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Caring for an older family member with learning disabilities
Caring for an older family member with learning disabilities

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3.1 Being assertive

Family carers of people with learning disabilities have often advocated for their family member from an early age, across childhood and into adulthood. You may feel that being assertive is harder as you get older. Take a few minutes to think about some of the ways in which you can assert yourself.

Activity 3 Making yourself assertive

Timing: Allow 10 minutes

Here is Gail, our family carer panel member and advocate for other families, talking about what helps her to be assertive when advocating for her son. Make some notes if you wish.

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Gail suggests finding other parents in the same situation by joining family carers organisations and parents/peer groups in your area. These can give you a forum to share your concerns, learn from others, establish useful connections, and help you to have a collective voice with other parents. She specifically mentions contacting learning disability support services. Other advice she gives is around learning about the law and your legal rights. This could include doing some further learning about health and social care, the law and your rights, for example.

Taking such steps are in turn empowering. Carers UK have produced a very useful guide: Being Heard: a self-advocacy guide for carers [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . This includes advice on how to communicate well, negotiating, getting better at being assertive and making a complaint. Carers Trust also have a page on their website about advocacy and getting help with complaints.

Here are a few examples of your rights and when you are entitled to be assertive that may also help:

  • You are entitled to speak to a social worker and request help with your future planning. Persistence often pays off!
  • When you or the person for whom you care has an assessment, make sure the assessor listens – they should listen to the person they are assessing to know what they want and need.
  • You can object if you do not feel what your family member has been offered is suitable. You need to have clear reasons why it is not good enough. Be specific. e.g. living in a city is unsuitable as your relative grew up in the countryside and is not used to city life. Find other services that are better and explain why.