Introduction to the 1990s

In Britain, the nineties began with the resignation of Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minster since 1979. The conservatives remained in power with John Major as Prime Minister until 1997, when Labour’s Tony Blair won the general election.

On the social care front, the process of closing the large long-stay hospitals, which had started to gain momentum in the seventies, continued. The National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990, introduced a mixed market with competing providers. Local authorities became commissioners of private and not for profit organisations, rather than providing services directly. Services continued to be influenced by normalisation[i] and social role valorisation[ii], which emphasised the importance of integration, and valued social roles. There was a shift from purpose built large hostels, housing 30 or more people, to smaller group homes for between 2 and 6 people, often in ordinary houses in ordinary streets. Adult Training Centres (ATCs), with their emphasis on work, were gradually being replaced by Social Education Centres, whose purpose was more to encourage independent living skills, and to provide leisure and social activities, albeit frequently in the same large congregate settings that had characterized ATCs.

[i] Normalisation was the idea that people with learning disabilities should have the right to experience the same patterns and conditions of life as everyone else.

[ii] Social role valorisation was the idea that disabled people must be given opportunities to play social roles that are valued by society as a way to overcome the stigma they experienced

There was an increase in the number of self-advocacy groups, and moves to create an English National People First[*], which foundered due to rivalries between local groups. Government began to take an interest in consulting with self-advocates, paving the way for increased funding and the National Forum[†] in the early 2000s.

After the great expansion of the eighties, MacIntyre faced a period of financial challenge that required organisational re-structure. Bill Mumford became the third Managing Director in 30 years and remained in position for 20 years until 2015. As social care evolved to creating greater integration not separation of people with a learning disability in society, the ideal of a self-sufficient secluded village for people with learning disabilities represented at Westoning was no longer relevant and the Manor closed. It was replaced by smaller units, more in keeping with current thinking. For Maclntyre, community care meant not only living in the community but participating in it, using local facilities and, wherever possible, making a contribution to others.[*] People First is an organization run by people with learning disabilities to defend the rights of people with learning disabilities.[†] The National Forum of people with learning disabilities works closely with the Government, giving independent advice and speaking up for disabled people.


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