Time for Change: Improving care and support for people with learning disabilities

April 11, 2019

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On 12th March 2019, ExChange Wales held its first conference of the year; ‘Time for Change: Improving Care & Support for People with Learning Disabilities’, at Llancaiach Fawr Manor in Caerphilly County Borough.



The day was chaired by Sian Davies, Head of Strategic Programmes at Mencap Cymru.


The morning began with the introduction of our first speaker, Dr Sara Ryan, a researcher from the University of Oxford.



Presentation: Current challenges and dilemmas within learning disability research and activism


In her presentation, Dr Sara Ryan discussed her journey from academia to activism after the premature death of her son Connor whilst he was in the care of the state. She spoke passionately about the lessons that should be learnt from the mistakes that were made and how fighting for justice takes its toll on families that have lost a loved one.




“When your child dies in the care of the state you are forced to endure reliving it repeatedly during the inquest process”



The findings from the Independent Review into deaths of people with a learning disability 2011-2015 were also outlined in Dr Ryan’s presentation; those with learning disabilities being found on average to die 16-18 years before their peers. After highlighting the fact that in 2010 only 2% of articles published in 'Disabilities and Studies' journals featured those with learning disabilities, Dr Ryan concluded her talk by emphasising the need for those with learning disabilities to be included in research by stating ‘making sure research samples are diverse is important. Do not exclude anyone from your samples'.


Click here for Dr Sara Ryan's presentation



Presentation: Physical & mental health of families who live with an adult relative with learning disabilities


“In the UK over 35% of adults with a learning disability live with family or friends”



The next speaker of the day was Dr Jillian Grey from CASCADE at Cardiff University. Dr Grey discussed how families who care for adults with learning disabilities often have poorer health than non-care giving peers. It was highlighted in her research that 56.6% of carers suffer with depression or anxiety and how important it is that carer families have enough resources and support for their health in order to adopt problem solving coping strategies.


Click here for Dr Jillian Grey's presentation



Video: Moving on well


Before the first break, our delegates watched a ‘Moving on well’ video provided by Vale People First.


Take a look at the Vale People First videos here



Discussions continued in earnest during the coffee break.