On 20th October 2023, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published the most recent State of Care report about health and social care in England in 2022/23.
This report raises a number of key issues around care and support for people with a learning disability. In particular, the cost of living crisis is having a serious impact on the care and support that people with a learning disability receive. Recruitment and retainment issues have led to a skills and workforce gap, where people with a learning disability are unable to access the skilled care and support that they need. Providers, faced with rising costs and staff shortages, are reducing the care that they provide, handing back contracts, and in some cases are closing down completely. Unpaid carers are unable to access support and are experiencing serious financial burdens, making it harder for them to keep going and to cope. The government needs to take immediate action, with sustained investment in the workforce, making sure that providers are able to continue to provide care, and ensuring that unpaid carers can access the right support.
The report also states many things that we already know – that inpatient units are inappropriate and harmful to people with a learning disability; that restrictive practices are traumatizing and can breach human rights; and that there is not enough understanding of communication. We have seen these points raised and evidenced time and again, and it is essential that action is taken to stop this harm being done to people with a learning disability.
We are pleased to see that CQC will be focusing on improving the physical health of people with a learning disability in the future. We agree with the issues raised in both this report and their report last year about the poor quality of care and barriers to accessing this for people with a learning disability, and we hope that their focus on the quality of annual health checks, reasonable adjustments, and removing barriers to accessing healthcare will lead to improvements.
The report also states that we need significant investment in and improvement of community support – a point made repeatedly by many individuals and organisations over many years – but which the Government still has no strategic plan to deliver. Community support includes early intervention, intensive and crisis support, the availability of a range of good quality housing options (including alternative and short-term accommodation), and skilled and well-resourced community teams.
We know that it is possible to get things right for people with a learning disability in the community, but there is a need for a systemic approach and proper investment so that everyone with a learning disability, wherever they are in the country, can get the right support, in the right place, at the right time. All parts of the system need to take action urgently – and we look to CQC to work with other key partners and take forward actions to make this a reality.
Support from the CBF
Resources on our website
The CBF has information available for anyone who has concerns about the issues raised which can be found here:
Family Support Service
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this statement, you can call the Family Support Service on 0300 666 0126
Or email us at email@example.com
We are open at the following times:
Monday – Thursday: 9am – 5pm
Friday: 9am – 3pm
We offer information about challenging behaviour to anyone who provides support to a child, young person or adult with a severe learning disability. We can also signpost you to other specialist organisations and sources of information.
Please note we are a small support service so you may not be able to get support straight away. We will support families with urgent concerns as a priority.
Professionals are also welcome to contact the CBF.