The need

Of the UK’s population, 19% of working age adults live with a disability. The challenges for people living with disabilities are considerable, particularly in childhood but the focus placed on the opportunities and the development needs of children does ensure a greater level of commitment to beneficial outcomes. However serious challenges remain for adults with disabilities. As children transition to adulthood, funding and care protocols dramatically change. This leaves many in the sometimes traumatic position of navigating what is – for all young adults – a naturally difficult time, without the stability of vital care and support.

Public Health England (PHE) 2020 identified 10,032 children with PMLD, 14% of children registered with a learning disability. 80% of these are in special schools/care homes and will need to transition to adult placements. There are no other provisions in East Cornwall or South Devon for young adults, able to offer similar care and opportunities for young people with PMLD.

Today’s economic climate poses a further challenge with funding being extremely difficult. Young adults with physical and learning disabilities need extra support and this is often limited from their local social services. It is critical therefore that support is available both professionally and within peer groups as many need to reach out for help.

For young adults – of all abilities – there are defined pathways with milestones set in development, education and care. The concerns and outcomes therefore are clearer cut… or are they? Individual programmes for young adults are charted with official monitoring and governance on practice. However, the truth is that cultural judgements and social barriers are a major influence in the standards and delivery – especially in the case of young adults with additional needs.

The important stages of further education and employment become areas of uncertainty, facts clearly underlined by the national figures: Just over 1/3 of adults living with disabilities are in further education – 14% of whom have PMLD – but it is reported that a quarter of people living with disabilities have no qualifications compared with the national figure of 9%. Of the working population over 6.9 million live with a physical or learning disability, with only one in ten adults with learning disabilities being in full or part-time employment.

The figures will only increase; most likely by 14-20% for adults with learning disabilities within the next decade. The challenges, therefore, will only become more pronounced and long-term solutions will likely require significant societal change and readjustment.