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Most service users and carers expressed positive views on the opportunities for relatives with learning disabilitie...
Most service users and carers expressed positive views on the opportunities for relatives with learning disabilities moving out of hospital and nursing home settings into the community within East Lothian.

This is one of the main findings of a joint report published today by the Scottish Office's Social Work Services Inspectorate and the Scottish Hospital Advisory Service on the services for people with learning disabilities in East Lothian.

Patients were described by their families as being 'much happier', 'more talkative', 'clearer about what they wanted to do' and some said they were 'able to do much more than they did before'. In some cases, it appeared that a move into community housing had also helped residents to develop better and more appropriate relationships with their families.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, Scottish Office minister with responsibility for social work, said:

'The government's approach to community care is firmly grounded in helping people to lead, as far as possible, full and independent lives and therefore it is vital to ensure that patients' needs are carefully assessed on an individual basis.

'It is clear from the report that both patients and families are benefiting from the move into community homes and that people with learning disabilities are being well integrated into local neighbourhoods. There are however improvements to be made and the report has identified a number of recommendations to be taken on board by the local authority and health board. In approximately one year's time the evaluation team will make another check to see what progress has been made.'

The report raised some concerns that many people with learning disabilities who have always lived in the community were receiving the same kind of services as they had done for many years and these now needed to be updated to provide more suitable care. Specific services such as specialist health care and advice and improving the quantity and variety of respite care were also identified as areas to be improved on.

The voluntary organisation East Lothian Care and Accommodation Project (ELCAP) which is managing many of the changes in service provision on behalf of Lothian Health Board, is proving effective in providing quality care services for its clients, says the report.

- The evaluation was carried out in 1994. Nearly 50 service users and carers and to staff employed in the health and social work services in East Lothian were spoken to.

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