Merton holds first ever Learning Disability Conference

Over 120 people attended Merton’s first ever Learning Disability Conference at the Chaucer Centre this week.

Merton's first event Learning Disability Conference took place at the Chaucer Centre

Merton’s first event Learning Disability Conference took place at the Chaucer Centre

A performance from the Chilli Beans who are part of the Act Too Theatre Company-  a performing arts group for people with learning disabilities – was put on for visitors which included carers, the voluntary sector, and health and social care professionals.

As a result of the conference, more families will be using the ‘Thinking Ahead’ guidelines developed by the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities. The guidelines highlight how the life expectancy of people with learning disabilities is growing, meaning it is likely more may outlive their parents. ‘Thinking Ahead’ looks at how parents can allay their fears and get support to ensure their child will be looked after properly.

Key voluntary organisations such as Carers Support Merton, Merton Mencap and the Merton Centre for Independent Living used the day to make a pledge that they would work together to support families to take ‘Thinking Ahead’ forward.

Cabinet member for adult social care and health, Councillor Linda Kirby said: “Most parents see their children grow up to lead independent lives. They don’t have the constant worry of wondering what will happen to them when they are no longer around, unlike parents who care for their son or daughter with a learning disability. For them it is a constant worry as to what will happen to the person they have loved so dearly when they’re no longer around to care for them.

“The Thinking Ahead plan gives parents a chance to think about the future in a structured way and help to plan a path of care that will hopefully lessen their load. I am delighted that so many people came to today’s conference and found it very helpful.  We will work together with other agencies to see what we can do to help relieve this very heavy burden.”