by Lisa Wild
It is estimated that by 2030 there will be a 30% increase in the number of adults with learning disabilities aged 50+ using social care services (NTDi, 2014). And at the same time it is also reported that the number of people with learning disabilities in the population will be lot higher than the number actually known to services (Emmerson & Hatton, 2011).
Many older people with learning disabilities live at home with family carers who are older themselves and requiring support, or they live alone without support because family are no longer around. In both cases they often experience health inequalities, social isolation and can be vulnerable to hate crime and exploitation.
LD:NorthEast’s Tomorrows Project is now in its 7th year of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, and has had a significant impact on the lives of people growing older with a learning disability in North Tyneside. The main outcomes of the project are that people will feel less isolated in their community, will gain a better understanding of how to improve their health and well-being, and will feel more confident in dealing with everyday challenges that affect their independence – there’s no other project like it in the area.
Most importantly, the project helps people to deal with things that can be seen as small issues before they become big issues. Things like understanding a bill that may have become a debt, understanding the minefield of the benefits system or dealing with a health issue that may not have been spotted.
Projects Manager Julie said “so far we have worked with over 300 people growing older with a learning disability, many of whom are not known to the local authority and don’t qualify for support. People who literally had no-one in their lives now have friends and lives have been changed for the better. I’m so proud of what has been achieved by our small team of staff and volunteers.”
Referrals can be made to the Tomorrows project in various ways, whether that is directly by the person, a health or social care professional, by a friend or neighbour, or by a carer or family member. A member of the team will then make contact to arrange an initial visit, to meet and complete an Initial Assessment in order to best determine the appropriate support.