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

Messages from 'Having a good day' - Partnerships with people and families

What research tells us

People who use services, including families as indirect users, need to be central to the process of modernisation.

What's happening in practice at the moment

Pointers for development

Key messages about developing partnerships with families

  • Involve parents in planning for their own son or daughter.
  • Start young.
  • Develop services that work closely with families. This will happen more naturally if supporters work with people directly from home.
  • Develop participation structures that value and make use of parental energy and expertise.

A carer's comment on direct payments

We as carers will need to understand that our roles will change. I as a family carer supporting an adult with learning difficulties/autism have taken on board the need to change and can now say with pride that the person I help to support has a lifestyle you can be proud of, and all this because of a direct payment. And I as the carer can now say I have my own life back and we are both happy with this.

From: FPLD Choice Forum (Jan 2007)

Practice examples

Grapevine in Coventry, a voluntary sector provider, has people with learning disabilities occupying 50 per cent of the places on its board. It supports people to 'develop, lead and organise their own projects and activities' and aims to encourage mutual support. There is a campaigns team, a health promotion team, and D:vine - a group of young learning disabled people who run nightclub nights.

As part of the Eastern Region Partners in Policymaking consortium, Essex provides courses for people with learning disabilities and family members to develop as leaders. These were originally run for several years Family Leadership courses commissioned by the council and led by an independent agency, but now things have evolved as they have become part of the consortium.

The policy is having a real impact. More and more families are demanding ordinary opportunities for their sons and daughters. The transition coordinator says: 'I've seen it personally in my work around transition, with families wanting to know where employment support will come from rather than asking about day centres. The courses really help in moving towards ordinary lives. It's a slow trickle, but it's creating waves. The more parents and family members who go on the courses the better!'

Links and resources

Person-centred planning