Chesterfield News

Council consults on changes to learning disability support

Residents are being asked for their views on proposals to change the way people with learning disabilities and autism are supported to lead fulfilling lives.

Derbyshire County Council plans to transform support so it focuses on an individual’s strengths to help them achieve personal goals rather than fitting people in to services that are available.

The introduction of the Care Act 2014 gave the council greater responsibility to ensure people with learning disabilities and autism lead independent lives.

Members of the county council’s Cabinet have approved the launch of a 12-week consultation which will run until 31 March 2019. Letters have been sent to everyone who currently uses learning disability services together with a questionnaire which they, their family and carers are invited to complete. Residents can also fill it in online.

A series of events have been planned for people who currently attend day services and their relatives and carers to give their views. The below events will be held in Chesterfield will run from 10am-12 noon on:

  • Monday 4 February – No Limits, Lower Ground Floor, West Street, Chesterfield, S40 4TY
  • Wednesday 27 February – Markham Vale Land Services, Unit 14, Markham Lane, Chesterfield, S44 5HY
  • Wednesday 13 March – Bolsover Day Centre, Oxcroft Lane, Bolsover, S44 6DJ

A meetings will also be held for young people with learning disabilities who are due to move from the support of children’s services on Monday 25 February – St Thomas Centre, Chatsworth Road, Chesterfield, S40 3AW.

Other meetings have been planned for outside the Chesterfield area, please click here to find out more.

Places need to be booked by contacting the county council on 01629 531307 or emailing

Under the council’s proposals:

  • People who are assessed as having the most complex needs could continue to use suitably equipped day centres to access community activities – although the activities and location offered may change
  • People who are newly-referred to the service but do not have complex needs would be offered one-to-one support to access activities which could include paid work, training or volunteering.
  • Current service users who are not assessed with complex needs can choose to continue using day services.
  • In the future everyone would be assessed under the council’s transport policy and if they are not eligible for support may have to make and pay for their own travel arrangements to and from the day centre.
  • The council would support voluntary and independent organisations to develop a wider range of opportunities available for people with learning disabilities and autism.
  • Redesign work-based day services offered by the council to become employment skills and training hubs. These would offer people the opportunity to receive training and support them into work and, where appropriate, paid employment.

Councillor Jean Wharmby, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Care, said: “We want to make sure our services help people with learning disabilities lead fulfilling lives.”

“They have told us they want to be involved in their local community, going out with friends, learning new skills or getting a job.”

“Instead of trying to fit people in to services we have available, we are keen to make sure our support focuses on an individual’s strengths to help them achieve personal goals.”

The county council currently supports around 680 people aged from 18 to over 65 with learning disabilities – of those, around 460 currently attend a county council day centre. Figures show that the number of people, particularly younger people, using day centres has fallen. Of the 15 council-run centres around the county, 14 have empty places as people are choosing to do other things.

Councillor Wharmby added: “I’d like to reassure people that no decisions will be taken until we have heard everyone’s views as we are committed to working together to come up with a service shaped by the people it affects most.”

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