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  4. The eSAY: eSAY - how information can improve the lives of people with learning disabilities in Scotland

The eSAY: eSAY - how information can improve the lives of people with learning disabilities in Scotland

Claire Stuart and Andy McKeown
The Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability

Policies for people with learning disabilities have changed over the years. The aim of these policies has been to support people with learning disabilities to live the lives they want in their communities.

One such policy was 'The same as you?'. This was published by the Scottish Executive in 2001. It made a number of recommendations to help people with learning disabilities to live better lives outside of institutions and in the communities. One of the recommendations said that we should keep better information about the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families. The government thought this was important for checking out how well policies were working. They asked the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability to monitor this through their eSAY Project.

eSAY collects information on the number of adults with learning disabilities in Scotland and the services they use. We collect lots of different pieces of information, which we use to give a picture of people’s lives and the kinds of service people are accessing. We do not collect any names or other personal information, just numbers. This means no one can find out who someone is from the information we publish.

We started collecting our information in 2008. When we look across the years, our information tells us how life is changing for adults with learning disabilities. We can see:

  • the number of people living in long stay hospitals has gone down
  • more people use a local area co-ordinator now
  • people are going to day centres less and accessing alternative opportunities more than they did in the past.

The information we get from eSAY is really important knowing how many people with learning disabilities there are in Scotland and the kinds of services they use. Having this information means we can plan better for the future and also check how well services and policies are doing.

View the eSAY presentation (PDF)

Biographies

Claire Stuart manages the eSAY Project which is based at the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability (SCLD) and has worked on the project since 2008, when it began to collect information on the numbers of adults with learning disabilities in Scotland and the services they use. Claire is also involved with a number of SCLD’s other research and policy work and believes in the value of evidence based research to inform policy and practice. She has a specific interest in how qualitative information can be used to support, and further inform, quantitative research. She advocates for inclusive research with people with learning disabilities and their families to ensure people’s experiences and opinions are represented in research outcomes and, ultimately, policy and practice across Scotland.

Andy McKeown is a data analyst on the eSAY Project which is based at the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability (SCLD). Andy is responsible for collecting and analysing data about adults with learning disabilities from local authority sources. He also contributes to the production of an annual statistics report about adults with learning disabilities and is committed to making these statistics accessible and engaging for a wide range of users by producing data visualisations. Andy also carries out further analysis of the eSAY data on a bespoke basis to maximise the utility of the dataset.

Contact us

About the Group

If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

Liz Tilley 
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
MK7 6AA

About the website

If you have any feedback or would like to report a problem with the website, please contact WELS-Research-Admin@open.ac.uk.