asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what provision exists to assist parents of the mentally handicapped; and what is his policy towards providing additional assistance.
Health and local authorities and voluntary organisations provide a range of services to assist mentally handicapped people and their families, including services needed to help a mentally handicapped person to live at home. Such services can include counselling and help by local authority and health authority professional staff, care provided during the day and overnight and residential care for varying periods, as well as the more general services of the NHS. The mentally handicapped, like other groups of handicapped people, are eligible for help under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 in the form of special aids and equipment and adaptations to the home where they live. They and their parents are also entitled, subject to the conditions laid down, to benefits under the social security schemes.I recognise that progress in improving services will, in general, be slow at a time of economic difficulties, but my right hon. Friend has indicated to authorities that we believe that priority should be given to the most vulnerable groups, including the mentally handicapped.