Knowing which providers really understand PBS and having a voice through Learning Disability England

08 March 2016

I had a very busy week last week and only managed to visit four services. One of those was 31 Bushey Hall Road in Hertfordshire where I was extremely impressed with the quality of daily diaries. They are completed fully and clearly gave excellent evidence of the achievements of the people that we support. I am also very impressed by the fact that three of the five people living there have active voluntary jobs and one has a paid job as a sports coach running activities with people with learning disabilities. He was trained as a coach through our partnership with Tottenham Hotspur. Congratulations also go to the staff team at 53 Rutland Gardens in Hove who received a very good CQC report last week. It was rated as good on all five areas and good overall.

One of the reasons why I was particularly busy last week is that I attended meetings about a variety of different national schemes affecting people with learning disabilities. I am part of the NHS England provider forum which advises NHS England on the “Transforming Care” programme to move people from hospitals into the community. One of the things that we talked about was the need for a national accreditation scheme for positive behaviour support (PBS). One of the concerns in the sector is that everyone is now claiming to be a PBS specialist and we need a scheme that helps commissioners, families and people we support to be able to tell whether an organisation really does understand PBS or is just claiming to do so. I think it is likely that an accreditation scheme will be developed in the next few months and I am actively supporting that. The work is likely to be led by the PBS Academy and we would want to play an active role.

The other very important development nationally is the establishment of Learning Disability England. The Housing and Support Alliance is an organisation representing providers who support people with learning disabilities and I am a member of their Board. The Housing and Support Alliance has decided to turn itself into Learning Disability England which will be a body representing providers, families and people we support. It will be launched in June this year and there is a lot of work underway planning how the organisation will operate. The aim is that people we support and families have an equal say alongside providers in how the organisation is run and the work that is does. This is a really important opportunity to help people and families have a voice and also to provide much needed national leadership in the sector. I am very struck by the absence of clear leadership for learning disability services in England. Looking back a few years, we used to have the Valuing People Team who gave a very clear lead on policy. Now, there is very little leadership and we see this in very different approaches taken by different local authority commissioners. When Learning Disability England is established, they will be recruiting members who will pay a small fee. We will actively encourage people we support, our staff and families to become members of Learning Disability England and I think that CMG should subsidise the cost of membership for people we support so that money does not prevent them exercising their rights.

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