Opportunities for Change

Vivien Cooper introduces the latest newsletter from the Challenging Behaviour Foundation.

Vivien Cooper CBF CEO

When my son was very young, I naively thought that there would be a well organised and co-ordinated support system, that would work with us as a family to ensure that Daniel developed and thrived and had the same life opportunities as a non-disabled child. I quickly realised that health, social care and education were three separate entities, each with their own particular “parts” of responsibility – with little communication or co-ordination between the three. This confusing and chaotic system is the last thing you need when you are struggling to support a relative who displays behaviour described as challenging.

Change can be difficult for us all, but sometimes big changes can provide real opportunities. Two new Acts have recently come into force: the Care Act and the Children and Families Act. Families consistently tell us that they want good information good support for their relative to enable them to have a good quality of life, and to be valued as key partners. The new Children and Families Act provides the potential for this to be delivered- the challenge will be to ensure that this translates to good outcomes for people. Crucial to this will be good information and support to put the changes into practice in ways that properly engage and support families as key partners.

The joint CBF and Council for Disabled Children Early Intervention Project is at the end of its first year. Working in partnership with families, children, young people and professionals we considered what works and what doesn’t work for children with learning disabilities who display challenging behaviour and their families. The consequences of getting it wrong are significant and long lasting – highlighting these situations is a way to ensure that the changes needed actually happen. The CBF works hard to be solution focussed – but this requires being honest about poor support and services (and we see too much of this) and what needs to change - as well as celebrating and sharing good support (as, for example, in our film “Everybody Matters”).

In addition to ensuring that early intervention and support is in place, there are changes to be made in current provision for the children and adults where a lack of support and services has resulted in their needs not being met. Three years on from the Panorama programme that exposed the abuse at Winterbourne View, Government figures show that the promised transformation of support and service provision remains unacceptably slow. The Minister responsible, Norman Lamb, described this as an “abject failure”.

The human cost of such a failure is huge and long lasting. That is why we must take every opportunity we have to deliver the changes required. We know what to do to support people well, and we must take the necessary actions now – at an individual, local and national level, to deliver that - for everyone, right from the start.

This article is taken from our Summer newsletter. You can download a PDF version of the full newsletter or read it online on Issuu.

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