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Local authorities are passing their budget cuts through to the very people they are there to support, and acting unlawfully in the process.
We may be in a time of austerity, but the fact is that there is a law which must be followed, and using the reason of budget cuts to justify lack of support provision is not acceptable, or lawful. The Care Act places legal duties – actions that absolutely must be taken – on local authorities and there is no justification for going against these duties.
Knowledge is power
Often, family carers are not considered by professionals as ‘experts’ with regards to their relative, despite holding a wealth of knowledge and history, and having assumed multiple roles by the time their relative reaches adulthood; advocate, coordinator, commissioner, negotiator, counsellor (the list is not exhaustive!). The majority of family carers struggle to keep up­to­date with health and social care law and policy developments as they are too busy supporting their relative and living their lives!
Hft...who we are
Hft’s FCSS believes in providing family carers with knowledge about their rights in law and policy, enabling them to develop the confidence to get themselves heard by professionals and challenge when they or their relatives are not being appropriately supported.
There is no doubt that through an awareness of their rights and the duties of local authorities, people have improved their life situations and reduced future anxieties. Feedback from our workshops and one­to­one support demonstrates the difference that knowledge of the law makes. As a result of the help Hft has provided, family carers have, among other things, been able to successfully challenge local authority decisions to reduce support. In addition, more family carers have accessed support following a carer’s assessment, which they originally thought would be a waste of time. Others have seen personal budgets reinstated, an increase
in levels of support, and improved relationships between family carers
and professionals.
FCSS’s dedicated team gives telephone support, designs and delivers workshops and develops resources specifically targeted to provide family carers with the go­to information and support that they need. Most importantly, it gives them the confidence to challenge poor and misinformed practice with the reassurance that the Care Act now reinforces this.
Many people with learning disabilities and their families are understood by the professionals who take a personalised approach to build support around them. However thousands of people struggle to access even the basic levels of support they are entitled to. Over time, as people and family carers gain information so they can exercise their rights to ensure they are well supported, practice will have to improve.
i
  FCSS is running workshops about the Care Act.
To find out more...
Visit: www.hft.org.uk/careactworkshops or get in touch call: 0808 801 0448
      Since Hft was established, some things have changed significantly, while others ­ like our desire to give people with learning disabilities more fulfilling lives ­ have stayed the same.
Our history: In the 1960s, there were limited opportunities available for people with learning disabilities when they reached adulthood. So, in 1962 a group of visionary parents that had children with learning disabilities and who wanted to ensure a better life for them, set up Hft.
To ensure their children would continue to learn and develop and fulfil their full potential after leaving school, these parents joined together to purchase Frocester Manor in Gloucestershire, creating a home in which people with learning disabilities could be supported to lead fulfilling lives.
From this small beginning, Hft has grown to support more people with learning disabilities and their families.
As well as small, person­centred residential care homes, we now support more people to live independently in their homes through our supported living services. We also provide support for people with learning disabilities to take part in activities, to make friends or develop relationships and to find work.
Launched in 1993, Hft’s Family Carer Support Service (FCSS) provides one to one support and information to family carers supporting a relative or friend with a learning disability, supported by Hft or other learning disability service providers.
Hft is also a market leader in the provision of what we call ‘personalised technology’ – using assistive technology to support people with learning disabilities to achieve greater independence in their lives.
In May 2013, Hft merged with Self Unlimited, a charity that was also set up in the 1960s to provide support for people with learning disabilities. Originally known as CARE (Cottage And Rural Enterprises), Self Unlimited’s similar values and philosophy meant a merger between the two charities made sense, as the combined charity benefited from the wealth of experience and knowledge of both organisations. Following the merger, the larger, stronger Hft now supports more than 2,500 adults with learning disabilities nationwide.
Although things have changed since the 1960s, what hasn’t changed is our desire to achieve better lives for people with learning disabilities, and to support their families in providing the best possible future for them.
Hft
Family Carer Support Service 5/6 Brook Office Park,
Folly Brook Road,
Emersons Green,
Bristol BS16 7FL
Email: familycarersupport@hft.org.uk
Website: www.hft.org.uk
Calls from family carers Freephone: 0808 801 0448
Admin enquiries: 0117 906 1751
Social Media:
Twitter @Hftfamilycarers Facebook.com/familycarersupport youtube.com/familycarersupport
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