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Identify learning disability before school age, conference told

Children who have learning disabilities should be identified before they reach school age to ensure they receive proper support, the chief officer of a pioneering organisation overseeing health and social care in Manchester tells a conference

Children who have learning disabilities should be identified before they reach school age to ensure they receive proper support, the chief officer of a pioneering organisation overseeing health and social care in the greater Manchester region told a conference.

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Jon Rouse speaking at the Learning Disability Practice
Conference in Manchester. Picture: Neil O’Connor

In 2015, 37 NHS organisations and local authorities in greater Manchester signed a landmark agreement with the government for a new organisation, the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, to take charge of health and social care spending and decisions.

Improve school readiness for all children

Partnership chief officer Jon Rouse told the Learning Disability Practice Conference 2017 in Manchester how the devolved authority was hoping to ensure people with learning disabilities in the region get the support they need from an early age.

One of the partnership's key aims is to improve school readiness for all children, he said.

Support and the assessment

‘One of the things we have emphasised to the mayor of greater Manchester, as a priority, is that children and young people need to be identified in early years with learning disabilities and with special educational needs, to make sure they get that support and the assessment they need well before they actually get to the school gate,' he said.

Mr Rouse said supporting people with learning disabilities had not just been singled out for just one project but had been factored into all areas of health and social care.

‘If you go out around the centre of Manchester you’ll find plenty of people sitting on the streets. I would bet that the majority of those people have an underlying learning disability, autism or Asperger.'

Making services better and less confusing

Under the partnership, Mr Rouse said local authorities and clinical commissioning groups are pooling their budgets and merging their governance to commission joint services.

This is aimed at making services better and less confusing for service users and carers.

He said the partnership had helped see an increase in nursing student applications in the area by 11% this year.


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