Valuing People (‘A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century’) was a government White Paper published in March 2001, by the Department of Health, who during the consultation process assumed the role of ‘lead department’.
The introduction to the White Paper explained its significance:
This is the first White Paper on learning disability for thirty years and sets out an ambitious and challenging programme of action for improving services.
The proposals in the White Paper (linked below) are based on four key principles: civil rights, independence, choice and inclusion. Valuing People takes a life-long approach, beginning with an integrated approach to services for disabled children and their families and then providing new opportunities for a full and purposeful adult life. It has cross-Government backing and its proposals are intended to result in improvements in education, social services, health, employment, housing and support for people with learning disabilities and their families and carers.
The full text of Valuing People (149 pages) may be found here: http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/document/cm50/5086/5086.pdf
A more accessible Executive Summary is available here: http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/moderngov/Data/Buckinghamshire%20Partnership%20Forum/20010724/Agenda/Item04a.pdf
The White Paper established a Learning Disability Task Force and Learning Disability Partnership Boards. The Learning Disability Partnership Boards still function, though several analyses have suggested that their introduction nationwide has been uneven and inconsistent, particularly with regard to how they are constituted and report.
In 2009, the government, aware of wide-spread criticism that Valuing People had ‘lost impetus’ published ‘Valuing people now: a new three-year strategy for people with learning disabilities’
The following articles from Rescare’s magazine Resnews provide a narrative of the process that led to the publication of the 2009 document, and a description of Rescare’s concerns at the time:
From Resnews No.4, 2007 (Dec):
Taking ‘Valuing People’ Back to the Future
The White Paper ‘Valuing People, A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century (2001)’ and its Statutory Guidance resulted from some four years of Government DH funding for research by Prof. Eric Emerson (formerly of the Hester Adrian Research Centre, Manchester University, now Professor of Disability and Health Research at the faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University) into the quality, costs and outcome of different types of residential provision to meet the diverse needs of people with learning disabilities and/or autism.
Minister Ivan Lewis MP has asked for a new name for his Valuing People ‘refresher’ document. We have suggested to the Minister ‘The Valuing People Reminder Document’, evidenced by ‘Valuing People (2001)’, citing:
“Caring for a family member with a learning disability is a lifelong commitment, which continues even when the person is living away from the family home. Carers make a vital contribution to the lives of people with learning disabilities, often providing most of the support they need. They are a crucial resource for ensuring that people with learning disabilities can live in the community. Statutory agencies do not always properly recognise the extent of carers’ contribution or its value.” (Valuing People (2001) Ch.5 Para.1)
“Carers face many problems and challenges. They need to be treated as valued partners by local agencies, not as barriers to their son’s or daughter’s greater independence.” (Valuing People (2001) Ch.5 Para.2)
“Excluding people with learning disabilities from services if they are found to be difficult to handle or present with challenging behaviour represents a major cause of stress for carers, who may be left unsupported to cope with their son or daughter at home. This practice is unacceptable and families must not be left to cope unaided.” (Valuing People (2001) Ch.5 Para.7)
“It is essential that the voices of carers are clearly heard in policy development and implementation at both national and local levels. Carers should be treated as full partners by all agencies involved.” (Valuing People (2001) Ch.5 Para.16)
“The Government expects local councils to give people with learning disabilities and their families a genuine opportunity to choose between housing, care and support options.” (Valuing People (2001) Ch.6 Para.15)
“No housing solution should be disregarded as a matter of deliberate policy. The role of public services is to facilitate choice not frustrate it.” (Valuing People (2001) Ch.7 Para.5)
“Local councils should therefore ensure that all housing options are considered when they are exploring the future housing, care and support needs of people with learning disabilities and their families. These options should include small-scale ordinary housing, supported living and village and intentional communities as well as residential care. None of these should be ruled out.” (Valuing People (2001) Ch.7 Para.11)
Minister Ivan Lewis has taken a much needed step to bring the ‘Valuing People (2001)’ vision back into the future. The implementation of ‘Valuing People (2001)’ in full is deserving of a reminder to that effect in bringing encouragement and hope back to Family Carers whose commitment is life long.
Rescare’s formal response to the consultative document ‘Valuing People Now: From Progress to Transformation (2007)’:
We thank you for the invitation to respond to the above consultative document, and are pleased for the opportunity to do so, though with some concern at what appears to be a non-holistic approach from what was to be a ‘Refresher’ exercise, but is now heralded as a ‘Transformation’. We had suggested to the Minister, when a title was sought, that ‘A Valuing People Reminder Document’ was what was required, and still feel that that would have been more appropriate.
However in responding to the ‘Valuing People Now’ consultative exercise, we do so as follows, with this general observation, to which we attach the completed questionnaire.
Run by families for families aided by many friends, we represent through 40 affiliated groups, individual and family members the views, concerns and aspirations of the many caring families whose dependent sons, daughters and relatives with learning disabilities are without capacity, many from birth, and often with a greatly reduced mental age which adds to their vulnerability.
People with learning disabilities do need life long care, support and protection to a varying degree according to the extent of their disabilities.
The multiplicity of needs to be met and the diversity of provision to meet them are fully accommodated in the Government’s all embracing White Paper ‘Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability’ for the 21st Century’ issued 2001. It was widely welcomed, particularly by the caring families to whom it brought encouragement and hope in reflecting the importance of their role of a life long commitment being at the forefront of the care equation even when their dependent relative lives away from the family home.
It needs to be remembered that the much revered White Paper (2001) and its Statutory Guidance was the result of some four years of Government funded research into different types of residential care provision by Prof. E Emerson, then at the Hester Adrian Research Centre, Manchester, now at Lancaster University. ‘Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century’ (2001) says all that is necessary.
Of significance is its choice in Housing for people with learning disabilities and their families. Its specified options are “small scale ordinary housing, supported living and village and intentional communities as well as residential care. None of these should be ruled out”. ‘Valuing People’ (2001) also says “No housing solution should be disregarded as a matter of deliberate policy. The role of public services is to facilitate choice not frustrate it.”
It is not a question of one type of provision versus another but a comprehensive service with each option having a part to play.
With the Government acknowledging the failure to overcome the lack of improvement in the lives of people with learning disabilities the fault lies not in ‘Valuing People’ (2001) but in the lack of its implementation at local level.
‘Valuing People: A New strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century’ (2001) demands to be implemented in full! An imposed ‘one size fits all scenario’ of supported living only which has become the policy practiced by many statutory local authorities is surely unacceptable, and in danger of becoming a contradiction of the Mental Capacity Act (2005) by not being in the best interests of many. Be warned the Future will be the Judge.
The only “transformation” required is in the “misinterpretation” of local statutory authorities and the overall direction of funding, which too often doesn’t arrive at the point of delivery intended.
In his foreword in the ‘Valuing People Now: From Progress to Transformation’ consultative document, the Secretary of State for Health, the Rt. Hon Alan Johnson MP confirms that “it stands by the commitments made in 2001.”
We trust that his Department, its Implementation Team and local statutory authorities will be reminded of this and their duty to comply.
…The introduction of the role of Deputy under the Mental Capacity Act (2005) has not received mention in ‘Valuing People Now’ document, and is an important omission reflecting against the best interests of those who are without capacity.
The Secretary of State’s statement that “’Valuing People Now’ stands by the commitments made in 2001” must carry the day”.
‘Valuing People Now: a new three-year strategy for learning disabilities’ was published in January 2009. The introduction to its Executive Summary stated:
‘Valuing People Now: A new three-year strategy for people with learning disabilities’ sets out the cross-government strategy for the next three years. In doing so, it takes account of the responses to the consultation, which ended in March 2008. In particular, this strategy:
- addresses what people have told us about the support people with learning disabilities and their families need
- reflects the changing priorities across government which impact directly on people with learning disabilities
- sets out the Government’s response to the ten main recommendations in Healthcare for All, the report of the Independent Inquiry into access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities, chaired by Sir Jonathan Michael
- provides a further response to the Joint Committee on Human Rights report, A Life Like Any Other?”
There is the clear impression that under the current Coalition government, Valuing People Now has been left to ‘wither on the vine’, on the basis that this ‘three-year strategy’ was only intended to run until this year (2012). There has not yet been a significant announcement on any next steps from the Department of Health. There is no central supervisory board or agency for Valuing People: the Valuing People Now Team disappeared in the purge of the QUANGOs. There is no longer a ‘central’ website (formerly http://valuingpeople.gov.uk/index.jsp). The inference to be drawn is that the implementation of Valuing People’s aspirations and values now lies at the local level, with Learning Disability Partnership Boards, Local Authorities and the various Health Authorities and Trusts.
As James Churchill, chief executive of The Association for Real Change, an umbrella body for learning disability care providers, said in 2010 at the news of the disbandment of the Valuing People Now Team: “We are going to be in the worst of positions if we are not very careful, with a Rolls-Royce policy document without the means to get on and deliver it”.