A critical analysis of the impact of ‘Valuing People Now’ (Department of Health 2009) on adults with learning disabilities.
This essay will look at the impact of the 2009 Department of Health (DoH) policy, ‘Valuing People Now’ on the lives of adults with learning disabilities, in terms of the four key principles of legal and civil rights, inclusion, choice and independence. The focus of the essay will be on the health care that this client group receive from mainstream NHS services. This is because the Government proposed that people with learning disabilities would be supported to live as normal a life as possible, instead of being segregated from the community, only able to access specialist services. Policy can be seen as a statement of intent made by the political party in government in response to a particular problem or issue. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health policy as a series of decisions and actions, which are put in place in order to achieve particular societal health care needs. Policy informs people by setting out plans for the short term as well as future targets, defining the roles and priorities of the different groups involved. However, this top down approach often leads to a gap between policy and practice. Compared with the general population, adults with a learning disability experience double the amount of ill health during their lifetime, as well as being four times as likely to die from preventable causes (Disabilities Rights Commission 2006). According to the Department of Health, 2001, learning disability is comprised of impaired intelligence and impaired social functioning both of which started before adulthood. However, this is by no means a homogenous group and the labels mild, moderate and severe learning disabilities cannot possibly describe the varying impairments that individuals may have. As a consequence, this diversity means that the support that each person needs will be different despite commonalities (Royal College of Nursing 2010). According to the inverse care law (Hart 1971), some population groups consume less health care even if they have more need for it. The National Health Service (NHS) came into being in 1948 with its founding principle being that there should be equal access to health care for all. Lifestyle or income should not affect the treatment available, as it should be provided on the basis of need (DH 2000). However, despite many positive achievements, inequalities still exist between P27872
different regions and groups of people. The first White Paper on learning disability for thirty years, ‘Valuing people: a new strategy for learning disability for the 21st century’ (Department of Health 2001) set a plan of action to improve services for disabled children through to adulthood. As well as health, it also addressed social services, education, employment and housing needs in terms of personal choice and inclusion. ‘Valuing People Now’ (DoH ,2009) examined progress in implementing ‘Valuing People’ concluding that although progress had been made on many fronts, commissioning and policy making was not addressing the needs of those adults who had more complex needs such as profound intellectual and multiple disabilities. So, ‘Valuing People Now’ presented the government’s three-year strategy and this essay will focus on whether it delivered what it set out to. According to the DDA (1995) it is against the law to discriminate against a particular group even if that discrimination is unintentional. However, it must be remembered that there is lots of good, evidence based, individualised care taking place but it is the shocking cases of poor practice that attract media attention. In 2004 a report called ‘Treat me right’ by Mencap called for a confidential enquiry into the premature deaths of people with learning disabilities (Mencap, 2004). There is currently no information...
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