Planning for life : involving adults with learning disabilities in service planning
Policies for people with learning disabilities, as in the case with other groups of service users, have increasingly emphasised the importance of their involvement in the planning of their own services, and at a more general level in the development of their local authority community care plan and commissioning strategies. This thesis seeks to begin to explore some of the difficulties that may arise in attempting to implement such a policy through a case study of practices in one inner London Borough. The study includes a number of important interrelated themes including: the complexities of communication, normalisation, the nature of choice, citizenship and free will, and asks does social policy reform provision or create unrealistic expectations and burdens for social service professionals and service users. It is essentially a study about communication and its impact on choice and social inclusion. Focusing on communication between professionals and service users, their carers and advocates, the field study investigates the Council's strategic planning procedures in order to explore the relationship between service development and the preferences expressed by users. The findings are presented within a legislative framework, with particular interest paid to the government's White Papers 'Modernising Social Services,' 'Valuing People,' and the Best Value initiative. The study combines an historical account of policy development, and investigates social policies that have attempted to bring about change, while also exposing the contradictions within and between them. Because of this there are many challenges attached to this enterprise, and as a consequence the study is inevitably on a small scale and the answers it produces are tentative. Nevertheless it provides an indication of the nature and scale of the difficulties which social services will have to overcome if they are to make a reality of government policy in this area by engaging effectively with the personal experiences and lives of adults with learning disabilities and their carers.