The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), presented its findings of its review of Community Services for Adults with a Learning Disability. RQIA assessed health and social care trusts performance against the Department of Health’s Service Framework for Learning Disability.

This review makes 25 recommendations, which aim to drive improvements for all those who avail of adult learning disability community services across Northern Ireland.

In attendance at the first meeting of the new Assembly was Margaret Kelly Mencap's NI Director and Fiona Cole Mencap’s Campaign’s and Policy Officer. Peter Livingstone Mencap Beneficiary who has been a member of the All Party Group since 2009 was also present. Peter shared his story with the MLA's in Stormont about his 8 year struggle trying to live independently in a house of his own.

The All Party Group has a cross party membership including Chris Lyttle (Alliance) as Chairperson, Michaela Boyle (Sinn Fien) as Vice Chairperson, Robin Swann (UUP) as Treasurer and Mark H Durkan (SDLP) as Secretary. The All Party Group on Learning Disability aim to promote a better understanding of the issues facing people with a learning disability and their families and influence policy, legislation and service developments to improve the lives of people with a learning disability and their families in Northern Ireland.

The All Party Group works to ensure that learning disability issues remain a priority of the Assembly and NI Executive. The group helps to facilitate cross-party discussions and co-operation on matters that affect people with a learning disability and their families in NI. To bring together MLAs and the learning disability sector to facilitate co-ordination on learning disability issues inside the Assembly. To promote and support the rights of people with a learning disability within legislation, policy and service provision so that they and their families enjoy equal lives.

Key recommendations

The RQIA Report highlighted:

  • all trusts should evaluate the benefits and effectiveness of outcomes for adults with a learning disability of the various models of day care and day support. This should be reviewed by the HSC Board regionally in terms of their future commissioning plan for day care and day support services
  • an assessment of the activity and effectiveness of challenging behaviour teams should be undertaken by the commissioner. The outcome model used by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust should also be reviewed to see if it could be applied regionally
  • the commissioner should review the regional disparity in the uptake of direct payments and continue to monitor the consequences of trusts paying below the directed standard rate
  • the regional informatics group should consider and agree how best to capture information in a single unified regional IT solution, to ensure meaningful planning and consistency of reporting on learning disability.

The next meeting is on Tuesday 6 December 2016.