Despite progress, existing arrangements are unlikely to be fit for the future, says Auditor General
Local authorities need to address significant challenges if they are to ensure they continue to meet the long-term accommodation needs of people with learning disabilities and their carers. That’s the conclusion of a report, published today, by the Auditor General for Wales.
This report focuses on whether local authorities have effective approaches in place to commission accommodation for adults with learning disabilities. Commissioning stages include assessing people’s needs; setting priorities and strategies to meet those needs; and buying goods and securing services to address needs.
Most people with learning disabilities can lead independent lives with the right support and, therefore, as public expenditure reduces, effective planning and provision of care and support services is becoming an increasingly important aspect of public policy in Wales. The report found that, despite progress in many areas, local authorities and their partners must do more to integrate services and resolve a number of complex challenges if they are to achieve the ambition of sustainable services.
Today’s report estimates that local authorities will need to increase investment in accommodation by around £365 million in the next 20 years to address both the growing number of people with learning disabilities who will need housing, and the increase in the number with moderate or severe needs. Given the financial outlook, this challenge will be particularly onerous.
The report makes a number of recommendations to local authorities, in 6 key areas, including:
- Continue to focus on preventing people becoming dependent on more expensive placements in care homes by providing effective support at home and a range of step up accommodation.
- Improve the approach to planning services for people with learning disabilities. For example, by using population projections to quantify current shortfall in provision; and agreeing future priorities based on this.
- Do more to involve people with learning disabilities and their carers in care planning and agreeing pathways to further independence.
Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas, said today:
“With more and more people with learning disabilities needing accommodation, and with budgets continually being squeezed, local authorities need to make best us of their commissioning arrangements to address the financial challenge they face. More efforts need to be made around prevention – such as through providing effective support at home. There also needs to be better partnership working with other organisations and integrating the way services are delivered more.”