Community-based day activities and supports for people with learning disabilities
10 key tasks - Key task 8: Helping people learn and develop
- Work in partnership with the local further education college, adult community learning, Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and the local authority to widen the range of local learning opportunities. Building 'full day’ opportunities is important to meet family carer needs, so it is important to have the contribution of all these partners to build new options.
- Get involved with both the 14-19 curriculum planning and extended schools agendas alongside the local authority schools service, Special Educational Needs department, and the LSC.
- Diversify funding to build individualised support packages so that young people with higher needs can attend local college courses rather than have to go away from their home area. Model it on In Control approaches, maximising funding from all sources - LSC 'matrix’ money, independent living funding (ILF), direct payments, carers’ grants, benefits - and evaluate so that you can demonstrate the cost-benefits in the longer term.
- Make sure that support staff have the skills they need to help people learn and develop. Everyone benefits when people increase their independence skills, and it helps people have more control over their lives. Training in Systematic Instruction is an approach used in supported employment that could be used more by staff in day services to help people learn skills for independence. Why not buy in some training, but tailor it to the group?
Systematic Instruction is a very person-centred, individualised approach. It is also very deliberate and methodical. It does not leave learning to chance, and has good results in helping people to develop skills.
An analysis is carried out that identifies the actual tasks involved in doing an activity that someone wants/needs to learn, along with any related routines, such as preparation, safety requirements or travel. Support is offered to the individual while actually doing the activity - to enable them to do it safely and adequately. The systematic instruction approach analyses the amount of support required and at what stages. Techniques to help the person develop the necessary skills include breaking the task down into smaller parts, direct assistance/coaching, adapting tasks or sharing tasks with others to get the activity done. These approaches are used only if required.
- Look at this section’s Practice examples to see how new partnerships are beginning to create better local learning opportunities for people. There are others in the Key Ingredients sections Good transition planning and Wider partnership working.
- Focus on developing your skills so that you can help the people you support to develop theirs. You need to take a planned, structured approach to help people learn. Seek out training opportunities to help you to do it well. It will help people to achieve more ordinary lives. See Systematic Instruction
- Consider every moment spent supporting people as an opportunity to support their learning. This means doing things in a way that encourages people to participate and do as much as possible themselves. Before you automatically do something for someone, pause and consider how you could do it differently. Try to be conscious of your actions.
- Learning may involve risks. Assess and manage them well. Take a person-centred approach and involve people and their families in agreeing the risk minimisation plan. And don’t forget to get it approved by your manager. Have a look at the guidance by Peter Kinsella on person-centred risk management (see Links and resources).
As an Improving Choices Pathfinder site the Norfolk Learning and Skills Council has been working with the local authority and Norwich City College to develop and design a 'skills for the job’ curriculum. People will be able to access the parts of mainstream courses that they need in order to fulfil their curriculum requirements. It will overcome many of the barriers around assessment and accessible learning that have existed to date.
The Transition Learning Programme at Rawlins, a community college in Leicestershire, is a funding partnership between the local adult learning service, the Learning and Skills Council, social services, Connexions and health services. It is a 30-hours a week, 38-weeks a year provision, for people with complex needs. Learning takes place for 16 hours a week and is mapped to pre-entry curriculum. People can attend for up to three years, and receive social care support to enable them to participate in the educational programme.
People supported by the Brandon Trust in Bristol were saying they wanted 'to do what the parks department do’, but there wasn’t an amenity horticultural qualification. A local park wanted more community help, so the service teamed up with the collegeto access LSC funding for a parks-based training project. As the Brandon Trust manager said, the project ticked all the boxes: 'It was able to be funded by education, it met the wishes and needs of our learners, it gave us lots of opportunities to link up with other partners, and it made people very prevalent in that community’. The project is now in its second year, and the team are developing a new qualification which will be accredited through the FE college.
Mencap Now is a model of provision that aims to provide personal development opportunities for people who are at a transition point in their life It is based on time-limited tenancies and multi-dimensional funding with clear links to local learning provision, wider learning opportunities and employment support. It focuses on opportunities and learning, with the support people need, to achieve progression - to ordinary lives. Projects are developing around the country.
One of the learners supported by the LSC East of England Pathfinder project is now having an individualised learning package that involves both a course at the local further education college and adult education classes. He has epilepsy with seizures at night, so his college day starts at 11 a.m. and he continues on into adult education classes at 4 p.m. His direct payments are contributing to the support package. See Learning for living and work in Links and resources for more on this.
Links and resources
- National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE)
- Mencap Now, Contact: 01206 210999
- 'A framework for learning: for adults with profound and complex learning difficulties', C. Allen (ed),David Fulton Publishers (2001).
- TSI Ltd is a network organisation delivering and developing training based on training in Systematic Instruction, and promoting supported employment
- Learning for living and work: improving education and training opportunities for people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, Learning and Skills Council (Oct 2006)
- 'Improving choice in post-16 education for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, an evaluation of the East of England Pathfinder', Eastern region Learning and Skills Council (June 2006)
- For information on everyday risk management, including an article by Peter Kinsella on person-centred approach to risk management, see the Valuing People website.
- 'Unpaid work experience: getting it right', Peter Bates (2006), available from the National Development Team website.