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Families of people with learning disabilities fear for the future

hospital ward

 ‘We are finally seeing a real commitment to ending inappropriate hospital care for people with learning disabilities.’ Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

As a charity working day in day out with people with learning disabilities, at FitzRoy we are acutely aware of the pressures their families face. Through research we recently conducted (pdf), many families revealed the often profound anguish they feel. Confused by the systems of care, they live in fear of the dire consequences of incorrect assessments and the lack of consistent and quality care available. This is exacerbated by ongoing funding cuts to budgets and services. Some were so profoundly worried they told us they sometimes hoped that their children would die before them.

These findings are shocking, and come on the heels of the recently published report Building the Right Support. This report, which we welcome, sets out a vision of a national plan to develop community services and close inpatient facilities for people with learning disabilities. This is a long overdue, and very important, step forward. We are finally seeing a real commitment to ending inappropriate hospital care. It will rightly be welcomed by families and campaigners alike, but we fear the consequences on already stretched community resources.

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