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Mental Handicap Services

Volume 130: debated on Wednesday 30 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what measures will be undertaken by his Department and by local authorities to monitor the quality and effectiveness of community-based services for mentally handicapped people provided by his Department, the voluntary sector, the independent sector and local authorities;(2) what steps are being taken by his Department to ensure that Health Service managers and practitioners are informed of his Department's policy on mental handicap; and what measures are being taken to ensure that they are carrying out the policy.

[holding answer 16 March 1988]: The Government's policy on the care of mentally handicapped people has been summarised and issued to health authorities and social services departments in a number of publications including "Mental Handicap: Policies and Priorities" under HN(85)2/LASSL (85)6 as annex 2 of the Government's response to the report of the Social Services Select Committee on "Community Care with Special Reference to Adult Mentally ill and Mentally Handicapped People" (November 1985. Cmnd. 9674). We shall be reviewing our community care policies in the light of the Wagner and Griffiths reports and reactions to them, bringing forward our own proposals in due course.Health authorities are responsible for monitoring their own services. The Department regularly assesses progress and plans through the annual review system. The social services inspectorate maintains liaison with local social services departments, monitors the development of personal social services and helps authorities to improve and maintain standards. The inspectorate has just completed a study of the implementation of the Registered Homes Act 1984, which included 11 visits to authorities and independent homes of which 18 had facilities for mentally handicapped people. The inspectorate has also completed a study of day services for mentally handicapped people in 13 local authorities chosen to be nationally representative and a selected sample of non-statutory provision.The Department also obtains information about health and social services through visits and reports from the national development team for people with a mental handicap, which advises health authorities and social services departments on the development of their services and draws attention to good practice. In addition, information is also obtained through the central collection of statistics, correspondence, discussions and visits involving private and voluntary provision of care as well as the statutory authorities.