If you have a family member with a learning disability, there is help available to you. It’s not always easy to know what’s out there and navigating adult social care can be difficult, so we’ve put together a guide to help you.
NHS learning disability teams
The NHS has local learning disability teams who can provide community support. These are multidisciplinary teams who work with individuals and their families, or support networks – family doesn’t always mean blood relatives. The services on offer can include occupational therapy, physiotherapy, specialist nurses, speech and language therapy, behaviour support and psychiatrists.
The aim of these teams is to offer assistance where people are unable to use mainstream services. They can also help people to access mainstream services where suitable and help people with complex needs to be heard and understood. This can also include things like vision and hearing checks. The NHS team works closely with the local authority adult social care team for their area.
Local authority adult social care
Your local authority will have an adult social care department that can offer help to people with learning disabilities and their families. There are certain eligibility criteria that need to be met, which will be measured with a needs assessment. This will look at lots of different things, from whether the person needs help getting dressed to if they feel lonely or isolated. Managing nutrition, personal hygiene, ability to work and ability to use services such as public transport are all looked at during the assessment.
The services on offer at each local authority vary, but they can provide help with things like personal care, living arrangements, training or work and even socialising.
Some support services are free, while others may require payment. You may need to complete a financial assessment, which will look at your savings, income, outgoings and disability-related costs.
There may be benefits you can claim to assist with paying for support. The adult social care department at your local authority can often offer advice on benefits, or you can contact your local citizens advice bureau.
It may be worth seeking help from an independent financial advisor, who can help with funding options for long-term care. Your local authority can’t tell you who to use, but they can offer tips on choosing a suitable financial advisor.
Activities for people with learning disabilities
There are charities and enterprises dedicated to helping people with learning disabilities get out and about and have a social life. There are drop-in centres, buddy schemes and educational courses for people with learning disabilities. At Halland House, we have our own daycare scheme.
Support for carers
If you care for someone with learning disabilities, whether or not they live in the same house, you may be able to access support. This could be in the form of financial support, respite care so you can have a break, or widening your support network. Contact your local authority to find out what support they offer. There are also charities and organisations that can offer help and advice including Care for the Carers, Carers UK, and the Care Trust. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – you will be able to give your loved one better care with the right support.
Resources for your area
To find support relevant to your area, see our resources page which has links to all the NHS teams, local authorities and individual services where available.