Community-based day activities and supports for people with learning disabilities
Messages from 'Having a good day' - Good transition planning
Person-centred transition planning, backed up with assistance to access work, housing and support via individualised funding, helps young people to achieve more ordinary lives so that they do not require day services. Employment support is needed for people who do not meet eligibility criteria for local authority services but who are vulnerable if unoccupied during the day.
- The transition process still needs significant improvement, and local strategies are being developed. Effective strategies are ones that are owned by children's services, Connexions, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), adult services, health services, schools and others. They are built on partnership. It helps if there is a development post that operates across all of the partners.
- Employment support is patchy for young people with additional or complex needs, and few get jobs directly from school or college
- Local colleges offer little to young people with higher support needs and there are still many who leave their local area, family and friends to go away to residential college, funded by the LSC.
- Eastern Region Learning and Skills Council's Improving Choice projects are demonstrating how LSC funding can be used more flexibly to develop better local learning opportunities and support for young people. They are showing some positive ways forward. see Links and resources.
- Find out from the local authority schools service which organisation is providing work experience placements in your local schools, and open up a dialogue with them. Aim to agree a plan that builds a comprehensive network of employment support.
- If employment is to become a reality for more people with learning disabilities then you must start young. We know that day services are not effective at moving significant numbers of people into work, so it has to happen beforehand. Investing in employment support will ultimately save money in the longer term.
- Find out about the 'extended schools' agenda and Youth Opportunities funding locally, and consider the opportunities they might present.
- Work with the local LSC on their Improving Choice and 14-19 planning agendas to develop local learning opportunities that incorporate the support people need.
- Consider developing some supported employment provision targeted to people with autistic spectrum disorder, including Asperger syndrome, and develop a training programme to help agencies recognise when and what additional support might be required. Make sure your area has a strategic commissioning plan that addresses the needs of young people who may slip through the net of existing provision.
From: 'Improving work opportunities for people with learning disabilities' (2006)
- Employment must feature highly within the school Year 9 review.
- The transition planning process should start early and be linked to active Connexions personal adviser involvement.
- There needs to be a person-centred approach to transition planning.
- Work experience opportunities are essential for young people with learning disabilities, with the appropriate transport provision and support.
- Connexions needs to track all young people up to the age of 25, not just those in education .
- The importance of employment needs to be recognised, and planning for employment needs to start at school. Moving from education into employment could have a dramatic and long-lasting effect on the life experiences of people with learning disabilities.
'We have been part of the In Control pilot in Wigan to enable our eldest child Joe to get a better life and do more of the things 16-year-old lads like to do. Joe is an active young man who really enjoys lots of physical and robust types of activity. He finds staying in the house really difficult and likes to spend his time out and about. Joe isn't a young person who 'fits into' services but rather would like to design his own life with the people he chooses, at a time to suit him. Joe also would like to access education in a way that enables him to be supported by people who know him well.
'Through In Control we are designing his life in a way to suit him and in a way that supports him really well, from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night. Joe has started to recruit his staff and already is experiencing life changes. For the first time ever he is able to go out in the evenings and at weekends and do the things he wants to do. He goes to a gym, goes swimming and out for some long walks in the lakes and Rivington. In fact he has slept through the night for the first time in six months, his self-injurious behaviour is greatly reduced and we are able to start to wean him away from self-stimulating. I have always said that Joe needs lots of physical activity and by doing this means that his so-called "challenging behaviour" is greatly reduced.
'He has a team of four staff who work with him on a 2:1 basis. They are of varying ages, male and female (he has one man of the same age) and are predominantly from a youth service background. In the future Joe is going to have one consistent team that supports him through his educational day as well as his social and leisure life. Joe is currently educated out of the borough at a phenomenal cost. We want to use this funding far more efficiently by transferring his educational resource allocation into the whole pot managed by us, enabling him to go to a local college, get a part-time job through his own 'micro enterprise' and meet lots of new friends. The support will be managed through Joe's own trust which is supported by his family and circle of friends. The trust will be the employer and will assist Joe in recruiting staff, ongoing supervision and payroll as well as supporting him to do his monthly plan. This will be in partnership with the local authority that will ensure his plan meets all his educational needs as well as his social care assessed needs and will be reviewed at regular intervals.
As Joe gets older the trust will look at ways of Joe purchasing his own home and extending the staff team to support him there. This will mean his transition will be a progression for life rather than a big leap that has been forced upon him. Watch this space for exciting times ahead.'
From: ' In Control - person-centred approaches in action', Martin Routledge, Caroline Tomlinson, Simon Duffy, Helen Sanderson, Carl Poll, Julie Stansfield, Karen Flood and Julie Casey (members of the In Control national project group) in 'Living well', 5.l (April 2005), Pavilion Publishing
The Learning and Skills Council in Greater Manchester has worked with Trafford Local Authority, Community Learning Trafford, Future Visions, the local learning disability partnership, and Nextstep to develop and deliver a pilot business preparation course for adults with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, leading to establishment of a self-sustaining organisation led by adults with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. The resulting organisation will provide awareness training on learning difficulties and/or disabilities.
From 'Learning for living and work: improving education and training opportunities for people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities', LSC (Oct 2006)
The Orchardville Society in Belfast ensures that young people aged 16-19 are regularly offered three work placements while still at school. This enables them to make an informed choice. One parent explained the advantages: ' He could make up his mind at age 19 - what is it you want to do? He found the office totally boring and didn't want to work there, and he chose the coffee shop. The parent had actually preferred the 'set up' in the office work, but she accepted his choice since he had tried the alternatives.
There is a huge amount of information around about improving transition.
- Most of the 11 regional SEN partnerships have workstreams to do with transition, which are a good source of information. To find your local one go to EastTOGETHER website.
- To sign up to the Interconnections Electronic bulletin: Children with disabilities/SEN, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Look out on the Paradigm website for future findings from the Dynamite project and the Eastern Region Improving Choice Dynamite project - both looking at individualised funding for young people in transition.
- Jim's and Kelly's stories in 'Improving choice in post 16 education for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities', M. Palmer. LSC (June 2006)
- Matt's story on the Transition Information Network website
- Learning and stories from the Valuing People person-centred transition review programme