• Prev
  • 1
  • Next

14th LDAG meeting by Liz Majer

Liz Majer

I have attended three or four meetings of the LDAG now as representative of the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) in Wales. The group has been together for some time and I feel I am just beginning to get to know people and how they feel about things that affect the lives of people with a learning disability. It is a very interesting group as everyone is very different, but it is clear that we are all committed to improving the lives of people with a learning disability and their families. I am encouraged that at this meeting people with a learning disability, their carers and professionals who work with them are treated equally and all listen to each other. The meeting starts with a reminder of the ground rules that members are expected to follow throughout.

As a Director of Social Services for Blaenau Gwent I am aware of the major cultural change that will be introduced with the Social Services and Well Being Act in April 2016 and feel this is a great opportunity for me to be engaged in something like LDAG. One of the items on the agenda was about collecting information in a different way so we are not just counting numbers of people but considering what difference services make to people's lives. There will be further work on this to ensure we collect the information we need to plan services better.

I was a little disconcerted when I heard at the meeting that the group comes to the end of its current lifespan in March 2016, but we will be planning for the next 12 months after that. As a result, we spent a lot of time talking about priorities for the future of this group and discussed important issues like employment and services for people with a learning disability who get into trouble with the police. We would also need to continue work to ensure people with a learning disability get equal care from health services as anyone else in the population.

This is an important group as it has the opportunity to speak directly to the Minister for Health and Social Services and Welsh Government, and to ensure that the people most affected by policies and services have a voice in how they are developed.

11th LDAG meeting by Wayne Crocker

Wayne Crocker

The role of members of the Learning Disability Advisory Group (LDAG) is a relatively easy one. We must bring the realities of life as a person with a learning disability, or as a parent, carer or family member, to the policy makers when we look at how government policy impacts upon the lives of those people we represent.

The group is made up of members from different parts of Wales, from the voluntary sector, social services, health, Welsh Government; all of whom have an impact upon the lives of people with a learning disability and/or their families.

As Director of Mencap Cymru, I see my role as bringing to the meetings the stories I have heard in my job about how things are or are not working for people with a learning disability and their families.

At the 11th meeting of the LDAG on 10 February 2015, we were joined by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford. He was able to listen to the work we have been doing as members of the sub-groups, looking at advocacy for people with a learning disability, why people with a learning disability and challenging behaviour are often sent away from their local communities for help and support, and the group I am most interested in, why people with a learning disability have poorer health than those who don't have a learning disability.

Policy and how it works for people on the ground can seem a very complicated thing. Often politicians will have really good ideas but when they are supposed to be delivered for people on the ground, things do not always go the way politicians imagined.

One of the things I was able to raise with the Minister at the meeting was our experience as Mencap Cymru when supporting people with a learning disability in hospitals. In 2009, a man with a learning disability called Paul Ridd died in a hospital in South Wales because of neglect. The Welsh Government acted fast to learn lessons from the sad death of Paul and the experiences of his family. In January 2014, Mark Drakeford launched the Learning Disability Care Bundle. This was a way to make hospital staff think about how they support people with a learning disability who go into hospital. We all attended the launch and we were hopeful that this would ensure there would not be another death like Paul's.

I mentioned earlier that the role of members like me on LDAG is to bring stories to the Minister and civil servants, and I was able to tell the LDAG that although the bundle is formally in place, we are still finding many front line health staff are unaware of it and what they are supposed to do when people with a learning disability come into hospital.

To help us bring true life stories to the Minister and those responsible for developing services for people with a learning disability and their families, it is important that you tell us how things are in your life. You can do this through speaking with staff in All Wales People First, All Wales Forum for Parents and Carers, Learning Disability Wales or you can contact me at Mencap Cymru by phoning the Wales Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 or emailing: helpline.wales@mencap.org.uk.

Mark Drakeford 11th LDAG Feb 15