Last week, Hertfordshire County Council hosted a Learning Disability Accommodation Forum. This was an interesting event with information regarding future plans for Learning Disability accommodation services and enabled the Council to gather feedback from the sector. HCPA were in attendance and below are highlights of what came out of the event:

  • The overall aim is to make LD services more person centred, using Transforming Care and The Care Act as drivers for change;
  • There are currently not enough accommodation solutions in Hertfordshire for people with Learning Disabilities;
  • The county needs more high quality personalised supported living services and there is a target to transform 50% of services for people with Learning Disabilities from Residential to Supported Living by 2020;
  • The commissioning of residential placements for people living with a Learning Disability will be greatly reduced in favour of Supported Living;
  • HCC will develop design standards for accommodation so that those building will have some guidance. This model will be future-proofed and sustainable;
  • Negotiations will start shortly on what new contracts may look like in the future for commissioning these services.

Tips for Providers

Be flexible with your support, allow family input, find the right property for each person, personalise technology, finance the move, think about court deputyship (MCA, managing finances etc.) and change staff culture;

  • A partnership with local authority is necessary to keep messages consistent. Organisations need to work flexibly around financing the services as people move out;
  • Court Deputyship: Consider the management of people’s finances, do families want to take this on? There also is the opportunity for deputyship on health and welfare. Providers need to support families through the process;
  • Finding the right property: Work with individuals and families about what they want. Remember choice and control is really important;
  • Personalised Technology: Simple things such as own key fobs for service users. Try to use technology to increase independence.

Tips for building new accommodation

  • The provider needs to understand the community they are building for;
  • The architect / building company must engage with the client, organisation, staff, service users, families and the OT;
  • Get the architect in as early as possible. Don’t pay anything extra for them coming to meetings or for visits;
  • The architect will want to come to your strategy meetings and should be willing to keep changing designs and ideas;
  • Keep reviewing your project as you go along. Seek video presentations and models;
  • Start early with discussing plans with neighbours. Let them meet your clients;
  • Engage with the public more widely at events;
  • Plan staff facilities in the shape of a flat as this can then be made into an apartment in the future;
  • Neighbours prefer care homes and do not understand what supported housing is and therefore they may be fearful so please support this;
  • Don’t make it look like a care home. Make it look like somebody’s home.

At the event, there were also various workshops including: Workforce development and cultural change, Developing a new supported living service specification, Managing the needs and aspirations of families and service users, Property conversion and new build schemes. The feedback from these will be available shortly from HCC and we will share the highlights in the HCPA E-News.

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