New commissioning guidance for services for people with a learning disability

New guidance has recently been developed by the National Commissioning Board for Wales to ensure that public services are commissioned effectively to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities.

The National Commissioning Board (NCB) appointed the Institute of Public Care, Oxford Brookes University to support the development of the guidance and worked in partnership with representatives from the regions and the Learning Disability Advisory Group. There is also an easy read version available that Learning Disability Wales produced on their behalf.

The guidance aims to support the implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act in relation to commissioning services for people with learning disabilities. It updates the Welsh Government guidance produced in 2011. It will eventually be supplemented by more detailed guidance in relation to specific service areas, beginning with supported living services. A group is meeting currently to develop the supported living guidance. Steve Vaughan, Manager of the National Commissioning Board  is leading on this work.

The NCB are working with the 7 Regional Partnership Boards to develop their own integrated approaches to commissioning of services for people with learning disabilities. The guidance also acts as a tool against which commissioners can examine their current commissioning practice.

Commissioners need to take into account that all people with learning disabilities have the right to live healthy, productive and independent lives, and should be treated with dignity and respect. In addition, they need to have the support of their communities, maintaining important family and social ties with access to services that are important to them - this could mean making reasonable adjustments to ensure everyone can use these services.

Co-production should be integrated into the initial 4 steps of commissioning services. This includes finding out what people need by involving people with a learning disability in the initial planning stages; promoting services where people with a learning disability have a strong voice and control over; making sure people with a learning disability have a say about how well the service is working, and finding out if anything about the service needs to be changed.

One of the main ways to keep everyone at the centre of their services is to implement Pathways to set out the care and support services that are available at each stage of a person's life, for example: early years, adult life and ageing. They should be well planned, co-produced and easy to understand so that individuals can move through services efficiently. 

Full document: National Commissioning Board Commissioning Services for People with a Learning Disability Good Practice Guidance, November 2017 and

Easy Read document: Planning and organising your services Our guide to commissioning services for people with a learning disability, November 2017.

The documents are available here:

English website:

Welsh website:

More information on the National Commissioning Board: