Headlines: January 30th, 2007



Turning 18 can be the start of a nightmare for many young people with disabilities and serious medical conditions. That’s how some families describe the move from children’s to adults’ social services in a new report published today. It says they face problems because not all local authorities provide the same level of support for adults as they do for children and that means some young people lose their independence and with it opportunities for a fuller life.

Today’s report has been published by the Commission for Social Care Inspection and its chair, Dame Denise Platt, said the study showed councils needed to start planning early to ensure young people with disabilities had the chance to lead as independent a life as possible once they reached adulthood. “Young people should expect to maintain their quality of life as they move into adults’ services. It is a waste of resources – as well as a waste of young people’s potential – if the support they are given as children is not continued into adulthood, and if they end up in expensive residential care that restricts their independence, often many miles away from their own home,” she added.

The report finds that urgent action is needed to tackle the issue and it says the new arrangements for children’s and adults’ social care services are an opportunity to get things right. It calls on councils and primary care trusts to look afresh at the issue and to work together to develop and commission seamless services offering choice and independence to those with complex needs moving into adulthood.

The CSCI report, “Growing up matters: better transition planning for young people with complex needs” turns the spotlight on young people with combinations of acute and chronic conditions, multiple and profound impairments, behavioural problems and learning difficulties. It looks in particular at the experiences of people who have been placed in residential care outside their home areas and airs their views as well as those of their families and carers, of residential schools, social services and their partners in education and health.

Improvements have been made in some parts of the country, it says, but generally there is inadequate commissioning of services, poor co-ordination and a failure to plan ahead properly with young people and their families. All this, the report says, leads to delays, multiple assessments, confusion and anxiety for all the people concerned.

According to the report, many councils say the level of services is reduced as young people reach adulthood because of factors including different eligibility criteria for access to services and different levels of funding. CSCI says it will continue to focus on local councils’ performance in fulfilling their statutory responsibilities for this group of people and will report on their progress.