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Adult Learning Disabilities Service

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability can affect the way a person understands information and how they communicate. This means they can have ongoing difficulties with;

  • understanding new or complex information
  • learning new skills
  • coping independently

A learning disability happens when a person's brain development is affected, either before they are born, during their birth or in early childhood.

This can be caused by things such as:

  • the mother becoming ill in pregnancy
  • problems during the birth that stop enough oxygen getting to the brain
  • the unborn baby inheriting certain genes from its parents that make having a learning disability more likely – known as inherited learning disability
  • illness, such as meningitis, or injury in early childhood

Sometimes there is no known cause for a learning disability.

Many people with learning disabilities also have sensory and/or physical impairments; they can also have Autism, but not those who have a higher level autistic spectrum disorder who may be of average or even above average intelligence – such as some people with Asperger’s Syndrome.

A learning disability does not include all those who have a “learning difficulty” which is more broadly defined in education legislation.

A person with some form of learning disability will know that everyday activities like work, education and jobs around the house can be a challenge. The person may experience prejudice from other people who don't understand about learning disabilities, or feel lonely because they don't have anyone to talk to.

Who are we?

The Learning Disability Team at Bedford Borough works with adults and young adults (preparing for adulthood) with learning disabilities that have complex health and social care needs. The main principle and objectives of the team are to ensure that care and support needs are met by providing person centred assessment and intervention under the Care Act 2014.

The Adult Learning Disability team is a community based integrated team consisting of social workers, learning disability nurses, community team assistants, carer's support worker and administrative staff

What do we do?

We provide a specialist service to adults who are 18 years old and over, who have care and support needs that are eligible under The Care Act 2014. Alongside this they must have a formal learning disabilities diagnosis, living in Bedford Borough. The team can offer advice and guidance with specialist health care needs.

For example:

  • epilepsy
  • mental health
  • complex physical needs
  • challenging behaviour
  • autism
  • dementia

And social care needs such as:

  • Direct Payments and personal budgets
  • Preparing for adulthood (transitions)
  • Day opportunities (college, vocational courses)
  • Employment opportunities
  • Accommodation
  • Help to live at home
  • Respite Care
  • Carer's assessment

The assessment, care management and specialist nursing support are the core work that is provided by the Adult Learning Disability Team. This is because we have a legal responsibility to carry out Community Care assessments under The Care Act 2014.

How do we do this?


Referrals to the team can be made by people who have a learning disability, their carers, other people who may be supporting you with your consent.

You will then be given a named Key Worker. The Key Worker who supports you could be a social worker, a community nurse or a community team assistant.


Your assessment is about you, and is completed together with the support of a team practitioner.

With your consent, we may also talk to other people who know you, or support you, including your doctor or nurse if you have one.

We will ask questions around the following areas:

  1. Manage food and eat well
  2. Manage personal hygiene
  3. Manage toilet needs
  4. Manage to dress yourself appropriately
  5. Be safe within my home
  6. Maintain my own home
  7. Be able to make friends and other relationships as well as see family
  8. Having a job, going to college or volunteering to work somewhere
  9. Using services in the community
  10. To be able to care for your children

We will endeavour to complete your assessment within 28 days but if your situation is urgent we would complete your assessment a lot sooner. There may be circumstances where this period is extended if we need to gather further information about your medical conditions or your circumstances.

Your support plan

Once your needs have been assessed with you and identified as eligible for support under the Care Act 2014 we will:

  • We will discuss and agree your needs with you.
  • We will help you plan to meet your health and social care needs.
  • We may refer you to other people / services with your consent..
  • We will write the care plan with you and give you a copy
  • The care plan will tell you what is going to happen and when and who will be doing it.
  • We will set a date when we can review the care plan. The Team will carry out what was agreed in the care plan.
  • They will make sure that other people named in the care plan will carry out what they have agreed.


  • We will meet you to see if you have been happy with the support you have received.
  • We will look to see if anything else needs changing.
  • The care plan will either be updated or we agree that our work will be finished.
  • Your support plan will continue to be reviewed every year by the Review Team, to ensure the support you receive is right for you.


  • When our work has finished we will tell you.
  • We will also tell other people who know you.
  • We will make sure that you know how to contact the team if you need us in the future.

The Adult Learning Disability Team may contact the following agencies to support you:

  • Specialist clinical services for people with learning disabilities including speech and language therapy, sensory, psychology and occupational therapy
  • Housing Associations and Landlords
  • Education, schools and colleges of further education.
  • Children social care and adult social care eg; physical disabilities team or older person service.
  • Employment services and agencies
  • Legal service and Citizen Advice Bureau
  • Mental health services
  • Clinical commissioning groups, GPs, District Nurses
  • Police and probation services
  • Department of Work and Pensions
  • Advocacy services
  • Registered care providers
  • Day service providers
  • Supported living providers
  • Care Quality Commission
  • Leisure service providers
  • Voluntary organisation
  • Carers in Bedfordshire

Are you a carer for someone with a Learning Disability?

A carer has personal experience of caring for someone with a learning disability who is usually a family member, but may also be a friend. A carer is a person who is not paid to have a personal, continuous relationship with a family member who has a learning disability. The person a carer supports may live at home with them, or live elsewhere.

Carers’ Assessments – a way to access the support you may need

As a carer you may provide support with many things including personal care, helping someone to get out and about, emotional support, support with money matters and advocacy.

Caring for someone may affect parts of your everyday life, for example, your health and emotional wellbeing, your ability to access to training and work or the time you have to yourself.

If caring for someone is having an impact, you may want to consider having a Carers' Assessment. This is an opportunity for you to talk about your caring role and what needs you may have so you can get the right sort of help to assist you.

If you would like further information about support for you, or would like to find out if you can have a carers' assessment, please contact the Adult Learning Disability Team.