability.

NHS Confederation (2010) Delivering same-sex accommodation in mental health and learning disability services
This briefing summarises existing national policy and good practice on same-sex accommodation, explains what support is available to organisations that need to make improvements. It sets out what both providers and commissioners can do to ensure same-sex accommodation becomes a reality for all. 

NHS Confederation (2009) Commissioning healthcare for people with learning disabilities
A briefing looking at the development of commissioning of healthcare for people with learning disabilities.

Valuing People Now (2009) Valuing Employment Now (PDF 508KB)
Valuing Employment Now sets out the cross-government strategy and action plan needed to increase the number of people with learning disabilities in employment. It sets an ambitious goal to radically increase the number of people with learning disabilities in employment by 2025.

Northern Ireland

DHSSPS (2009) Delivering the Bamford Vision. Action Plan 2009-2011 (PDF 635KB)
This action plan sets out the government’s commitment to improving mental health and wellbeing of the population of Northern Ireland and to driving service improvement for those with a mental health need or a learning disability. An easy read version is also available. View: Making life better for people with a learning disability and people with mental health problems who live in Northern Ireland (PDF 905KB)

DHSSPS (2008) A strategy and action plan to promote equality, good relations and human rights
A Strategy and Action Plan to promote and mainstream equality, good relations and human rights within health and social care. It complements the Investing for Health strategy, which also tackles health inequalities.

Northern Ireland Executive (2008) Delivering the Bamford vision
The Northern Ireland Executive's response to the Bamford Review (a consultation).

Northern Ireland Executive (2007) Bamford Review of mental health and learning disability: Promoting social inclusion (PDF 4.3MB)
This report identifies the reasons why people with mental health problems or a learning disability are often excluded from the kind of everyday life that others take for granted and makes recommendations to improve their inclusion in society.

Northern Ireland Executive (2005) Bamford Review of mental health and learning disability equal lives: Review of policy and services for people with a learning disability in Northern Ireland
Equal Lives is the second report from the Review. It sets out a compelling vision for developing services for men, women and children with a learning disability for the next 15 to 20 years.

Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority: Mental health and learning disability
The framework for the delivery of health and social care services in Northern Ireland is changing. This includes changes in the delivery of Mental Health & Learning Disability functions in Northern Ireland.

Scotland

NHS Health Scotland (2004) Health Needs Assessment Report. People with learning disabilities in Scotland
This Health Needs Assessment was undertaken in response to the first recommendation of Promoting Health, Supporting Inclusion: The National Review of the Contribution of All Nurses and Midwives to the Care and Support of People with Learning Disabilities. The recommendations within the Health Needs Assessment Report are aimed at reducing health inequalities, to promote social inclusion.

NHS Quality Improvement Scotland (2006) Learning disability services - a national overview
The report looks at the progress towards the implementation of the Quality Indicators, which were published in February 2004. These reports have information on NHS services and on the progress that has been made towards the closure of learning disability long-stay hospitals.

Scottish Government (2008) Equally Well: Report of the Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities
A Ministerial Task Force report which states that NHS Board areas must ensure the fair and equitable access of people with learning disabilities.

Scottish Executive (2007) Better Health, Better care
This Action Plan places emphasis on prevention and health inequalities, particularly health inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities.

Scottish Executive (2006) Changing Lives: Report of the 21st century social work review
Report of the recommendations made by the 21st Century Social Work Review Group for the future of social services in Scotland. Services need to be open to 'developing the aspirations of people with learning disabilities, and must protect those who may be vulnerable from bullying and challenging behaviour'.

Scottish Executive (2003) Working for a change? The same as you? National Implementation Group Report of the short-life working group on employment
In June 2001 the Scottish Executive set up the National Implementation Group to oversee the implementation of the 29 recommendations in 'The same as you?' The group decided on three priority areas which it considered would have a significant impact on quality of life for people with learning disabilities. This is the final report of the short-life working group on employment for people with learning disabilities.

Scottish Executive (2002) Promoting Health, Supporting Inclusion - The national review of the contribution of all nurses and midwives to the care and support of people with learning disabilities
A national nursing review of the contributions required from all nurses and midwives to meet the health needs of children and adults with learning disabilities, to improve health and support inclusion. This document is also available in an easy read format.

Scottish Executive (2000) The same as you? A review of services for people with learning disabilities
This review provides the framework for the development of supports and services for people with learning disabilities in Scotland. The review has 29 recommendations and acts as a blueprint for services over the next 10 years.

Legislation

Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007
Legislation to better protect adults at risk of harm.

OPSI (2007) Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 asp 14

Wales

Independent Inquiry into access to health care for people with learning disabilities (2008) Healthcare for all
This inquiry identified the action needed to ensure adults and children with learning disabilities receive appropriate treatment in acute and primary health care in England.

Learning Disabilities Advisory Group
The Learning Disability Implementation Advisory Group (LDIAG) advises the Welsh Assembly on all issues around learning disabilities. It is key in forming Welsh Assembly policy for people with learning disabilities.

National Public Health Service for Wales (2008) Monitoring the public health impact of health checks for adults with a learning disability in Wales - User Experience (Word 1.1MB)
Since April 2006 adults with learning disabilities in Wales have been entitled to receive an annual health check from their general practitioner. During the scheme’s first year 2910 people received a health check. This report presents the findings of a study which explored the views of a sample of health check recipients about the process of having a check.

Welsh Assembly Government (2008) A well being and mental health service fit for Wales (PDF 186.3KB)
This paper recommends is that a statutory body responsible for mental health and well being in Wales is established.

Welsh Assembly Government (2007) Statement on policy and practice for adults with a learning disability
The statement places more emphasis on the importance of people with learning disabilities as decision-makers, promoting sustainable individual planning throughout people's lives.

Welsh Assembly Government  (2004) Learning Disability Strategy: Section 7 guidance on service principles and service responses
In August 2004, the Welsh Assembly Government issued its Section 7 Service Principles and Service Responses Guidance for authorities. This sets out the service principles and responses that authorities should adopt on issues affecting the lives of adults and older people with learning disabilities.