Managing clients placed far away from their communities
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Managing clients placed far away from their communities

Rohit Shankar Clinical consultant in learning disability, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Exeter and Plymouth Medical School
Victor Olotu Consultant psychiatrist in learning disabilities, Devon Partnership NHS Trust, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Sharon Axby Nurse consultant in learning disabilities, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Claire Hargreaves Medical secretary, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
John Devapriam Consultant psychiatrist in learning disability and clinical director, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Care Quality Commission

Rohit Shankar and colleagues discuss the personal and economic costs of meeting the health needs of people with learning disabilities in out-of-county placements

Background The number of people with learning disabilities and significant health needs who have been placed in Cornwall from outside the county by other local authorities was estimated along with its effects on the individuals concerned and the health service.

Materials and methods Electronic health records of the local NHS trust for adults with learning disabilities were compared with the council’s social services learning disabilities register to screen for out-of-county placements. Records of individuals placed from outside the county over the previous three years were scrutinised to identify the reason for placement, capacity to consent, quality of transition and cost to local services.

Results A total of 155 of the 703 clients were from outside Cornwall, and 17 of the 155 had been resident in the county for no more than three years. All 17 lacked capacity to consent to placements at their places of residence. No close family members had acted as advocates for any of them. The cost to local learning disabilities specialist health services to provide unmet needs was found to be £117,000 per year.

Conclusions UK national guidance advocates the placement of individuals with learning disabilities close to their homes, yet out-of-area placements continue without proper consideration of good practice or the cost implications. Service users who do not have close family members to advocate for them appear to be especially vulnerable to this practice.

Learning Disability Practice. 18, 1, 29-34. doi: 10.7748/ldp.18.1.29.e1586


Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 12 August 2014

Accepted: 14 November 2014

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