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24th September 2013

Transitional Failings

I have just helped to set up a special interest group (SIG) in my area where people who work with, support, or are interested in, learning disability services can meet and share ideas.

We whinge too…

Last week we met over coffee and tiffin and whinged about the appalling lack of join-up for young people who are moving from children’s services to adult provision. It seemed that all of us have a story about the lack of dedicated support workers (council cuts have seen off many of these) or the factors that influence access to enlightened service provision for those with profound disabilities.

When you consider the range of services available to young people with learning disabilities in the community, compared with those for adults, it is sobering. For children, there is more chance of the services involved in care and education actually speaking to each other. They will probably have had dealings with a paediatrician; they may have been able to access occupational and physiotherapy through school, as well as speech and language therapy.  Some children may have been able to access short breaks or play-schemes.  In some areas, innovative approaches such as ‘Team Around The Child’ help join up the various professionals and agencies involved in children’s services to progress individual plans of care.

How depressing then, when the majority of group participants spoke of the desperate lack of cohesion among health, social care and education once a child reached 18. It seems that when budgets change, much gets lost in the move.

As providers of adult services, organisations can work to improve the way they manage referrals of young adults. One SIG group member commented that ‘children’s services seem to be doing all the pushing, yet adult care rarely does any pulling!’ Links between services don’t just happen; providers need to innovate and get themselves known.

If you do receive a referral from a young person’s representative, consider getting in touch with all of the agencies involved in their care to help build a complete picture of their strengths and needs. Talk to the college or school. Ask to meet any health care or therapy staff they are known to.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence are currently working on quality standards for transition to adult services, and the list of stakeholders (groups and organisations who have applied to be involved) demonstrates how vital this development is to both users and providers.  The standard isn’t due for publication until 2016, so don’t wait for there to be a guideline before you get in on the act! Check the web for events and consultations.

Transition - when it’s good, it really is the springboard for a full and valued adult life.


Ginny Tyler - QCS Learning Disability Expert Contributor

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