Keys to life: implementation framework and priorities 2019-2021

New framework to implement the 'Keys to life' learning disability strategy.

Our approach

The central ambition in The keys to life to tackle health inequalities – in access to healthcare and life expectancy remains critical. Social care will continue to play an important role in the lives of many people with learning disabilities.

However, unlocking futures and enabling people with learning disabilities to realise their full potential is about more than that. The vast majority of people with learning disabilities now live in the community and want to play their full part in it. Young people with learning disabilities today have vastly different expectations than they did just a generation ago.

Our refreshed approach acknowledges these changes and challenges. It will take a whole system, whole population and whole person approach.

Whole system

Our approach stretches across local and national Government, the third and private sectors. Within Government we are working hard to ensure that the needs of people with learning disabilities are discussed across a wide range of Scottish Government policies and are properly embedded in some of our key strategies:

Within health and social care, the Scottish Government’s 2020 Vision emphasises integrated care and prevention, anticipation and supported self-management;  the Health and Social Care Delivery Plan reinforces the equal importance of mental and physical health. We are tackling loneliness caused by social isolation, which can significantly affect mental wellbeing. We recognise people with learning disabilities within our approach to Getting it Right for Every Child, Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and Developing the Young Workforce. Children and young people with a learning disability have a right to have the same opportunities to succeed as anyone else and we are working with colleagues to recognise and address barriers in education and employment. This means consistent support through additional support for learning, closing the attainment gap and ensuring there are positive choices available for young people to progress to further education and employment.

Whole population

Our approach is about the whole life journey from childhood to older age and addresses key elements of that journey from health and social care support to education, housing and employment – and beyond.

Whole person

Our approach is about the whole person, recognising the capabilities and talents of people with learning disabilities as well as the challenges they face. We also understand how important relationships and communication are for the wellbeing of people with learning disabilities, both personal and professional.

A rights based approach

Human rights belong to everybody and our approach continues to be rooted in recognising those rights and embedding them at the heart of everything we do. We are committed to meeting our international obligations in full, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We take a human rights approach and our policies are grounded in the principles of Participation, Accountability, Non- discrimination, Empowerment and Legality.

A Fairer Scotland

The Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework commits us to being a society that treats all of our people with kindness, dignity

and compassion and to working with local government to deliver a fairer Scotland. The 11 National Outcomes include an explicit human rights outcome: “We respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination”.


We will continue to work with our strategic partners, the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability and the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory and with a wide range of delivery partners across the third, public and private sectors, including Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs).



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