This paper explores the impact of policy changes and budget cuts on the service and support landscape faced by people with learning disabilities. Drawing upon collaborative research in England and Scotland and interviews with commissioners and support organisations we show how landscapes of care and support are unstable and fragmented. We identify how pressures of time, resource and precaritisation in the workforce are creating ‘debilitating landscapes of care’ that further erode the capacities of both the people that work in the sector and people with learning disabilities. Some of the specific challenges that people with learning disabilities face in this context include; finding appropriate local support, narrowing access as a result of reductions in benefit entitlements and identifying quality providers amid an increasingly complex array of private and charitable provision. Capacity to cope with these challenges is contingent on access to quality advocacy, supportive family, friendships and peer support, but these are not always available. Organisations that offer a positive future include social enterprises that provide productive occupational environments, support people to learn and develop, encourage peer support and enable high quality advocacy. However, the impact of Covid19 has only served to intensify some of the issues we identify and the urgent need for a response. Our analysis is inspired by Berlant’s (2007) conception of ‘slow-death’ and Puar’s (2017) associated conceptualisation of ‘debility’.


© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MacPherson, H., Hall, E., Power, A. & Kaley, A. 2021, 'Debilitating landscapes of care and support: envisaging alternative futures', Social and Cultural Geography. https://doi.org/10.1080/14649365.2021.1922736

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Last updated: 03 September 2022
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