Community Care for People with Learning Disabilities: Specialist Learning Disabilities Health Services Following Resettlement


St Mary's Hospital, London Road, Kettering, Northants NN15 7PW


Health services for people with learning disabilities have changed considerably in the recent past, with the resettlement of individuals from institutions and a focus on community care. However, there is little available information on national averages of specialist learning disabilities health service provision in National Health Service (NHS) Trusts which have completed their resettlement programmes. A survey of specialist health services to people with learning disabilities was undertaken by means of two postal questionnaires to NHS Trusts in England and Wales which provide learning disabilities services. Thirty NHS Trusts had completed their resettlement programmes and their specialist learning disabilities services were analysed in detail and comparisons made with the NHS Trusts which still retained placements in an institution. These comparisons showed that NHS Trusts which had completed the resettlement process had significantly fewer long-stay placements and employed significantly fewer learning disabilities psychiatrists than did other NHS Trusts. However, similar numbers of other learning disabilities health professionals were employed by the two groups of NHS Trusts to work with people with learning disabilities in the community. This suggests that when institutions close, the development of community health services has not been accompanied by the increase in resources that one might have expected.