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Adults with learning disabilities

‘Learning disabilities’ (LD) is a poorly defined term. Its meaning differs depending on the context (such as in education or medical settings) and interpretations also vary between different professionals and lay people. Overall, it can be considered an umbrella term that covers a range of neurological disorders in learning with varying degrees of severity that lead to varying degrees of impairment in social, intellectual and practical skills.  It is recognised that people with LD can also have specific health needs. Some people with LD live independently without much support, but others may require 24-hour care and help with performing most daily living tasks. 

People with learning disabilities: key points

Just under 900 adults (aged 18+) were registered as having a learning disability at GP practices in Herefordshire in 2015/16.  This represents a prevalence of 0.6 per cent of the adult population, which is significantly higher than in England and the West Midlands (both 0.5 per cent).  The majority (59 per cent) are men, and are aged 25 to 54 (63 per cent).

The number has increased by 10 per cent since 2009/10 (around 80 people), notably less than nationally (20 per cent) and regionally (18 per cent).  There is not expected to be any notable change in the total number of registered adults with an LD by 2035, but those who are will have a much older age profile than currently – and likely more complex needs related to their age.

Modelled estimates suggest that GP registers reflect less than a quarter of all adults with LD and that the true number in Herefordshire is likely to be around 3,600 people (2.3 per cent of the adult population).  This is predicted to increase by around 300 (eight per cent) by 2035 - although again disproportionately in the number aged 65+.

Herefordshire Council prvides long-term social care support to around 600 adults because of a learning disability - nine per cent more than in 2009/10.


They are mainly aged 18-64. There are 36 establishments across Herefordshire providing residential accommodation for adults with LD.  Currently, around 150 people with LD are provided with day opportunities at seven locations across the county.



Related resources

  • Herefordshire Adults Learning Disabilities Needs Assessment, February 2018Herefordshire Adults Learning Disabilities Needs Assessment, February 2018
  • This Adult Learning Disability Integrated Needs Assessment was commissioned by Herefordshire Council to provide an overview of health and wellbeing issues affecting adults with learning disabilities living in Herefordshire and to outline levels of care and services currently provided. This document will inform the Learning Disability Strategy.
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Last updated: Thursday, May 31, 2018