Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Learning Disability Day Opportunities Transformation

To update the panel on the progress of the Learning Disability Day Opportunities Transformation.



The Assistant Director Commissioning and Business Support presented the report advising the Panel that the Day Opportunities service was modernised a few years ago, to provide a variety of offer across a range of services.  The majority of services were provided by the Council and were closely associated with the passenger transport service, provided by GSPlus, which made for an expensive and somewhat inflexible service.  The service was highly regarded by users and families and was always full to capacity, 200 individuals, whilst there were currently 915 adults registered with a learning disability within the Borough, of which 615 are receiving some sort of service from the Council.


She continued that it was proposed to gradually change the provision of services and in early 2018 a pilot would be established of 30 individuals, including 10 young people transitioning to adult service provision, who both they and their families were willing and interested in supporting a new way of working.  They would be supported by Day Opportunities staff, Community Learning Disability officers and Service Commissioners in identify personal budgets and develop bespoke support plans and packages of care that supported the individuals in a more flexible way than day services could, given availability. The pilot scheme would be evaluated after six months and gently expanded, in as painless way as possible. As current services became less well used they could be closed down or commissioned out to social enterprises.


In response to Members’ questions the Assistant Director Commissioning and Business Support advised that the majority of users of the Day Opportunities Service used the provided passenger service.  It was hoped that there would have been a reduction in passenger service users, as they become independent, but this has not proven to be the case. The service was also used by a high number of older people and may not support younger, independent service users.


She confirmed that the voluntary sector provided a number of valued services and, as she was also responsible for commissioning 3rd Sector provisions, she was looking at the next round of commissioning and ensuring that lessons had been learned from failings over the past couple of years and how the sustainability of services would be ensured.  She advised that a number of 3rd sector partners were happy to work with the Council in developing a quality assurance framework which would provide the required information to ensure quality, safety and financial viability without over monitoring.


The Assistant Director responded to Members that a number of service users had a Freedom Pass, but these were not funded by the Council.  Clients could, in future, also look at using part of their independence allowance on taxis.  She continued that work was being undertaken by colleagues in GSPlus to widen their range of available vehicles.  Further, more taxi companies may be encouraged to have wheelchair friendly cars, where individuals commission their own transport.


Members were concerned that some service users would have a higher level of need than others and if the independent allowance process would be suitable for all.  The Assistant Director assured Members that almost all users, including those with a higher need, should be able to move to using a personal budget, with the support of an advocate. 


The Assistant Director confirmed to Members that the Day Opportunity services was at its capacity of 200 and there was a greater demand for the service than could be met and it was anticipated that the Personal Allowance could offer access to similar services to more users.  Further, many of the clients, as well as their parents, were getting older and a number of parents and carers had concern over long term care; the independence allowance could support individuals in selecting residential care.


Members asked how many service users, within the Borough, were in receipt of personal budget (Independence Allowance Scheme).  The Assistant Director advised that she would provide this information directly to Members.

Action: Assistant Director Commissioning and Business Support



The Assistant Director responded to Members that, whilst there was a financial implication in providing a building and passenger based service, such as Day Options, to a small number of users, this was not the basis for the new direction.  The personal budget (Independence Allowance Scheme) should be more cost effective and allow individuals to access service better suited to their individual needs.


The Scrutiny Panel accepted an address from a representative from Keep our NHS Public who noted that the proposal to move to personal budgets had been adopted by a number of authorities and resulted in people with learning disabilities losing their regular clubs.  These clubs were of great support to people with learning disabilities and there had been immense public backlash to the closures.   How widely had individuals and their families been consulted on the changes and the possible implications.  Further, as individuals needs escalate through aging or complex medical needs how difficult would it be to get the allowance re-assessed or changed?


The Assistant Director advised that her colleagues had undertaken a lot of work, looking at other Boroughs and there was an awareness that a number had closed day care centres, often due to budgetary constraints.   She concurred that learning disabilities clubs were an important and valuable place for many people to go and there was no intention to move people, who had used these established networks for 20 years and still wanted to use them.  Whilst a personal budget would not provide for 7 hours, 5 days a week, it was intended that users will access services for a few hours in an evening or weekend and find their own groups of friends; it is likely that this will be taken up by younger adults who do not have the same established networks She continued that Greenwich will take its own approach.


Resolved –


That the update on the progress of the Learning Disability Day Opportunities Transformation, specifically looking at the reasons for change; communication and engagement process; findings and considerations; vision for a new person centred service offer and next steps be noted.


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