Life Not Improving For People With Learning Difficulties

The lives of around 40,000 people with learning disabilities in Scotland have not improved in the last six years and in some cases have deteriorated, a major study has revealed. And equality of opportunity does not exist in the workplace, according to the research which was commissioned by Enable Scotland, the leading charity in the field. The organisation said that the survey had demonstrated that individuals with learning disabilities still did not have equal access to the things in life that most people aspired to and took for granted.

Key findings of the study, the largest of its kind, showed that they wanted a home, independence, friends and relationships.

However despite signs that people were getting more opportunities to make friends, the survey indicated that people with learning disabilities north of the border – the number is estimated at 120,000 – were 25 times less likely to be married than other people. And less than a third had a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Enable Scotland initiated the research to learn of the impact of the Scottish Executive’s policy for adults and children with learning problems “The Same As You?” introduced in the year 2000.

The organisation believes that the policy is reaching many but adds that for others “there is a long way to go”. It claims the message around friendship illustrated that services needed to be delivered differently to help people overcome the barriers that they face in meeting new people and keeping in touch with old friends.

Two thirds of those who responded to a questionnaire believed their lives had improved in the period since the introduction of the executive policy which suggested people should be moved out of long stay hospitals into homes of their own.

However one third disagreed saying their lives were still the same or had got worse. Three quarters of the respondents said they lived where they wanted to live, whether in their own home or with family. However a third maintained they had not been given the say in choosing the people who support them.