A wide-ranging report from the Health and Social Care Committee on the treatment and care of autistic people and those with learning disabilities has found that a lack of adequate community provision has led to many experiencing unnecessary admissions to inpatient facilities. Assessment and Treatment Units, where the average length of stay is six years, should be replaced by person-centred services which would only admit people for short periods of time and be located close to their homes, says the Committee.
Since the Winterbourne View scandal, successive governments have committed to reducing the number of autistic people and people with learning disabilities in inpatient settings and prioritising community support for these individuals. However, the Committee suggest a “more radical approach to unlocking funding for community provision is urgently needed”.
The Committee believe that the work and output of The Building the Right Delivery Support Group is unclear and risks repeating the previous mistake of focusing on a “voluntary” approach to supporting autistic people and people with learning disabilities rather than addressing the fundamental flaws in funding flows that prevent community provision being adequately provided.
The report sets out a number of recommendations for the reform of inpatient facilities amongst them is the need for up-front investment to develop community care services, including supported accommodation and residential care. The Committee heard evidence that, over the medium to long term there are likely to be significant savings associated with various community options such as supported accommodation and residential care compared to inpatient unit costs with Rightful Lives co-founder Mark Brown concluding that: “the more an individual is removed from their community or the greater the level of institutionalisation, the more expensive supporting people becomes”.
The Committee’s findings chime with Care England’s submission concerning the need for providers to have certainty about funding, for state and privately financed care, and to invest in wider community development so that autistic people and people with learning disabilities can live independent and fulfilled lives in the community.