Move to help Derbyshire people with learning disabilities

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A NEW programme aiming to give people with learning disabilities more opportunities, choice and control over their lives is being introduced.

The Derbyshire County Council programme, called `Community Lives’ was agreed by the council’s Cabinet this week (Tuesday 2 August) and will run for three years.

The Community Lives programme will lead to increased educational, leisure, housing and employment opportunities as well as more of an involvement in the local community for adults with learning disabilities.

A series of workshops will be just one way they will be able to talk about the services they receive and what they would like in the future.

The Community Lives programme will offer people with learning disabilities and family carers the opportunity to tell the council what’s important to them in the future and how care and support could be changed to better meet their needs.

Carers and families of people with learning disabilities, county council staff, health bodies and voluntary sector organisations will all be asked what they think and how more options could be offered or provided.

The information will then be used to draw up a plan which will set out what the council can offer people or what it can help them to do during the day.

This could see people deciding to take part in more activities in the community, rather than using day services, for example, taking up paid employment, further education or volunteering, Around 1,000 people with a learning disability use council and independent day services across the county and there are 16 council day services establishments.

People with learning disabilities who do not use day services and those already taking part in activities in the community rather than using day centres will also be able to take part in Community Lives.

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Care Councillor Charles Jones said: “One of our priorities is giving more choice and control to people with learning disabilities and the Community Lives programme is one way of achieving this.

“The emphasis will be on the person with learning disabilities telling us what they want from life and us helping them to find ways this can be achieved.”

Councillor Jones added: “Nationally and locally there is a continuation of the drive towards helping people with learning disabilities live more fulfilled, healthy and safe lives.

“This is written down in the Government’s Valuing People Now policy and our Community Lives programme gives us the opportunity to take a fresh look at how our current services are used and extend the range of choice for people. We also want to make sure that we use our resources efficiently.

“We will be able to support people who want to move away from more traditional day services as well as people who will still need a base for their services because of their particular needs.”

Over the next two years the council will work with people with learning disabilities to complete reassessments as part of the work required to move over to having a personal budget.

This means they will be allocated a set amount of money (a personal budget) and will be able to plan and buy the support they want rather than having to use what is currently on offer.

Some services, for example for people with profound disabilities and complex needs, will keep their direct funding from the council.

Community Lives events and workshops will be held across the county from now until October and a range of people will be invited to attend.

A plan will then be drawn up and considered by the council’s Cabinet in late autumn.