Community-based day activities and supports for people with learning disabilities
Introduction - Background
In 2005 SCIE commissioned a team from the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities (FPLD) and Norah Fry Research Centre (NFRC) to carry out a knowledge review about community-based day activities for people with learning disabilities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Having a good day knowledge review (2007) drew out key themes and issues from research and practice relating to what has, and has not, contributed to successful provision of community-based day activities for people with learning disabilities (see Messages from Having a good day).
'Community-based day activities' were taken to include employment, adult learning and further education, and leisure activities undertaken away from a person's home. Opportunities and support provided by specialist and mainstream statutory services, independent and voluntary organisations were all included, as were community-based projects supported by staff from day centres.
This guide draws on the findings from 'Having a good day', with some additional information and ideas that have been gathered since the original work took place. There are a lot of practice examples in 'Having a good day' - some have been repeated in this guide, but by no means all. It is a useful source of information and ideas to accompany this guide.
The report from the Having a good day knowledge review is available on the SCIE website: There are also links to the reports from the FPLD and NFRC websites. An easy read summary: 'Having a good day - People's stories', designed for self-advocacy groups and people with learning disabilities, is also available to download from the websites.
The Valuing People website has a lot of useful information and many helpful links, especially its Being Included section.
The Choice Forum - an interactive discussion site. Good for posting queries and networking.
The 'Having a good day' research provides much of the evidence-base for this guide. It is important to acknowledge, though, that the research did not uncover overwhelming numbers of best practice examples from around the UK. This reflects the current situation: day services are still working on modernisation plans and even the most advanced and innovative community-oriented day services are still trying to overcome the legacy of traditional service structures and to build new community opportunities and infrastructure.
Many of the best examples of people being supported to lead community-based daily lives come from beyond day services - emerging from support services that take a whole-life approach based on good person-centred planning. Such services organically pursue the things that people want to do and achieve in their lives, directly from home. People stay at home to do things as it suits them, because it is their home. The focus of 'Having a good day', however, was primarily on how organised day services have evolved to provide community opportunities and support, and how they have overcome and are still overcoming challenges along the way.
There are many more examples of best practice in person-centred community support beyond this guide, particularly in the literature on supported living, direct payments and, now, from the In Control and Individual Budget pilot projects. The evidence is that the spread of individualised approaches that give control to more people will be dependent upon, and will require continuing change, in day services. What day services are doing matters, not least to the thousands of people who are being supported by them each day.
We encourage readers to think broadly - beyond service boundaries. Seek out examples of practice from across the spectrum of support services which successfully enable people to lead ordinary daily lives of their choosing in their communities. Learn from it all!