Healthwatch Lancashire launches Learning Disabilities and Autism project

Healthwatch Lancashire has launched a project to hear the views of those who consider themselves to have a learning disability or autism, their families, carers and those who know them well, to find out what’s important to them in terms of their health and social care. 

An initial consultation took place with Learning Disability groups to identify what was important to them when accessing health or social care services.

Healthwatch Lancashire heard a range of experiences, with the most prominent being communication within hospital settings and the use of Hospital Passports. This key theme has formed the basis of an extensive programme of public engagement and an online survey.

Disability

Those who consider themselves to have a learning disability or autism, as well as carers, support workers and family members of those who have a learning disability or autism, can complete the following online survey: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LDaccesstohospital

‘Easy Read’ versions of this survey and engagement tools are also available. Please contact the Healthwatch Lancashire team at info@healthwatchlancashire.co.uk for these tools.

The feedback received will be used to compile a report that will be shared with those who plan, run and regulate health and social care services to highlight how these services can be improved for those who have learning disabilities or autism, their carers and families.

Sheralee Turner-Birchall, Chief Executive at Healthwatch Lancashire, said: “From our initial conversations, we are hearing that accessing certain services is difficult for people who have a learning disability or autism.

“This specific project aims to discover further their experiences and opinions so that providers and commissioners can hear first-hand what  is working well and where these services need to improve to enable equal access for people with learning disabilities or autism.”

Benefits Cap – large areas off-limits to poorer families

Large parts of the country are about to become off-limits for tens of thousands of poorer families because of the planned cut in the annual benefit cap, David Cameron is warned today by housing experts.

The Government is pressing ahead with moves to reduce the limit households can receive benefits from £26,000 to £23,000  in England, Wales and Scotland as a priority after the Tory election victory. The move is expected to quadruple the number of families who lose benefit because of the cap.

Money ImageMinisters say the policy, described yesterday as a “matter of fairness” by Chancellor George Osborne and the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, encourages the jobless to look for work.

However, the Chartered Institute of Housing said larger families would be priced out of their current homes because they would not be left with enough money to cover their rent, and claimed the policy would increase homelessness and poverty. The institutes calculated that couples with three children would be left with £110 a week after their living costs are excluded, which is well below the average rent for a three-bedroom housing association property in the South, the Midlands and many areas in the North. The problem is expected to be just as acute in high-rent areas of Scotland and Wales.

Some groups point to evidence that the benefits squeeze since 2010 has forced families on benefits out of expensive parts of central London, but that it disputed by the Department of Work and Pensions, which says very few of the people affected have moved – and when they have it has only been for a short distance.

A DWP spokesman said: “This type of scaremongering happened when the cap was first introduced – when in fact over 22,000 people who had their benefits capped moved into work, reduced their Housing Benefit claim or no longer are claiming Housing Benefit at all. As well as restoring fairness to the system, the benefit cap provides a clear incentive for people to get into work.”

But Gavin Smart, the institute’s deputy chief executive, said: “People affected by the current cap already face significant barriers to finding work, including a lack of job-seeking skills and affordable childcare. Our UK Housing Review briefing shows lowering the cap would make huge swathes of the country unaffordable for larger families on benefits.”

George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith have insisted they will push ahead with plans to slash another £12bn a year from the benefits bill.

“It would be nice if  the Government and the DWP could leave “FAIRNESS” out of their reasons for attacking  disabled people, the elderly and vulnerable – it’s a rubbish excuse and shows how stupid they are”