An advice in Ghana: ‘Don’t hide children with intellectual disability’

From GraphicOnline:

Auberon Jeleel Odoom Photo Inclusion Ghana

Parents of children with intellectual disability (ID) have been advised not to hide or confine their children, but to ensure their proper development and integration into society.

Mr Auberon Jeleel Odoom, National Co-ordinator of Inclusion Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which focuses on children with intellectual disability, made the call at a gathering of parents of children with ID from all over Ghana in Accra last Thursday.

He appealed to the parents to acquire knowledge on ID to enable them take good care of their children.

Mr Odoom asked society to stop the stigmatisation of such children so that their parents would stop confining them.

He called on the government to enact laws, specifically relating to the handling of ID children, to prevent them from being abused and discriminated against.

He called for the placement of special doctors at the various government hospitals to take good care of ID children since they needed special care when they fell sick.

Mr Odoom said the NGO was working to educate parents of children with ID on how to take good care of them.

He said the NGO had branches in all of the 10 regions, and called on parents with ID children to seek more information and knowledge on handling their children.

Mr Odoom expressed his appreciation to STAR Ghana for donating funds to the NGO to implement its activities.

“We have also received $20,000 from the Disability Right, an American NGO, to specifically help us address issues pertaining to discrimination against children with ID,” he said.

Mr Odoom appealed to parents of children with ID to send them to special schools established for such children.

In an open forum, parents appealed to one another to always ensure that their children were well dressed, report teachers and people who abused such children to the appropriate authorities and also spend more time with their children. — GNA

Housing for people with a learning disability

To read on the Guardian:

Note: Learning disability in UK is the same thing than intellectual disability elsewhere.

Tenants with learning difficulties face prejudice and lack of suitable housing

Private landlords are reluctant to offer accommodation to learning disabled people, but social housing is also scarce

By Sue Learner

Baker with Down's SyndrromeMany people with learning disabilities are now able to find fulfilling work – so why is suitable housing so difficult to secure? Photograph: Murdo Macleod

A lack of social and specialist housing coupled with prejudice and misconceptions is preventing people with learning disabilities living independently – and the situation is worsening.

Many people with learning disabilities want to live independently and could do so with the right support, yet they are denied choice about where they live and who they live with, and are often shut away in residential care homes.

A recent report from the charity Mencap, Housing for People with a Learning Disability, found just one in three people with a learning disability  lives independently in supported accommodation (as a tenant or as a home owner) while one in four still live in registered care homes.

Mencap fears even greater numbers will lose their independence as a consequence of the government’s reform of the welfare system.

Mark Horlock, executive director of housing at Dimensions, which supports people with learning disabilities and autism, has found the supply of housing for people with learning difficulties is shrinking. « One of the problems is that there is a shortage of social housing. We are also losing housing out of the social housing sector as people are using their right to buy, » he says.

« People with learning disabilities have previously been placed into inappropriate shared housing and if they have a roof over their heads they may not be seen as a priority for social housing by the local authority. So we try and access the private sector for them but then we have to deal with people’s misconceptions. Many private landlords like to steer clear of people with benefits and many will not want to make adaptations to their homes. »

Horlock says private landlords may also assume that people with learning difficulties may display challenging behaviour, and worry about damage. « Quite often we take out the lease with the landlord and then sublet the property to the tenant as the landlord can feel this gives them more protection from issues such as rent arrears and damage to the property, » he explains.

Horlock believes if people with learning disabilities are found appropriate accommodation they may need less support, costing public services less money: « there are good economic reasons for helping them live independently ».

Dimensions is educating private landlords so they are not so reticent about housing people with learning difficulties, and also runs a housing brokerage service in Essex. The scheme has helped 30 people to find accommodation in under two years. A member of staff acts as a broker between the potential tenant and landlord, finding out about the tenant’s needs and then working with housing associations and private landlords to meet them.

Finding social housing for people with learning disabilities is tough, but there are even fewer options available if these needs come together with physical disabilities requiring facilities such as accessible wet rooms and specialist baths.

« Landlords can apply for grants to adapt their properties for people with physical disabilities [but] it depends on the local authority and demand within that local authority, how available grants are for individual applications, » Horlock says. « Grants are not available for people who need to share the adaptation. It would help if local authorities made grants available for people who need to share adaptations. »

Having seen little progress from local authorities and central government, disability charities are stepping in to improve the situation themselves. Leonard Cheshire is due to build new accessible housing developments across the UK to pioneer independent living. Meanwhile Mencap’s housing arm, Golden Lane Housing, is developing a new social investment bond with help from the Big Lottery Fund. It hopes to raise up to £30m to invest in permanent homes for people with a learning disability.

For these charities, battling to give people with learning disabilities a place they can call their own home can have huge benefits. Living independently gives them a better quality of life and enables them to become part of the community.

Ian Fletcher, 22, and Jonathan Clarke, 21, who both have learning disabilities, recently moved in together into a house in Darlington. « We love it, » Fletcher says. « We have been friends for years, so we knew it would be good to move in together. We like our house and space. Now we can do what we want, when we want, in the community. »