Specialist Services offer a range of support and care options for people with additional needs that are aimed at maintaining their independence.
Community Learning Disability Teams (CLDTs) work with adults aged 18 and over who have a learning disability and are not able to manage without the right kind of support. You can get help and advice on problems you may be experiencing with being listened to or understood; your education; keeping well; money and work; somewhere to live; things to do and helping others to care for you. Support can come from arts therapists; community nurses; dieticians; occupational therapists; physiotherapists; psychiatrists and psychologists; speech and language therapists and your doctor. Specialist services teams will also help you get advice and support from advocacy services; the Benefits Agency; the Housing Department and the police. If you are a family carer they can also assess your needs and help you support the person you care for.
Your local Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) should be your first point of contact if you have mental health issues. The Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT) are a community-based assessment and treatment service for people suffering mental health problems aged between 18 to 65 years. You can ask your GP to refer you or ask someone who knows you to contact the CMHT on your behalf. There is increased demand for home care for people with mental health issues arising from greater use of Supported Living instead of care home placements. Like other specialist services, this can be paid for (if you have been assessed as eligible) with a Personal Budget.
If you have a physical disability or a long-term illness, Adult Social Care and other organisations in the independent and not-for-profit sectors can provide a range of services to help you live as independently as possible. There are also services available to support someone who may be your carer. As with all support from Adult Social Care, your needs must firstly be assessed to determine the best ways to support you; your carer can also have an assessment. You may wish to discuss your needs with your family doctor in the first instance. If eligible, support from Adult Social Care includes: allocation of a Personal Budget; occupational therapists; help with equipment and adaptations to your home; activities within the community; help at home, and with leaving hospital; short breaks; help if required to move into residential or nursing home care; and help for carers.
If Adult Social Care arranges a care home placement for you, you should check a number of issues. What choice of home do you have and is this restricted by the amount of care you need? Is the provision in accordance with Care Quality Commission’s standards? Does the staff team in the home have good links with the local Adult Social Care Management Team?
Since April 2013, Disability Living Allowance for disabled people aged 16 to 64 was replaced by a new Personal Independence Payment. How much you’ll get depends on how your health condition or disability affects you. For further information, visit www.gov.uk/pip
Sensory Services teams, which includes rehabilitation workers and social workers, can provide information packs, advice and access to services as well as support from a network of national and local agencies. The teams provides services to all adults and children who are:
• blind or partially sighted or have a degree of sight loss;
• deaf or hard of hearing or have a degree of hearing loss; or
• deafblind or have a degree of dual sensory loss.
If you care for someone with a sensory need the Sensory Services teams can carry out an assessment of your needs as a carer to help you to continue to support them.
The End of Life Care Strategy
‘How we care for the dying is an indicator of how we care for all sick and vulnerable people. It is a measure of society as a whole and it is a litmus test for health and social care services’.
Although the subject of dying is often painful to contemplate and as a society we do not discuss death and dying openly, the way care professionals approach the process is incredibly important for the client, their family and carers. The Department of Health has published a Strategy for every organisation involved in providing end of life care. Each will be expected to adopt an overall coordination process, such as the Gold Standards Framework, whilst developing the best possible outcome for clients. Those being cared for will have the opportunity to discuss their personal needs and preferences with professionals who will be supporting them. These will be recorded in an Advance Care Plan so that every supporting service will be aware of the client’s wishes. All health and social care staff must be trained in communication regarding end of life care and will be trained accordingly in assessing the needs of clients and carers.
Programmes available include:
The Gold Standards Framework (GSF)
This can be used in various settings, for example hospitals, primary care and care homes, to improve the co-ordination and communication between different organisations involved in providing care for someone near the end of their life.
‘Preferred Priorities for Care’ (PPC)
This document is an example of an Advance Statement and is designed to help people prepare for the future and gives them an opportunity to think about, talk about and write down their preferences and priorities for care at the end of life. Despite general reluctance to broach this sensitive area, it is worthwhile asking potential care providers their approach to end of life care and whether they are following national strategies for implementing best practice within their home.
Advocates can help
Advocates can give advice, support and information to people of any age, helping them to voice their concerns and guiding them through difficult or challenging times. Consider using the services of an advocate if you feel unsure or concerned when you are faced with making an important decision about your care choices. They can be especially useful if you have a disability and you need to make your voice heard. Advocates are not there to tell you what to do or to make decisions for you, but to help you express your views and make your own decisions.