Conwy County Borough Council’s in partnership with Conwy Connect for Learning Disabilities – Planning for the Future project was selected as a finalist in the Social Care Accolades 2015.
The Accolades, which are led by the Care Council for Wales, celebrate best practice – helping to professionalise the workforce and transform social care, early years and childcare across Wales.
Shortlisted in the Citizen-led services category, Conwy’s Planning for the Future project focused on learning disabled service users living in the family home with older carers.
People with a learning disability increasingly outlive their parents / carers so planning for the future, although hard, can bring peace of mind. When Conwy’s project started in 2011 there were about 30 lone carers over the age of 65 caring for a son, daughter or loved one in the family home.
The aim of the project was to get planning for the future out into the open. Some families had very clear ideas but hadn’t shared the ideas with social care staff, and there were families at the other end of the spectrum who simply did not want to think about it because it was so difficult to contemplate. There was also some uncertainty about the level of understanding among learning disabled service users living with older carers about what would happen if they could no longer live in the family home.
The project had two distinct groups in mind, the older parents/carers and the learning disabled adults living with them. The main aim for both groups was to share information and provide a forum where they could share concerns, ask questions and develop their own understanding of the situation and make their own plans. It was hoped that this would then provide some greater peace of mind to both the parents/carers and the person with a learning disability.
A stakeholder group, including Conwy staff, Conwy Connect members, parents / carers and people with learning disabilities was set up. A first event was held in 2011 for parents / carers. Since then Conwy have run 4 annual events ‘Lets Plan Together’ for parents / carers and 4 events ‘Key to my Future’ for people with learning disabilities. Service users who have moved on from the family present their own stories via short films, ‘chat show’ interviews and picture based power point presentations. Parents and carers do the same. This is often very moving and always goes down well. People who have been very anxious about the process, have felt reassured by other families explaining how it’s been for them.
he stakeholder group has also produced A ‘Planning for the Future’ guide. Families with their cared for person are encouraged to complete the sections that they think are important for them. This can then be kept in a safe place for the future.
It was always thought that there would be a ‘slow burn’ with this piece of work. People are only prepared to plan when the time is right for them. They may hear information one year about something and it has no relevance for them but then the next year it does. There is also a changing audience, some people have come every year and others dip in and out as it suits them. It is really from 2104 onwards that there have been significantly more approaches from families wanting to meet with social service to talk about future plans and this is the point we really wanted to get to in the first place. It is acknowledged that it takes time to build up the relationships necessary to undertake this work.
The project continues to develop, it is now open to all ages and this year Conwy Connect were successfully awarded a Lloyds Bank Foundation 3 year grant to employ a Planning for the Future Service Co-ordinator who will Support individuals with learning disabilities and their parents/carers to plan for and help them during their transition into independent living.
This post is also available in: Welsh