Back to Bedlam

Author: Robin Jackson

This authoritative review of recent public policy and practice around support of people with a learning disability argues that we have reached a critical point of crisis. Government has failed to listen to people, families or their best allies. Instead policy has been shaped by inhuman drives that endanger people's dignity and their proper place in the community.

Decades of slow progress, often led by families and disabled people, has been reversed as local government and the NHS increasingly rely on institutional services, often provided by large, private-sector corporations, with no commitment to human rights. The declining standard of public policy has been accelerated by austerity which has justified cuts in support and basic income which are in breach of international standards. Moreover these policies have been imposed without any significant accountability or discussion.

Perhaps most worryingly, resistance to these policies is minimal. Most charities, advocacy bodies and academics seem to lack the independence, integrity or organisational will to stand up for the basic human rights and interests of those they exist to serve. This has the effect of blinding the general public to the severity of the current crisis and the need of urgent action.

The report makes a series of important recommendations:

  1. The government should promote and ensure the full realisation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities which are set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  2. The government should accord an equivalence of regard to a Ministry of Disability as to any other government department.
  3. Charities representing people with a learning disability should be more assertive and challenge government policy when and where it is seen to be disadvantageous to people with a learning disability and their families.
  4. Charities should avoid any arrangements with government agencies that have the potential of threatening their operational independence and functioning.
  5. Advocacy services representing people with a learning disability should be financially resourced from central government and be given the freedom to operate free of external interference.
  6. Social care should be treated separately from the National Health Service in order to safeguard its professional integrity and ensure access to adequate financial resources.
  7. A new regulatory body for social services should be established to replace the ineffective and discredited Care Quality Commission.
  8. The practice of successive governments outsourcing social care provision to large companies should cease.
  9. The government should encourage local authorities, charities and private providers to explore and develop a new range of day and residential services for people with a learning disability.
  10. The government should closely monitor the introduction of technological developments within the social and health services which have the potential to threaten the wellbeing of people with a learning disability.

Read and download the free pdf in your browser, link below.

The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.

Back to Bedlam © Robin Jackson 2017.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.


Paper | 24.07.17

Deinstitutionalisation, intellectual disabilities, social care, England, Paper

Robin Jackson


Author of Who Cares and Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire

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