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Empowerment plan for people with learning disabilities

24 January 2020

A plan to empower people with learning disabilities to find more fulfilling opportunities, through work or other support, is being considered by Norfolk County Council.

The proposals have come about as a result of the Council’s 2018-2022 strategy for learning disabilities – “My Life, My Ambition, My Future”. The strategy was co-written by people with learning difficulties, their families and service providers. It says people with a learning disability want to “have the ambition, choice and opportunity to be equal members of the Norfolk community”.

Councillor Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social care, public health and prevention, said: “We have been told by people with learning disabilities and their families, that this is what they want, so we need to get on and deliver it.

“I’m confident the new proposals will help people get better outcomes, more tailored to what they need.”

Life Opportunities would support people with the most complex needs and help those capable of being more independent to develop life skills and, if possible, find work.

At the moment, the council commissions day services for around 1,400 people with learning disabilities. Services, from 64 providers, are operated from a range of venues across the county, usually from 9am-5pm on weekdays. Average attendance is three days a week.

The proposed new Life Opportunities model has three levels, known as pathways:

  • Wellbeing – providing meaningful activity, social support and care for those with the most complex needs
  • Promoting Independence – supporting people to develop life skills and access community provision and services
  • Skills and Employment – supporting people to obtain paid work

The council piloted the skills and employment approach with five providers, who targeted the support that individuals required to gain work experience and paid work.

If cabinet gives the go ahead, the council will go out to tender for the skills and employment service and then pilot the wellbeing and promoting independence services, before formally introducing them in 2021.

The changes will not affect the amount the council spends on these services - £14 million per year.

A video of Matty, a 29-year-old who has a job in a school kitchen after taking part in the employment scheme pilot, can be viewed via YouTube.

The life opportunities report will be considered when cabinet meets at 10am on Monday 3 February. The meeting will be webcast live at YouTube and a recording available on the same channel afterwards.

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