People with learning disabilities have their say as part of The Big Conversation

Merton council welcomed the huge response from over 380 people who took part in a borough-wide initiative for people with learning disabilities, their families, carers and the professionals who work with them.

The council jointly with social enterprise Community Catalysts embarked on a 2-month Big Conversation engagement which ended in mid-July.

Community Catalysts helped to facilitate the process – which invited people to express their views on a variety of relevant topics including current day, evening and weekend services.

Surveys received including online, paper surveys, accessible and easy read. People were asked what future changes they would like to see in the range of services offered in the community.

The results have been pulled into the Big Conversation Report. The reports says:

  • Over 380 people contributed to the Big Conversation, and almost 70 per cent were people with lived experience of learning disability and/or autism
  • Although many adults highly value the day services currently offered in Merton (just over 80 per cent), whilst other key groups of people – including young people are not currently well served
  • Over 60 per cent of families of adults said that the day services offer what their family member needs very well or well
  • The results of the Big Conversation found that younger people and their families often want different things to older people and their families
  • Most young people and their families (60 per cent) felt uninformed about the support that might be available to them in the future
  • The Big Conversation generated great ideas on how to retain the highly valued elements of day services, and improve the things that could be better
  • The COVID-19 pandemic had a big impact on people and the support that they received and wanted during the day

The Big Conversation findings also highlighted areas for improvement. Community Catalysts will produce a further report titled ‘The Big Explore’ which will identify areas for development and wider considerations, such as adult learning, employment and travel.

Councillor Rebecca Lanning, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health said:

“I’m really pleased that people have spoken up about what is meaningful and relevant to them today. It’s clear that the findings of the Big Conversation will help shape future services for all people with learning disabilities, and it’s critical that improvements are made to ensure the day services we provide are highly valued by our community. I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to provide their views, and shape the future of service provision in Merton. Our aim is to ensure that people with learning disabilities in Merton are supported and empowered to live fulfilling lives- as independently as possible and with access to the choice and support that they need.”

A resident with learning disabilities, who took part in the Big Conversation said: “We discussed opportunities at our supported living site about the Big Conversation. I found it very interesting and decided to fill in the survey.”