Welsh Government has published their new Learning Disability Strategic Action Plan for 2022-2026. Grace Krause, Learning Disability Wales’ policy officer, presents our views on the plan, which was co-developed with the Learning Disability Ministerial Advisory Group (LDMAG) and replaces the Improving Lives Programme.
The action plan has 9 main priorities:
- Overarching and cross-cutting - including cross-government activity that may not sit in one specific area
- COVID recovery
- Health - including reducing health inequalities and avoidable deaths
- Social services and social care
- Facilitating independent living and access to services through increased access to advocacy and self-advocacy skills, engagement and collaboration
- Education including children and young people’s services
- Employment and skills
- Housing – appropriate housing, close to home, access to joined-up services
What do we think of the new plan?
Learning Disability Wales is happy to see a new Learning Disability Action Plan that aims to make a difference to the lives of people with a learning disability in Wales. We are particularly happy to see a commitment to implement recommendations from the 2020 review of Adult Specialised Services “Improving Care, Improving Lives, National Collaborative Commissioning Unit” (PDF), as well as a commitment to delivering the legacy health actions from the Improving Lives Programme.
We are also glad to see a focus on supporting parents with a learning disability, as this is a group who often lack appropriate support. We appreciate the strong focus on centring the voice of people with a learning disability in these proposals, for example by working with LDMAG and other partners to determine the priorities for action for a renewed strategic approach to well-being, and by working with stakeholders to explore and review options for advocacy support.
We agree with the strong focus on co-production in terms of the Covid-Recovery Plan, as well as plans to explore the possibility of establishing a National Disability Observatory for Wales. The aim of a National Observatory would be to support the development of a comprehensive body of evidence that will inform policy decision making and service planning.
It is good news that employment for people with a learning disability is seen as a priority and we look forward to helping shape this with the knowledge we have gained through the Engage to Change project.
In addition, there are a number of measures in the plan that have the potential to improve the everyday lives of people with a learning disability. This includes exploring the potential for the provision of guidance and advice in respect of friendships and sexual relationships for people with learning disabilities, families/carers and service providers.
Welsh Government has clarified that the Learning Disability Strategic Action Plan is a ‘living document’ that can change and develop over time. It is also designed to be viewed in combination with a delivery plan that is currently being developed.
More detail needed
While we believe that this plan has the potential to make a significant difference to people with a learning disability in Wales, we are looking forward to seeing more detailed information in the delivery plan that clarifies how Welsh Government is planning to achieve its goals.
We also hope to see some of the goals clarified and be more ambitious in their aims so that they will make a more substantial difference to people with a learning disability in Wales.
Many parts of the plan consist of scoping exercises that explore certain measures. We would like to see the results of these scoping exercises converted into actual delivery commitments as soon as possible.
People with a learning disability face significant disadvantages in Wales, and the pandemic has only made these inequalities worse. We would therefore have liked to have seen more concrete outcomes in terms of how the impact of the plan is going to be measured and reviewed. We would also like to see the costings to ensure the measures in the plan will be sufficiently financed.
We are keen to work with Welsh Government, the Learning Disability Ministerial Advisory Group and our members on the implementation of the new action plan. We will also work closely with our partners and stakeholders to monitor the impact it has on the lives of people with a learning disability and their families in Wales.