The national implementation plan – Building the right support – announced today by NHS England and local government partners is a critical step in helping those living with a learning disability and/or autism to have greater control and much better outcomes. As Simon Stevens says, ‘now is the moment to grasp the nettle’.
This is not dry policy; it is about human dignity and control for people who express a strong desire to live in homes not hospitals.
The challenge now is to make this a reality. The key word today is implementation and as policy-makers know all too well, there can be ‘many a slip between cup and lip’ or put more straightforwardly, policy does not always deliver for those it is intended to benefit.
Good policy badly implemented is the same as bad policy, but this is a good policy and those with learning disabilities deserve for it to be implemented well. Poor implementation will be costly, potentially risky and worst of all will deny those with learning disabilities the chance to live their best lives. This is about making a demonstrable change in the lives of people with learning disabilities.
Over the past decade, the team at iMPOWER has ran the hard yards of implementation and learned the lessons of how to do it. We are national leaders on personal budgets, personalised care, prevention and helping to improve fostering and adoption. We work across health and local government and get the interfaces with a wide range of services like housing and education. It was very encouraging to see the emphasis on local councils and the NHS joining together to deliver in today’s announcement. That has to be a big part of the answer and getting the planning right will be challenging but we know at iMPOWER that it is do-able.
This is an exciting time and it can be done. The exam question is how to do it well. We are firmly committed to supporting the NHS and councils to get it right. It’s worth reflecting for a moment on what achieving this would really mean.