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Looking ahead to a better future

Sue Dumbleton (The Open University in Scotland) and Jan Walmsley (Visiting Chair, The Open University)

This paper will be a personal reflection on 'what works' in supporting people who have a learning disability to enjoy a safe and productive life of their choosing. I will draw on my personal experience as the parent of a young adult who has a learning disability. I will also develop some themes from my presentation to the SHLD Conference in 2010 Staff Stories and Stories about Staff.

A young woman dragging bags of straw outside a farm building

I intend to look at the ways in which support is funded, with a particular emphasis on the third sector and the ways in which current commissioning and procurement processes contrast with the more campaigning approach which could be taken in the last century. As part of this I will also look forward to new ways of funding support such as personalisation and self directed support. The role of families/allies in self directed support will be considered.

I will locate services for people who have a learning disability within wider social, cultural and economic contexts and examine the connections between Winterbourne View (and other such establishments) and other services which are currently considered to be failing (NHS hospital care, schools, etc).

I will conclude that the best we can hope to do is minimise the extent to which other Winterbourne Views will occur and suggest some ways of doing this. These will include staff attributes, the involvement of families/allies, the letting in of 'light and air' through inclusive inspection regimes but acknowledging that prevailing social contexts have a strong influence.

Sue Dumbleton (with Lyn Dumbleton)

Book cover for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Jan will provide a commentary about the lessons of Sue's story for a better life for people with learning difficulties and their families. Her paper will draw on the Social History of Learning Disability Group's work on the history of the recent past, in particular her recent book Towards a Good Life for People with Intellectual Disabilities (2010).

Jan then goes on to ask what lessons can be drawn from this reflection on the past to help us shape a better future.

View Jan's PowerPoint presentation (PPT)

Jan Walmsley

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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

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