Community-based day activities and supports for people with learning disabilities
10 key tasks - Key task 9: Creating opportunities for all
- Create services for people with high support needs that focus on ordinary life opportunities. Segregated buildings, even if they do have state-of-the-art equipment, are not the answer. Developing the community infrastructure is essential: community changing facilities, better transport, accessible public spaces, relevant college courses, and so on. But it has to be accompanied by support provided by people with the right skills and approach to achieve community inclusion. That is what this whole guide is about - in relation to all people with learning disabilities - and there is information throughout that should help you on that journey.
- Create a firm, funded plan that says how your area will create equal opportunities for people with multiple and complex disabilities so that they can access ordinary opportunities and community life. Make it a priority. There is a need to target more resources to those with higher needs to achieve community inclusion: work out how you will do it.
- Talk with an open mind to other commissioners and managers who are successfully providing non-buildings-based services to people with complex needs. Find out how they are making it work.
- Train staff so that they have the knowledge and skills they need to provide excellent support and personal care to people who depend on them to get it right. In the midst of innovation and modernisation, look after the basics - the quality of intimate care and interaction between support staff and the people they are supporting. Families will not trust service changes if you are not managing to get the basics right. Develop trust through good quality, safe (but not risk-averse) practice.
- There are other suggestions and resources on getting it right for people with higher support needs integrated throughout this guidance. In particular, read the Key Ingredients sections on Personalised planning with people and Individualised funding and Key Task 4: Building support around people.
- Consider the example set by Mencap Northern Ireland in creating an equalities officer post. Could your council create a similar post as part of its equalities team?
- Opportunities for all has to mean the opportunity for family carers to lead an ordinary life too. Plans to 'modernise’ and develop community services will not proceed very smoothly if attention has not been paid to carers’ needs. The checklist for family carers [link to grey below] highlights helpful things that services can do, but also see Partnerships with people and families.
- Make sure that the carers grant is contributing to modernisation plans, whether specifically to fund individual support for people or to develop group and service initiatives.
- Know the ethnic mix of your local population and identify which specific communities are not accessing daytime services or support. Then do something about it! There are some ideas in the minority ethnic communities checklist. [link to grey below]
- Ensure that contracts with providers of community support, community day services and employment support specifically require agencies to demonstrate how they are equipping their staff to meet the diversecultural and faith needs of the local population. Why not bring agencies together to develop a shared training and development plan for the combined workforce?
- Build diverse opportunities for diverse people. Consider the needs of older people and ensure that local opportunities are pursued that suit people of different ages. Think about the potentially different interests and leisure pursuits that men and women may enjoy. Make sure people have choices. Develop staff so that they naturally consider age and gender in their planning with people.
Ingredients for success:
- a belief that it is possible and positive, and that people have the right to be using community facilities
- a person-centred approach to planning, with a detailed support profile
- Good one-to-one support, with contingency plans and effective risk management
- partnership and agreements with families
- staying as local as possible to build neighbourhood connections and reduce travelling
- using mobility benefits creatively for vehicle ownership, and working with transport managers to improve accessible transport locally
- community development work to identify or create the personal care facilities that are needed, and ensure facilities are accessible and welcoming.
The opportunity for family carers to lead an ordinary life
How are you doing locally on:
- involving family carers in planning for their loved one, and empowering them to take a lead role if their relative does not have personal capacity?
- building good support structures for direct payments and individual budgets so that family carers do not find them a problem?
- good management and effective systems that ensure people get consistent community support workers?
- not reducing the amountof respite a carer gets through the day unless with their agreement?
- contingency planning to ensure reliability of support?
- risk management plans that operate with carers’ agreement?
- transparent monitoring of community support?
- creating an open, responsive culture where staff regard families as partners?
Opening up opportunities for people from minority ethnic communities
- considered targeted campaigns to promote direct payments in those communities? Direct payments enable people to recruit support workers from within their community if culture or faith make that an important requirement.
- used face-to-face methods to disseminate information and engage people in discussion? Paying mothers of young people to spread information within their community can help.
- built partnerships with neighbouring local authorities to develop tailored services that respond to cultural and faith requirements where local demand is likely to be small?
- ensured that there are some single-sex, especially women-only opportunities being provided by community facilities in your area, and by community day services?
- Mencap in Northern Ireland has a learning disabilities equalities officer post that is currently filled by two people with learning disabilities. They provide invaluable insights about their own experiences, helping other people to make informed choices about supported employment, and helping employers to work more effectively with people with learning disabilities.
- Questions for people looking at modernising day opportunities and Questions for the group looking at jobs. See Valuing People website.
- Sheffield, Day opportunities for Pakistani Adults by J. Harrap and J Hobson.
- 'Meet the People' (2006) is an interactive CD from Mencap aimed at increasing understanding of what it means to have profound and multiple learning disabilities. It challenges you to take action to enable people to be seen, be heard, be valued, be included, be supported and be equal.
- National Autistic Society autism alert card in a range of languages,
- Multi-kulti is a website providing information, advice and learning materials in community languages.
- 'Life begins at 60: developing a retirement planning process for people nearing retirement age', C. Sweeney, J. Harvey, M. Green, B. Wilkinson and A. Peel, 'Living Well’, 13.2 (June 2003),
- 'The Asian Women’s Day Service', A. Parmessur, 'Learning Disability Today’ 6.4 (Dec 2006),