Supporting parents with learning disabilities in Scotland : Challenges and opportunities

Stewart, Ailsa and MacIntyre, Gillian and McGregor, Sharon (2016) Supporting parents with learning disabilities in Scotland : Challenges and opportunities. [Report]

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    Abstract

    The Scottish Government wants to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities. This report is one of a series commissioned by the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability on behalf of the Scottish Government to understand how we can achieve this. Scotland’s learning disability strategy, The keys to life, is based on a commitment to human rights, and seeks to improve the quality of life for people with learning disabilities so that they live longer, healthier lives, participate fully in all aspects of society and prosper as individuals. People with learning disabilities should have the same rights to family life as anyone else and supporting parents with learning disabilities has a crucial role to play in making those rights real. As this report demonstrates, people with learning disabilities face a myriad of challenges when they become parents. People with learning disabilities can and do become good parents. However, they may require additional support to to become the best parents they can be. That support needs to be flexible. It will often need to be long term and intensive, particularly at key stages of a child’s development. To be effective it has to be built around the needs of the whole family. The Scottish Commission for Learning Disability has recently refreshed the Scottish Good Practice Guidelines for Supporting Parents with Learning Disabilities. This report maps the range of services available now and explores the extent to which parents with learning disabilities have access to services based on the principles of supported parenting. It sets out clear thinking and detailed recommendations about providing support which reflects those guidelines, consistent recording across health and social care to ensure early identification and awareness raising. This will ensure good practice is adopted and embedded. This will require close working with Integration Joint Boards and collaborative working across sector boundaries. Early identification and intervention is key to avoiding a crisis model of intervention which parents with learning disabilities have all too often experienced in the past. Through our involvement in the Working Together with Parents Network, a collaboration with Learning Disability Wales and the Norah Fry Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Bristol, funded by the Esmee Fairburn Foundation, we will continue to drive improved policy and practice. This report provides an invaluable evidence base for that work. Our objective must be to use every available opportunity to support parents with learning disabilities to secure better outcomes for them and their children