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An evaluation of the Mencap family adviser service in northern Ireland

For over three years, Mencap (Nl) has provided and largely funded an ‘Information and Advice Service’ aimed primarily at family carers and people with learning disabilities. The service employs four advisers who cover most of Northern Ireland, offering telephone but also face-to-face contact with enquirers. They have access to a specially developed, computerized database that contains details of local as well as national resources. This paper describes the service and the evaluation process used. Information was obtained from four stakeholder groups, namely service-users; service-funders; the leaders of learning disability teams in Health and Social Services (HSS) Trusts and the chairpersons of Mencap local societies. The features of a good information and advice service are noted, along with the developments required to the existing service. In the main these relate to improved partnership working with statutory agencies and increasing the profile of the service with services, family carers and people with learning disabilities. The lessons learnt in Northern Ireland could usefully inform the development of similar services that are proposed for the Irish Republic, Scotland, England and Wales.

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Child Care in Practice

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Social care online
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