Care services for people with learning disabilities drastically decline during the coronavirus pandemic

Around 70% of people in the North West with learning disabilities have had care services reduced during the pandemic.

A survey by learning disability charities Mencap and Sense found the decrease in support has left families struggling and in some cases at breaking point.

At the start of the pandemic support and activities for people with complex needs were cut back or closed and many of those services have still not resumed.

For adults with complex and challenging needs, meeting their friends and maintaining some independence has never been more important.

More than 250 adults with complex needs have continued to attend the service throughout lockdown.

Some day centres have kept their doors open throughout lockdown to help keep families together.

Hannah attends Active Tameside Everybody Can service five days a week, her mum Gillian says having the service has been a life line for the whole family.

Outside of coming to Tameside Active she doesn't come into contact with anyone body else. She cant use a telephone or use social media so effectively this is her support bubble.

Hannah's mum Gillian

Throughout the pandemic families have had to make the difficult decision of whether to send their loved ones to centres like these or to shield them away from the coronavirus.

Although the decision was a hard one, Gillian feels the benefits to Hannah's mental health were so important that they were happy to keep going to the centre.

On balance the benefits of Hannah coming here for her mental well being and health outweighs the worry and the fear that we had. 

Gillian, Hannah's mum

Hannah and her family are just one of many in this situation, more than 250 adults with complex needs have continued to attend the service throughout lockdown.

They have been taking part in a range of activities from pets corner to cookery and craft, music to multisports. Staff have also been helping some members with their personal care.

Andrew McPhail has autism, for the 18-year-old the centre is a home away from home.

This place is the centre of my world. Without this I would be lost.

Andrew McPhail

Councillor Eleanor Wills, who is responsible for health and social care in Tameside thinks these services are vital.

Eleanor says: "Community services like this are imperative to ensure our adults can keep stability within their lives, ensure they have routine, offer respite for families, we've had to put bubbles in place to ensure people are safe, safety has been paramount."

You can find out more about Active Tameside's Everybody can service here.