Health may be unpredictable but opportunities should be universal – that’s a value we hold dear at Learning Disability Today. It will underpin everything you experience at our upcoming learning and exhibition day in London on November 22. We will be joined by some of the most respected voices in social care and empowerment including Choice Support, Mencap and former health minister (currently shadow health minister) Norman Lamb MP.

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'Future-proofing providers'

Many people with learning disabilities rely on social care of one type or another. It’s fundamental that this provision is protected and bolstered. Last month the United Nations described the UK’s disability policies as producing a ‘human catastrophe’ for disabled people. The Prime Minister, now more than a year into the job and with the general election behind her, has an opportunity to take note and change course. A good start would be picking up the bill for back-dated sleep-in pay. This would future-proof providers of learning disability social care, unable to pay a debt of £400 million that’s been imposed upon them.

Controversy or constructive?

Mencap are leading the campaign to stop the sleep-in pay crisis. We look forward to hosting the charity and hearing about the work they are doing beyond care, specifically in the area of supporting greater employment opportunities. The employment rate remains stubbornly low at six percent but Mencap have practical suggestions for enabling people with learning disability to prove themselves, through participating in week-long work trials rather than job interviews.

The Chief Executive of Team Domenica, a charity local to LDT on the South Coast, sparked controversy earlier this year when suggesting that living wage exemptions would be an alternative way of opening doors for people with learning disabilities. LDT London provides a forum where difficult conversations will be held and roadmaps to progress will be debated.

Aiming higher

Certainly progress is needed. Seven years on from Winterbourne View, the number of people living in hospital settings remains too high at almost 3,000 residents. The hospitals may be different, but they’re still hospitals. Choice Support, who will also play a major role at LDT London this year, argue that only students and military professionals choose to live in large groups. Others tend to prefer to live on their own, in couples or with a friend.

We can aim higher than the status quo and a major theme of our event will be accelerating change. We look forward to hearing the perspectives and insights of Norman Lamb MP, the much-respected former health minister and current shadow health minister for the Liberal Democrats, when he speaks and answers audience questions in his afternoon slot. 

Sex ban

Delegates who attend will hear directly from people with learning disabilities what their individual views are on care, employment and housing along with something that is not talked about often enough: sex and relationships. Too often, well-intentioned concerns around safeguarding cloud or prevent opportunities for people to meet potential partners. A man with Down’s Syndrome was recently awarded £10,000 in damages after a lazy interpretation of the Mental Capacity Act resulted in him being banned from having sex with his wife.

Equal rights

People with learning disabilities have the right to the same opportunities as everyone else. We know you agree with this and we look forward to supporting you – and you supporting us – with insights, evidence and methodologies very soon.

Find out more and book your place: https://www.learningdisabilitytoday.co.uk/learning-disability-today-london-2017