Lead Organisation: Regional Partnership Board
This feedback was collected by the North Wales Learning Disability Transformation Team from the people they work with about their experiences between March and July 2020.
Changes due to lockdown
Day service settings shut down and social care and health community staff worked from home. In-house services appeared to adapt less quickly to lock down though contracted out services such as HFT, Tyddyn Mon, Co-options were able to adapt more quickly and offer online activities to those known to their services. Some quotes from families in North Wales are listed below;
We felt we weren’t in the loop initially and that we were abandoned.
Did services talk to families because we should have put our heads together?
Our world suddenly became very small
Citizens report losing their employment or having been away from volunteering opportunities having had a detrimental impact on their wellbeing.
If it had not been for Conwy Connect, Transformation team, All Wales People First and the participation groups what would we have had? We needed to be connected. We need those activities to continue.
Coming out of lockdown/shielding
- Families and providers are anxious about individuals leaving isolation particularly given their physical health vulnerabilities.
- Support has to be bespoke and person centred and practitioners are having to rapidly review and redesign each person’s day, requiring a great deal of input to review complex behaviour support plans and so on.
- There are concerns from people with learning disabilities and their families around approaches being taken to shielding and the restricted use of “bubbles” within shared supported living. While well intended, the result of some of these practices could have significant impacts on the rights, liberty and relationships of people with learning disabilities, do not always adhere to national guidance and therefore have a disproportionately draconian effect on people with learning disabilities living in these settings.
Workforce and availability of support
- Support workers report feeling exhausted. The workforce was depleted by people being off sick, self-isolating or furloughed. Again this is supported both by Paradigm and local experiences. Social care staff feel underpaid and undervalued particularly when compared with health colleagues.
- Gwynedd reported having the buildings available to provide respite, breaks and day services for people. Their issue was the lack of availability of staff. The care homes and 24 hour supported living services had to be prioritised, meaning staff hours were taken away from bespoke domiciliary support options that might have alleviated the stress on families.
- One local supported living provider reported challenges in supporting people with learning disabilities to access Zoom and other technologies as staff did not always have time to sit with individuals.
- A lack of skill and knowledge amongst those supporting people with learning disabilities, a lack of or restricted internet access and lack of access to equipment are the main issues barriers to digital inclusion.
- Statutory day services have stated they would have liked to have offered more virtual activities and meet ups, the digital infrastructure and skills were not in place to set this up.
- A number of citizens and advocates reported reluctance amongst providers and carers to allow people with learning disabilities to access the internet citing risk and confidentiality factors.
Guidance and availability of accessible information
- Agencies referenced the pressures of receiving large amounts of guidance, usually by email from several authorities at a time of pressure on their services. This was exacerbated for national providers who had to familiarise themselves with English and Welsh guidance.
- While easy read guidance and videos have been helpful, the production of materials has not always been timely and circulation of materials has been patchy.