THREE years ago the Department of Health brought in national guidelines aiming to change the way people with learning difficulties were cared for and treated.
All councils were required to bring their policies in line with the guidelines set out by the then Labour Government.
Although the Valuing People agenda in 2001 addressed some of the equality problems experienced by disabled people, the Valuing People Now guidelines in January 2009 supposedly aimed to bring disabled people further into the community, help them get jobs and be treated equally to people without disabilities.
The guidance is explained in an ‘easy-read’ format on the DoH website.
It says the key messages for Valuing People Now are:
l People with learning disabilities should have the same rights and choices as everyone else
l People with learning disabilities have the right to be treated with dignity and respect
l People with learning disabilities should have the same chances and responsibilities as everyone else
l Family carers and families of people with learning disabilities have the right to the same hopes and choices as other families
Emails seen by the County Times from West Sussex County Council suggest that the changes made at Horsham’s Strawford Centre were made in response to the new national agenda, but in practice campaigners argue disabled people and people with learning difficulties are still not treated the same and cannot get jobs.