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Landmark moment for learning disabled as campaigners hail victory

This news post is 11 months old

The right to live in their own community will be prioritised

Campaigners have hailed a “landmark for human rights” as authorities will no longer force people with learning disabilities in accommodation away from their own communities.

A report looking at why people with complex needs were in out-of-area placements and had inappropriate long stays in hospital has recommended a new national register of those with learning disabilities stuck in hospitals.

And a national oversight panel to hold local authorities to account.

Dozens of people with learning disabilities and complex needs are recorded as delayed discharges from hospital in Scotland.

They can often be stuck for many years in a hospital or care institution when they ought to be discharged to live in the community.

The numbers for those with autism or learning disabilities who are held out of their local area are not routinely recorded.

By March 2024 the Scottish Government and Cosla have now said clearly that no person who has a learning disability in Scotland will be in hospital if they do not need to be, and no one will be forced to live away from the communities they want to live in.

Enable Scotland members led the My Own Front Door (MOFD) campaign which called for urgent action and influenced the change.

Its director Jan Savage said: “This is a landmark moment for the human rights of people who have a learning disability in Scotland.

“But the day for real celebration will be the day we know that no one is still stuck in hospital or living in communities where they don’t want to be.

“This report sets out a clear and important message for commissioners of social care, individuals and families alike - from today, Scotland takes a zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate accommodation for people who have learning disabilities and autistic people.

“We welcome the national approach to supporting and monitoring progress, and the introduction of a new independent panel to ensure that the human rights of every person affected are fully upheld as we now begin the process with pace to support every person to access their rights to live in the home they choose, in the community they choose, close to the people they love.

She added: “Two years is still a long time. It is crucial that all support and continued investment is made to remove any barriers to achieving this over the next 24 months. Our campaign will continue to make sure progress is made quickly, and that Scotland meets this deadline. The human rights of our fellow citizens are depending on it.”

John Feehan, who led the launch of the MOFD campaign, said: “About time. We have already waited too long for this.  I will be happier in March 2024 when we know that this deadline has been met.

“We will keep campaigning for our human rights to make sure that it is.”

Mental wellbeing minister Kevin Stewart said for every day spent unnecessarily in hospital, a person loses part of their connection with their community, their family, and their friends.

"We are not protecting the rights of people with learning disabilities and complex needs if they remain in hospital when they should be living at home, or in a homely environment with the right support,” he said.

"The recommendations are key to achieving our mission to significantly reduce delayed discharge and inappropriate out-of-area placements for adults with learning disabilities and complex care needs by March 2024.

"Visibility and accountability are critical."



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11 months ago

This was meant to happen after the Winterbourne scandal. The cost is enormous and local authorities simply didn't have the money. The SNP government needs to fund councils to manage this. Also guard against more group homes popping up for economies of scale.