Community-based day activities and supports for people with learning disabilities
Introduction - Turning policy into reality
In this section:
As recently as 2005, a national survey of people with learning disabilities found that 39% of all people with a learning disability were attending a day centre, of whom two-fifths were attending five days a week (Emerson et al 2005). It also found that one in six had a paid job compared with two thirds of men and half of women in the general working age population. Two thirds of the people who were unemployed and able to work said they wanted a job, but the range of jobs likely to be attained are narrow, with a pattern of low hours and low wages. Mencap has estimated that 20,000 people have no form of support or provision at all for structured activities outside of the home during the day (Mencap 2002).Having a good day Knowledge Review Summary 2006
This guide is about the challenge of turning national policy into practical reality. It aims to give information from the current knowledge base, pointers to good practice, and ideas to take forward into your own work.
Essentially this guide is about what services and individuals can do to help people with learning disabilities to 'have a good day'.
In national policy, people are described as 'having a good day' when they are:
- doing things that have a purpose and are meaningful for them
- doing things in ordinary places, that most members of the community would be doing
- doing things that are uniquely right for them, with support that meets their individual and specific requirements
- meeting local people, developing friendships and connections and building a sense of belonging.
Which of these do you do?
- working to earn money
- learning, by attending classes or going on training
- volunteering or helping others
- doing leisure activities and hobbies that you enjoy
- socialising with friends
- enjoying the company of a loving partner
- caring for children
- following religious activities
- looking after your home
- gathering information
- travelling around from place to place.
Do you do different things in the evenings and at weekends than you do in the day from Monday to Friday? Do you go from your home to a range of different places to do things, and do you encounter many different people in the course of a week?
And what about people with learning disabilities locally? Do their lives look similar and follow similar patterns to local people of the same age? No? Then this guide may help you to bridge that gap.
Helping people with learning disabilities to achieve such 'ordinary' daily lives has been national policy for more than 30 years, and significant progress has been made. But there's much more to do. Now, in 2007, many, many people still have a pattern of life that revolves around:
- using a day service operating from a building specifically for people with learning disabilities from Monday to Friday
- being in groups all day with other people who have learning disabilities
- doing a small number of activities based on going out to community facilities (but which may be fairly irregular)
- doing things that are about what the service can offer
- being transported on service vehicles in large groups
- being at home with parents most evenings and at weekends.
There is no one way to achieve improved community services and support so that people get to 'have a good day'. Development is affected by the local needs profile and the social, political, economic, geographical and demographic context. Developments have to fit the local area. To get the best from this guide you will need to think about how the lessons within it can be tailored to your local context, with all the constraints and opportunities you encounter.