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.

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