Community-based day activities and supports for people with learning disabilities


Briefing for local advocacy groups and self-advocates

This easy read version of 'How can you help people have better days?' is avalable as a PDF below:

Briefing for local politicians and board members


This briefing contains information and suggestions about things that you could do to help ensure that good community-based daytime opportunities and support are achieved for people with learning disabilities in your local area. It has been designed as a quick read using short bullet points.

What is 'a good day’?

In national policy, people are described as having 'a good day’’ when they are:

Why is an ordinary community life is important?

Including people with high support needs

How you can help

As a councillor or board member there are a number of issues that may come your way in relation to 'day service modernisation’ or developing community-based daytime opportunities and support for people with learning disabilities. Four of the most important things to consider are highlighted below:

What people with learning disabilities want to do

Each person is different, so look for changes and developments that are based on individualised, person-centred planning that shows what each person wants and the support they need. People who have communication difficulties should have plans that have been developed with the involvement of people who know them really well.

What can be done to help families accept change

'Day service modernisation’ can be frightening for families. They have genuine concerns about how safe their relative will be in community places, how reliable the support will be if staff are community-based, and whether they themselves will get the same level of respite from caring that traditional day services have provided.

So, make sure that services are agreeing support plans with people’s families, and that the plans include contingency and risk management arrangements. Consider making a commitment to families that the hours of respite they receive will not be reduced without their prior agreement.

Don’t, though, pull back from implementing change. Day services need to be modernised. People with learning disabilities need to take their rightful place alongside everyone else as community members.

Managing and resourcing community-based developments

Building community-based opportunities and support services is hard to do while continuing to run centre-based day services. There are two options:

Whichever approach is taken, additional resources will be required - at the very least to support development work with community facilities, training staff for new community roles, individual person-centred planning, and to develop transport options.

Community-based day supports will become more cost-effective over time as people develop greater independence and use the natural support resources of the community, but the development period needs to be adequately resourced to achieve the longer term benefits. Of particular concern are the number of community-based day and employment projects with short-term funding. If they exist in your local area, consider what can be done so that they secure a sustainable funding base and can build for the future.

Buildings and infrastructure

One of the most important things you can do is support your commissioners and managers to develop community support services that do not use buildings run by learning disability or social care services. If people need places to meet encourage services to book rooms in ordinary community facilities. Help them to build partnerships with mainstream community providers - you probably have a wealth of local contacts and links, but you could also help those mainstream community providers to consider what they need to do to serve all members of the community - which includes people with learning disabilities whatever level of support they might need.

An accessible transport network is an important consideration, and facilities for personal care (changing places). The national Changing Places website has information on developing appropriate facilities for people with profound and multiple disabilities (see The Disability Equality Duties might provide helpful leverage for change.

Perhaps it could prove helpful if your council or organisation adopted the social model of disability as a framework to guide operations. There is more information on all these suggestions in the guide.