During the coming weeks, we know that some schools and colleges are closing or partially closing, which will affect EHC assessments, EHCP reviews and provision in school during this time. All of our advice for schools and parents about Coronavirus and its impact on SEND is available here.
Devon Information Advice and Support (DiAS) also offer information about coronavirus, school, education and SEND.
When you reach the age of 16, you can make your own decisions. The law gives rights to young people who are over 16 and no longer of compulsory school age. In the law and guidance these people are called ‘young people’. Young people can make decisions in their own right about the support they receive. This includes taking control of their own EHC Plan if they are able to. This page gives information about your rights and the laws that help make sure you are supported.
- The person-centred approach
How will you know if your review/meeting or assessment is person-centred?
- A person-centred approach should capture the voices of young people and adults, to empower them to be in control of their lives. You should be put at the centre of planning and decision-making. Putting you at the centre of planning and decision-making allows you, and others, to plan what is important to you. Such as: what you are interested in, what makes you happy and what your aspirations are. Also, the support you might need to stay healthy and safe, and to be a valued member of the local community and society.
The person-centred approach
- Have you been prepared to participate in the meeting, planning or review?
- Do you know what ‘the point’ of the meeting is? What is the plan?
- Do you know and can you express when things are going well and when they are not?
- Have your communication needs been addressed?
- Have you been asked what your views are? Are they different to your family?
- Do you feel your views have been heard and recorded?
- Do you feel that the review/plan/assessment is reflective of your whole life?
- If people are helping you to make certain decisions, do they understand what is important to you?
- Who is helping you to make decisions, and about what?
- The Mental Capacity Act
The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005:
- applies to everyone involved in the care, treatment and support of people aged 16 and over living in England and Wales who are unable to make all or some decisions for themselves.
- is designed to protect and restore power to those vulnerable people who lack capacity.
- supports those who have capacity and choose to plan for their future – this is everyone in the general population who is over the age of 18.
- All professionals have a duty to comply with the Code of Practice. It also provides support and guidance for carers.
- The Act’s five statutory principles are the benchmark and must underpin all acts carried out and decisions taken in relation to the Act.
- Anyone caring for or supporting a person who may lack capacity could be involved in assessing capacity – follow the two-stage test.
- The MCA is designed to empower those in health and social care to assess capacity themselves, rather than rely on expert testing – good professional training is key
- If capacity is lacking, follow the checklist described in the Code to work out the best interests of the individual concerned
- Understanding and using the MCA supports practice – for example, application of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards
- Mental Capacity Assessment and Best Interests Decision-Making Record
- Devon and Torbay Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) Service referral form
- Best Interests Meeting Guidance
- Multi-Agency Mental Capacity Act Practice Guidance
Five key principles
The Mental Capacity Act is underpinned by five key principles (Section 1, MCA). It is useful to consider the principles chronologically: principles 1 to 3 will support the process before or at the point of determining whether someone lacks capacity. Once you’ve decided that capacity is lacking, use principles 4 and 5 to support the decision-making process.
Principle 1: A presumption of capacity
- Every adult has the right to make his or her own decisions and must be assumed to have capacity to do so unless it is proved otherwise. This means that you cannot assume that someone cannot make a decision for themselves just because they have a particular medical condition or disability.
Principle 2: Individuals being supported to make their own decisions
A person must be given all practicable help before anyone treats them as not being able to make their own decisions. This means you should make every effort to encourage and support people to make the decision for themselves. If lack of capacity is established, it is still important that you involve the person as far as possible in making decisions.
Principle 3: Unwise decisionsPeople have the right to make decisions that others might regard as unwise or eccentric. You cannot treat someone as lacking capacity for this reason. Everyone has their own values, beliefs and preferences which may not be the same as those of other people.
Principle 4: Best interests
Anything done for or on behalf of a person who lacks mental capacity must be done in their best interests.
Principle 5: Least restrictive optionSomeone making a decision or acting on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must consider whether it is possible to decide or act in a way that would interfere less with the person’s rights and freedoms of action, or whether there is a need to decide or act at all. Any intervention should be weighed up in the particular circumstances of the case.
- Your rights
Everyone has a right to have wishes, feelings and aspirations for the future. Everyone has a right to have a voice and feel their views are heard. All people should be treated fairly and there is a law called the Equality Act which helps to make sure this happens.
Making decisions in advanceWhen you are not well sometimes it can be left to other people to make decisions about your life and your care. You can make your decisions and wishes in advance, to help other people know what works best for you.
The following pointers may help:
The person seeing you should explain how any information you give them might be shared, and about your right to talk to someone on your own.
The person seeing you should check that you agree with the help they are suggesting and explain the possible choices if you do not agree.
If you or your family need help from an interpreter or want information in a certain way, then the health/social care practitioner, or the person working with you, should try and organise this for you.
If you are not happy with the help you have received.
The Care Act 2014 says that: ‘the advocacy duty will apply from the point of first contact between a person and their local authority and at any later stage of the assessment, planning, care review, safeguarding enquiry or safeguarding adult review. If it appears to the authority that a person has care and support needs, then a judgement must be made as to whether that person has substantial difficulty in being involved and if there is an appropriate individual to support them. An independent advocate must be appointed to support and represent the person for the purpose of assisting their involvement if these two conditions are met’.
SCIE (2015) Independent advocacy under the Care Act 2014
- Technology Enabled Care and Support (TECS)
Technology Enabled Care and Support, or TECS, is the term for assistive technologies that can help people to live more independently in their homes.
If you would like to know what kind of TECS support might be available to support any eligible needs that you may have, please start by completing our self-help online tool. Alternatively, you can contact Care Direct on 0345 1551 007 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is more information about TECS, including a video showing the technology in action, on the Adult Care and Health webpages.
- Your money
If you are 16 or over you might be entitled to claim benefits and allowances in your own right. For eligibility and application process please see the links below:
- Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
- Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Personal Independence Payments (PIPs)
- Working Tax Credits
- Personal budgets
- Personal health budgets
If you are unable to manage your benefits someone can become an appointee on your behalf.
- Finding somewhere to live
Independent living does not always mean being on your own. You can live in your own home on your own. You can live in your own home with a carer. You can live in your own home with family and friends. Depending on how independently you are living you may need someone to help you manage your living accommodation. You will need to learn skills of daily living, such as keeping yourself safe within your home, managing bills, planning your meals and organising your household chores.
If you get your own home, you may also need to get help with or learn how to do things like:
- cooking and cleaning
- paying the bills
- making friends
- getting a job
- finding new things to do.
How do I rent a home?
You can rent a home from a council or housing association, a charity or voluntary organisation, a private landlord or someone you know like a family member or friend.
Council and housing associations are also called social landlords. You normally get this type of housing by going on the council housing register and using Devon Home Choice scheme. If you want to live with a friend, family member or partner long term then you can apply for this type of home together.
This can be a secure way of renting your own home, the rent is more affordable if you are working.
You may have to wait a long time before you are housed, you may not have much choice.
Renting from a charity or voluntary organisation
Many charities that support people with learning disabilities have properties that they rent out. Some are shared with others and some are self-contained.
Renting from a private landlord
You can rent from a private landlord in different ways, some people rent by going to an estate agent and choosing a home. Most councils help people access private rented housing by helping with the deposit or by having arrangements where the council or housing association lease from the private landlord and give you a tenancy
Renting a flat in an extra care or supported living scheme
Some housing providers have small groups of houses or flats clustered around some communal facilities, each person has their own self-contained home. There is usually support attached but you can get extra support from other sources if you need it. Most extra care schemes are for people 55 years or older.
Renting from someone you know
A relative or friend could buy a home to rent to you, or family or friends can build an extension on their home that they rent to you.
Can I get modifications to my home to enable me to live there more easily?
You could get a grant if you’re disabled and need to make changes to your home, for example to:
- widen doors and install ramps
- improve access to rooms and facilities – eg stairlifts or a downstairs bathroom
- provide a heating system suitable for your needs
- adapt heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use
Contact Care Direct at on 0345 1551 007 to arrange for an occupational therapist to visit. The Occupational Therapist can assess your needs in your home. Alternatively you may be able to get a grant for more minor changes to your home.
- Search Pinpoint Devon for Supported Housing
- Which? Guide – Letting Agreement Checklist
- Young People’s Housing Advice
- Devon County Council Supported Living
- Shared Lives – For people who are looking for somewhere to live in a family environment with additional care and support.
- Teenagers and transition to adult services
- Help to stay living at home
- Housing options for people with a disability
- Travel and transport
Getting to school or college
Please see the Devon County Council guide to Transport for children with special educational needs for more information about school and college transport. Devon publishes an Education Transport Policy each academic year, which sets out the travel arrangements we will make to support young people aged 16-19 and learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LDD) aged up to 25 to access further education.
Independent Travel Training
Accredited travel trainers work with students from mainstream and special schools, pupil referral units and colleges of further education.
Before any training commences the travel trainers liaise closely with parents, tutors, social workers and transport officers from the Transport Co-ordination Service. Watch this video to find out more about the program:
If you would like your child to take part in this scheme, please contact the Transport Co-ordination Service on 0345 1551019.
How do I access transport in the community?
Devon offers an Access Wallet which helps people with communication difficulties or disabilities to access transport. The access wallet does not give you free or discounted travel. If you are over 60 or disabled you may be entitled to free bus travel in Devon with a National Bus Pass.
Disabilities which qualify someone for a National Bus Pass are those which are considered permanent, or which are likely to last at least 12 months. Such disabilities should have a substantial effect on the applicant’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
There are seven disability categories:
- Blind or partially sighted.
- Profoundly or severely deaf.
- Without speech.
- Severe difficulty in walking.
- Without arms or has a long-term loss of the use of both arms.
- Learning disability.
- Unfit to hold a driving licence.
The Companion Bus Pass
We will provide, on application, a Companion Bus Pass to applicants of secondary school age or above who have a severe disability and are only able to access local bus services with the assistance of a travelling companion. You can find out more about this on the Travel Devon webpage.
- Keeping yourself safe
It is important that you look out for your own safety, as well as looking out for friends and family. You can keep yourself and your friends safe by following some simple advice. For more information about staying safe as an adult (when you are 18 or over), contact Care Direct.
How do I deal with emergencies? – Depending on how independently you are living, you will need to know how to respond and deal with emergencies or how to contact someone for help.
- Always tell someone who is close to you where you are and where you are going.
- Try and remain calm – it really helps in an emergency.
- In an emergency, where life is in danger, people are injured, offenders are nearby or if immediate action is required, call 999.
How do I keep myself safe?
Use this guide, produced by the Home Office, to help you to keep safe, and remember these tips:
- When you’re out with friends, always stick together.
- Always tell a parent or carer where you are going.
- Tell someone you trust if another person is making you feel scared or unhappy, even if the person who is making you feel unhappy is someone who is part of your family.
- Report any suspicious behaviour to a trusted person.
- Don’t take shortcuts, always stick to your normal safe routes.
- Only give trusted friends your personal details.
- Never accept a gift from someone you don’t know.
- Never get in the car with a stranger.
Sometimes, people with learning disabilities have so-called ‘friends’ who may exploit them. When someone pretends to be your friend but treats you badly, this is called Mate Crime. You can report this to the police.
The Barnado’s app – Wud U? gives advice and guidance on how to avoid being sexually exploited and stay safe.
Staying safe online
Lots of young people use the Internet. It can be a fun thing to do but there are dangers that you need to be aware of to keep you and your friends safe from harm. You can find out more about how to stay safe by visiting the Devon Children and Families Partnership website.
- Social and community skills
How can I join in with leisure and social activities?
You can use Pinpoint to find out about social groups in your local area. There are a range of youth services and community facilities which you can access and will support young people with different needs.
Devon Voluntary Action (DeVA) can help you to volunteer locally. DeVA want to make becoming a volunteer as easy as possible for everyone, no matter who you are, what your age or background is or where you come from.
What help can I get to access social opportunities?
A Personal Assistant (PA) is someone employed to help a person live independently and achieve the activities they want to do. Devon Choice and Support Services for Independent Living can help you employ a Personal Assistant or an Enabler. This could be funded through direct payments.
You can go online and use the internet or social media, but make sure you stay safe online and protect yourself against cyber-bullying and exploitation – look at the ‘keeping myself safe’ section for more information.
Think about the following questions:
- What do want to achieve with your life?
- Would you like to go to college? Further education? Would you like a job? What knowledge and/or qualifications do you need to do this?
- Do you want to volunteer some of your time to a good cause or get involved in local events, politics etc.?
- How would you like your home life to be in the future?
- Do you want to develop your skill in a certain sport or other physical activity?
Now you can make a (SMART) plan to achieve your goals
S – you will need to have a specific goal in mind.
M – measurable is about how will you know when you have reached your goal?
A – make sure you set a goal that is achievable.
R – your goal needs to be relevant and realistic. If you are looking for a skilled job you will not be able to achieve this without the relevant qualification or experience.
T – set yourself time limits to reach your overall goal or individual milestones.
Time management – you will need to learn to manage your work and leisure time well in order to achieve your goals.
You need to know the difference between what is urgent and what is important. The Priority Matrix, from skillsyouneed.com, can help you decide what you need to do straight away and what can wait until later.
- Young People’s Housing Advice – your options for local housing support
Human Rights Act 1998 – information about the rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to
- The Equality Act 2010 – information about equality and protected characteristics
- The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 – your legal rights if you have a disability
- Easy Read Guide – The Mental Capacity Act 2005 – what is mental capacity and how does it affect you?
- GOV.UK – Court of Protection – what the court of protection does for people who can’t make decisions for themselves
- Devon County Council Supported Living – support and accommodation for people with disabilities or mental health problems
- Shared Lives – For people who are looking for somewhere to live in a family environment with additional care and support.
- Housing and Support Alliance – now called Learning Disability England, this group brings together self-advocates, families, professionals and academics alongside our organisational members to create a strong voice.
- Young People’s Housing Advice – your options for local housing support
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