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“Mostly a 10, but sometimes zero” – the wellbeing of people with learning disabilities

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The Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities (SCLD) is delighted to launch the second in our series of reports exploring the results of the 2019 “How’s Life?” national survey of people with learning disabilities in Scotland, “Mostly a 10, but sometimes a zero”: Exploring the wellbeing of people with learning disabilities in Scotland.

In 2019, SCLD developed a survey with a range of partners to ask as many people with learning disabilities as much as possible about how they felt about different aspects of their lives. A total of 1232 responses were received, making this the first large scale survey of people with learning disabilities conducted in Scotland for over ten years.  

SCLD developed the “How’s life?” Survey with a range of partners including: ENABLE Scotland, Key, ARC Scotland, People First Scotland, Down’s Syndrome Scotland and PAMIS. The survey was designed to be completed by people with learning disabilities, with or without support from a family member, advocate, or paid supporter. A total of 1232 responses were received.  

The survey revealed that on the whole people were satisfied with their lives, with an average rating of 8.13 out of 10. However,  SCLD was able to identify a number of concerning factors that related to life satisfaction, in particular that people with an additional disability or health condition tended to report lower levels of life satisfaction, and people who felt lonely were more likely to report lower levels of life satisfaction.

These findings suggest that much more needs to be done to reduce the health inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities; our report recommends improving data collection, in particular data collected by GP systems, to gather a clearer picture of the particular health challenges faced by people with learning disabilities. Our report also found disparities in the experiences of people with learning disabilities when it came to social connectedness and access to relationships and local communities that many of us take for granted. We believe the right support and proper inclusion of people with learning disabilities in forming relationships and to take part in their local communities is key to the Scottish Government’s priority of building a ‘Wellbeing Economy‘.

SCLD’s Chief Executive Charlie McMillan said: “[W]e have called for action to address these inequalities, particularly in the provision of health and social care. As part of the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, we must do much more to remove the barriers for people with learning disabilities to realise their human rights and become fully involved in their communities.

You can read all our recommendations, along with the full report below:

“Mostly a 10, but sometimes a zero”: Exploring the wellbeing of people with learning disabilities in Scotland

Easy Read Executive Summary

We have hard copies available of our Easy Read summary of the report. To order please email admin@scld.co.uk or call 0141 248 3733.