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Joe’s Soapbox

author icon author icon 26/04/2023 author icon Joe's Soapbox

I am really concerned about a situation in West Wales.

There is a proposal to merge mental health in patient services with learning disability in patient services.

This is worrying for a few reasons.

First of all, a learning disability is not a mental health issue.

The health board proposal could lead to professionals misunderstanding this.

And could lead to people with learning disabilities being placed in mental health facilities.

Such as Assessment and Treatment Units (ATU’s).

A.T.U’s are for people with mental health difficulties.

A learning disability is not a mental health difficulty.

An A.T.U is not the right place for people with learning disabilities to be.

They do not offer the support that people with learning disabilities need.

And can sometimes lead to distress behaviour.

Distress behaviour that leads some people to think a person has a mental health difficulty.

When in fact, they are distressed because they are not getting the support they need.

I am also very concerned because people with learning disabilities have not been properly included in this proposal.

They have been consulted with but have not been worked with in co-production.

Co-production means you start with a blank page and professionals and people with learning disabilities work together.

Consultation means professionals have already thought about what they think should happen and then ask people with learning disabilities their opinion later.

People with learning disabilities need to be included right from the start.

This is because only people with learning disabilities will know whether a proposal is right or wrong for them.

Even though the proposal may be very well intended.

We are still facing a lot of challenges in Wales between how our services should be delivered and how they are actually delivered.

There needs to be closer working between the Welsh Government and local authorities to make this happen.

We are working with Self-Advocacy groups in West Wales to challenge this.

And our Consortium partners:

  • Learning Disability Wales
  • Mencap Cymru
  • All Wales Forum of Parents and Carers
  • Downs Syndrome Association
  • Cymorth Cymru

I am worried in case this happens across the rest of Wales too.

Especially as money becomes tighter for local authorities.

It is important we don’t go backwards.

To a world where people with learning disabilities are placed in institutions.

Places that damage them and medicalise their condition.

People with learning disabilities and autism need appropriate services.

As promised in the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act.

We will keep you updated.

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