Future of Somerset's Learning Disabilities service to be decided
SOMERSET’s Learning Disabilities Provider Service could be outsourced following a public consultation due to start this month.
The ten-week public consultation about how one of Somerset County Council’s largest services may be run in the future was agreed on Wednesday, September 11. An evaluation will follow of what both the private and voluntary sector has to offer.
Supporting 900 people through county council’s in-house Learning Disabilities Provider Service (LDPS) costs £26 million a year. The service employs 1,230 staff in day centres, shared houses, supported living, employment support and short break services.
The LDPS provides services for just under half of adults with learning disabilities. The rest are supported by services delivered by other organisations under contract. The council is exploring whether it should extend the amount of support delivered by other organisations and volunteers, or keep the service as it is.
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Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, William Wallace, said: “The Council wants to make sure that people with learning disabilities get the best possible support in the future and we are looking at three ways of doing that.
“No decision has been made and I’m sure that people with learning disabilities will have a strong voice. We will make sure there is expert independent support for them to express their views throughout this process.”
The public consultation will ask people’s opinions on the following three options, as well as seeking comments on the services that people receive and what they would like to receive.
Option one is to leave things as they are with the Learning Disabilities Provider Service continuing to be owned and run by county council.
Option two is for county to create a new organisation separate from the council, such as a publicly owned trust or not-for-profit organisation and transfer all or some of the existing service to that new organisation.
Option three is to ask other care providers to bid to take over some or all of the Learning Disabilities Provider Service.
After the consultation has ended a full business case will be considered by Somerset County Council’s cabinet. This will include the views received and an evaluation of what both the private and voluntary sector has to offer.
County council says it will be publicising details about how to take part in the consultation, due to start before the end of September. People using the service, their families and carers will be contacted directly and invited to have their say.
Last year, with the help of the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi), sessions were held for service users and carers across Somerset to help county council work determine what is required to meet the needs of people who use the service and their families and carers, over the next 10 to 15 years. A decision by the cabinet on what option to take is expected in February 2014.