More disabled clients in need of state’s support

Nigel and Tracey Taylor

Nigel and Tracey Taylor

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Health reporter, also covering Kidlington. Call me on 01865 425271

THE number of people with learning disabilities who need state-funded help has risen 16 per cent in the last two years, it has been revealed.

Council and NHS bosses are funding care for 2,078 people in their own homes or care facilities in March this year, compared to 1,792 in March 2012.

People who are supported to live at home has risen from 1,298 to 1,673 in the two years.

Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Paul Smith said: “It has gone up by 16 per cent due to an overall increase in the number of adults with a learning disability and the fact that people with a learning disability are living much longer.”

The rise was revealed amid a review of learning disability services, sparked in part by the death of an Oxford teenager in a city NHS facility.

Connor Sparrowhawk died after drowning in a bath at NHS unit Slade House, Headington, last July.

A probe found his death could have been prevented with more frequent checks on his baths and better overall assessments. One area the review wants to improve is the take-up of physical and mental “health checks” with GPs, a move welcomed by adults with learning disabilities.

Banbury’s Nigel Taylor, 55, who has cataracts, diabetes and hearing aids, said a health check three years ago proved vital.

He said: “I wish I could have heard of health checks a lot sooner then probably it would have helped me with my health and made me a lot better.”

Wife Tracey, 46, who has mild learning disabilities and is a trustee of Oxford learning disability charity My Life My Choice welcomed the review, being run with the NHS Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG). She said: “In the wake of the tragic and preventable death of Connor Sparrowhawk I’m heartened to see that the county council and OCCG have responded positively to the views of people with learning disabilities and their families.

“The challenge now is to turn the plan into meaningful action.”

The council and county NHS are reviewing services that both contract from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Slade House.

A council and county NHS report to county councillors said: “Local confidence in services provided by Southern Health has been impacted upon by the death of Connor Sparrowhawk.”

Helping people with a learning disability and “challenging behaviour” to live in the community is a key consideration, it said. Services that help people move from a residential setting to their home is not “fast enough” OCCG chief executive David Smith and council social services boss John Jackson said.

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