Improvement journey outlined for residents with learning disabilities

Published Wednesday, 9th May 2018
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Rotherham Council

Plans to transform services for people with a learning disability in Rotherham are unveiled in a report that will be presented to Councillors later this month.

In a bid to better meet people’s needs and offer more independence and control over their lives, Rotherham Council is proposing a move away from building based support over the next two years. The proposals follow a public consultation late last year.

The demand for traditional building based ‘day services’ has declined over a number of years, with residents seeking more a person centred and flexible provision. The new proposals outline the phased decommissioning of Oaks Day Centre, Addison Day Centre, Treefields and Quarryhill respite services and Parkhill residential home over the next two years. Instead, a community based offer will allow more opportunities to engage with local communities and build friendship groups. More people will also have the opportunity to gain paid employment. The Council’s transformation plan follows in the direction of other local authorities.

If given the go ahead, the Council will implement a comprehensive delivery plan to ensure that people and their families are offered alternative services, closer to home and using existing resources and community buildings, such as leisure centres and community provision. Before any services change, dedicated social workers will meet with people who use the existing services and complete a thorough review of their needs in order to ensure that they receive the right support.

Under the proposals the council will continue to provide a day centre facility, REACH, for those with the highest level of need for whom other alternatives are not appropriate. This service is currently located at Badsley Moor Lane and Maple Avenue in Maltby and the Council will consider whether these are the best buildings for this purpose in the future.

A scheme delivered in partnership with the social enterprise Community Catalysts has already been trialled in the borough whereby people who are currently attending day services are offered the chance to take part in community activities. Feedback from the sessions has been positive with people feeling ‘part of something of value’. The learning from this project has informed the transformation plan set out in the report for Councillors.

Janet Rigden is from Swinton and her daughter has been attending services in the community for the past year. She said:

“Since my daughter started attending community based sessions she has quite simply come alive – to see the life skills she’s developed has been amazing. For 13 years she attended Oaks day centre and then when we spoke to the Council about other opportunities we thought, why not give it a try. This was best decision we made and after only a couple of taster sessions she refused point blank to go back to her old day centre. She now gets involved in various activities throughout the week from swimming and drama club to cinema trips and cooking and eating sessions.”

Linda Storey, also from Swinton has seen her son transition from Oaks day centre to community based services. He got involved in many of the same activities but his main passion has always been for music and singing. Linda said:

“For as long as I can remember my son has wanted to be a singer and since attending the sessions he got the chance to be part of a band. His dreams really have become reality and the band has now performed in a local pub, with more performances in the pipeline. It’s just amazing to see. He was anxious when we first took him to the sessions but we’ve never looked back. My main priority is that my son has a choice. If didn’t have his disability he would be making all sorts of life choices so getting the support he needs shouldn’t be any different.”

The Council’s review also determined that the current respite provision at Quarryhill in Wath and Treefields in Wingfield do not meet the needs of people using the services, including those with mobility difficulties, and proposes to cease use of these two buildings by mid-2020. The Council already uses some other respite provision and will continue to develop further alternatives. The current residential home, Parkhill Lodge at Maltby, does not meet with national standards of good practice and faces significant issues of building deterioration, and is also proposed to close.

Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Cllr David Roche, said:

“The rigorous review of our learning and disability services began nearly three years ago and during that time we have looked at good practice in other local authorities, national research and consulted with people who use our services and their families. Even before we began the review, people with learning disabilities who were reaching adulthood and their families were already generally choosing not to go into day centres. Instead, the people who we’ve spoken to have told us that they want the same quality of life as everyone else and want to be able to live more independently with greater choice. In order to enable people to participate in society we must offer community based services that promote independence, wellbeing and social inclusion.

“We appreciate that some people will feel anxious during this time and we want to do everything in our gift to make this transition as smooth as possible and ensure that people are communicated with and engaged in the process so they are clear about what it means for them.” 

The Cabinet meeting will take place on Monday 21 May.