Community-based day activities and supports for people with learning disabilities
10 key tasks - Key task 6: Achieving inclusion in community life
- Take a few minutes to reflect on what you believe about people with learning disabilities and inclusion. Do you believe that it’s not a good thing for some people? Do you think that it won’t work for everyone? Think about whether your beliefs are shaping the opportunities and support that you are arranging for people? Are you one of the barriers to their inclusion? Possibly? Then do something about it! Start by having a look at the Foundations stones section on Rights and inclusion.
- If you are organising a group activity use the Checklist for community activities (17kb PDF file) to help you focus your efforts. To make it more likely that people will build connections and achieve inclusion you should be able to answer yes to each question.
- Try to link people up with someone in the community who is well connected and willing to help them meet other people and build a network of friends and acquaintances using their contacts - a community guide or connector. A description of one approach to this idea can be downloaded free from the ABCD Institute (see Links and resources).
- You could also use the Inclusion Traffic Lights developed by the National Development Team (see Links and resources). Read 'Accidents at the inclusion traffic lights: mistakes and misunderstandings in supporting people to achieve social inclusion’ by Peter Bates. It’s really good for helping you reflect on what you’re doing in your day-to-day practice.
- Support people to make a contribution and take on valued roles. Think about the kind of things that people like in their local community: cleanliness, access to information, help with things they can’t manage, safety, community events to go to, entertainment, access to take-away food, childcare, holiday pet feeders and so on. See Key task 2: Changing the model to community life for examples of things that Pure Innovations in Stockport are supporting people to do.
- Support people into local jobs, whether through employment or self-employment (micro-enterprise) or by developing social firms. This is a good route to inclusion. See Key Task 7: Supporting people into paid work for more guidance.
- Help people to understand volunteering as an option, but only support them into voluntary roles if they really do want to help or it’s as a strictly time-limited stepping stone towards a paid job.
- Make sure that you have worked out in advance how you will address someone’s challenging behaviour in community settings, and that it is agreed with their family and your manager. Base the plan on what works for the individual - make it person-centred. Aim to intervene early so that connections being developed with other people are not damaged.
- Prepare and plan well for community support. Think about risks, and plan what you will do to minimise them. Have contingency plans, and agreed back-up in case you need it. There is more on this, and some useful resources, in Key Task 8: Helping people learn and develop.
- Find out about people’s culture and faith. Don’t assume - do some research and then ask the family what is important to them. Listen and respect. It may be helpful to find someone within that ethnic community who can help the person to build connections.
- Why not help individuals to create some 'awareness’ cards that they can give to people who cause them offence. It’s better to support them to do it rather than you - people may take more notice.
- Start young: give young people 'in transition’ and their parents information to help build the expectation of an ordinary life. Encourage them to go on leadership courses, like Partners in Policymaking, so that they can make things happen.
- Talk to people about getting work first, before even thinking about day services. For ideas about how to make it happen, see Key Task 7: Supporting people into paid work.
- Use individual specifications and contracts with day service providers and emphasise the goal of building community connections and inclusion. Set targets, and monitor progress. Don’t let people drift in segregated services!
- Make sure that you really do know about the cultural norms and faith requirements that a person from a minority ethnic community and their family may hold. Do you know enough to gain the confidence of the family? If you’re not sure, then do some homework. And make sure that any support you arrange is provided by workers who know enough too.
- Make sure that you read the local paper to pick up on opportunities for people, and try to read a practice magazine at least once a month. See Foundation stones: Breaking new ground for some that concentrate on community practice.
- With a busy job it helps to physically stop and think before doing. So, when you are about to write a care plan or contact a day service provider, stop and ask yourself: 'How will this help the person achieve inclusion?’ Then do something to try to make sure that it does.
A multi-pronged approach to building people’s connections and involvement
- Build circles of support around people.
- Do things consciously and deliberately - plan a course of action.
- Support people to be physically in the community
- …and then make sure it continues
- Know the community.
- Do things that benefit the whole community.
- Reflect, learn and change what you do.
- Stay local, regular and targeted.
- Support people to stay in touch.
- Help the public to open the door.
- Emphasise what people can contribute.
- Network, network, network.
From A. Cole and A. Lloyd (2002)
In Shropshire, the team in one shared community base set up a computer class and opened it up to local residents so that it became a mixed group.
The Body Balance Group at the SW Yorkshire Mental Health Trust provides individual and group exercise sessions to improve people’s fitness and health and, through that, their mental health. They use ordinary locations, like the local gym. Some people have gone on to use the gym on their own.
The day service for Asian women in Waltham Forest supports 16 women who enjoy a range of community-based activities using (mainly) community facilities around the borough. Some also attend an advocacy group for black and Asian women run by Powerhouse in Newham. Twelve women attend mainstream adult education classes, and three are supported in work experience. As part of their commitment to families the team agrees not to leave a woman alone in the company of men if that’s what the family requires. The service has been successful because it works closely with families. See Links and resources. link
- The National
Development Team has produced a number of
helpful resources on inclusion, in particular:
- 'In Praise of “Slow Inclusion”’, 'A real asset’ (on supported volunteering) and 'Accidents at the inclusion traffic lights: mistakes and misunderstandings in supporting people to achieve social inclusion’, all by Peter Bates
- The Inclusion Web - a tool for mapping and tracking inclusion
- Social Inclusion Planner - a free software package to help people plan and support social inclusion, with supporting training.
- 'People with learning difficulties and community - just two things worth knowing', Carl Poll (with help from John McKnight) on the Valuing People website.
- 'Friendship and community: practical strategies for making connections in communities', J. Kennedy, H. Sanderson and H. Wilson, available on the Helen Sanderson Associates website.
- 'It’s not what you know, it’s who: enabling and supporting community involvement’ by A. Cole and A. Lloyd in 'Learning disability today’. S. Carnaby (ed), Pavilion Publishing (2002)
- GoldStar - for good practice guidelines for recruiting and retaining volunteers from socially disadvantaged groups.
- Government Active Communities Unit
- Inclusive Solutions website is about children and young people but an excellent source of all kinds of things to do with inclusion in general.
- Grapevine’s community-building project on the Valuing People website.
- Hidden Treasures: Building community connections by engaging the gifts of people on welfare, people with disabilities, people with mental illness, older people and young people.
- 'Open hearts, open minds, S. Magne and A. McTiernan for Exeter Community Initiatives is a self-assessment handbook for workers that focuses on inclusion.
- Living well 6.1 (April 2006) is a special issue focusing on community involvement and inclusion.
- 'The Asian Women’s Day Service', A. Parmessur in Learning Disability Today, vol 6, issue 4, 2006.