Time to come home

November 22, 2018 Blog - ENABLE Scotland

Jan Savage – Director of Campaigns and Membership


An important new report, Coming Home, has been published this week by the Scottish Government which reveals how many people with learning disabilities are still being cared for away from their own community.

The report’s author, Dr Anne MacDonald, has found that more than 700 people from Scotland are being cared for away from their own area, and for almost half of them, this has been the case for more than 10 years.

79 people have had to move out of Scotland altogether.

453 of these people did not choose to be cared from away from their own area

109 of them have been identified as needing to move home as a priority.

ENABLE Scotland was founded in 1954 by families who wanted their children to have the same rights as everyone else. ENABLE Scotland has fought for these rights over the last 65 years, and the right to live in your own home with your own community supported by the people you choose is now a reality for many – indeed most.

The Scottish Government direction on this is clear, and has been since the Scottish Government Learning Disability Strategy Same As You in 2000, and again in the Keys to Life in 2013 – all people who have a learning disability in Scotland have the right to live in their own home, in their own community, supported by the people they choose, to live the life they choose. 

This policy direction is supported by the best legislative framework possible –the Social Care (Self Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013, which enshrines the rights of people to direct their own support, and to be at the centre of all decisions about their lives.

So it is disappointing that we have so many people identified in the Coming Home report as being supported to live in areas and communities which are not of their choice.

Dr MacDonald’s report makes several key recommendations around strengthening social care services in the community, supporting family carers, improving commissioning and planning of services and housing, and developing the social care workforce.

An urgent priority for Integration Joint Boards must now be designing creative solutions – in partnership with providers – to support people who want to live in their own homes in Scotland to do so, and to work with providers to put excellent community-based health and social care support in place.

The role for the third sector in this is well established – working with people to explore their wishes from a human rights-based approach is what we do. We are also experienced in working with NHS Trusts and local authorities to support people to live independently in their own homes for the first time – people who would have historically been placed in institutions.  It can be done – we know, because we do it.

Having supported thousands of people to live in their own home in their own community over the last 65 years, it is vital that we resist any regression to placing people who have learning disabilities back in institutional settings.

It is not all about money. It is about choices and taking the time to plan – collectively and creatively – with the person at the heart of the process

We have come a long way as a society since 1954 for people who have a learning disability, and ENABLE Scotland feels strongly that in 2018, we can – and must – do better.

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