Community-based day activities and supports for people with learning disabilities
10 key tasks - Key task 7: Supporting people into paid work
- Think about people’s talents and abilities and what people could contribute. Don’t say 'S/he couldn’t work … ’ Assume that people want to, and can work.
- Consider work as an option for everyone, and make sure you ask questions about work when carrying out all assessments. Find out about how people with very complex needs have been helped to take on working roles in other areas. Learn what works, act on it and then spread the word.
- When you refer someone to a day service or support agency ask what they will do to support the person into work. Make it an expectation (part of the individual’s service specification) that they support the person towards work, and monitor progress.
- Help people to access good information about getting a job, and accurate information about the impact on benefits.
- Encourage take-up of direct payments to pay for individual support for people who are working. If your local supported employment scheme cannot provide long-term workplace support this may be an alternative avenue to help people with higher needs stay in work.
- When you are monitoring the support package of a person who is on a work experience placement, make sure that there are time limits and clear plans to help the person move on into paid employment. And check that people who are in long-term volunteer roles have chosen to do it for positive reasons, and not just because they can’t get the help they need to get a paid job. If it’s the latter, refer them to a supported employment agency.
- Raise the possibility of self-employment (or micro-enterprise) with people, their support staff and their families. There is more information on micro-enterprises in the next section. Give people examples, and encourage them to think about it as a positive step. People under 25 may be able to get Youth Opportunities funding locally to help them set up.
- Encourage agencies to support people to work more hours each week rather than just five or six hours, for example. Working tax credits and invalidity benefit now make it financially beneficial for many people to work longer hours. Ensure there is an accurate 'better off’ assessment of benefit allowances undertaken for each individual.
Work and benefits can go well together!
Having a good day found supported employment services that had helped people with learning disabilities into jobs where they are working over 16 hours a week - and gaining the financial advantages of tax credits and Access to Work. They were better off than when they were just on benefits.
- Look at the description of a social firm [link to grey below] and consider how your social firm measures up against the criteria listed. Have you achieved the 50 per cent target of income coming from sales? Do all people with learning disabilities have a contract of employment and market wage at or above national minimum wage? Stop and review how far the firm has progressed.
- Plan your next steps. Draw up a new business plan to give you a development framework for the coming year. The business plan outline reproduced here is for new social firms, but you could adapt it. Bring in expert help if you need it. Have a look on the Social Firms UK website (see Links and resources) - it’s a great source of information.
- Have a look at the two social firm examples below to see what you can learn from them (there are more examples on the Social Firms UK website).
- Explore the opportunities that a community interest company (CIC) may present - they fit well with the goals of inclusion and community involvement.
- Consider whether 'externalising’, i.e. moving out of a local authority or charity would bring benefits. Look at all the options and get advice. Social Firms UK has two guides to externalisation: one from public authorities (NHS and local authority) and the other from charities.
- Prepare people for an active and fulfilling retirement from the firm by making sure that they are supported to plan what they will do after they go. It’s a transition that requires good person-centred planning.
- Consider work with each and every person you support. Think about people’s talents and abilities and what people could contribute. Don’t say 'S/he couldn’t work …’ Assume that people want to, and can work.
- Think about self-employment and small business opportunities that match someone’s talents, and help them to get things going. See the information on 'micro-enterprises’.
- Proactively refer to appropriate agencies or make demands on schemes that should help. It’s an equality and discrimination issue. People with learning disabilities should be able to access services that are supposedly there for everyone, such as getting help from JobcentrePlus, accessing college courses, accessing funded courses that are intended to help people into work. If they can’t, make sure that managers and commissioners know there is a gap in provision - an unmet demand - and support self-advocates to take the matter up with the agencies concerned.
- Be clear about the local referral routes to supported employment services
- Work positively with family carers around work. Help them to see the benefits, especially by linking them up with other carers who have positive experience of people being employed
- Ask people with learning disabilities who are in work to talk to the people you support who aren’t.
- Make sure that you are up to date with employment and benefits information so that you aren’t circulating myths and misinformation.
- Create the expectation that employment should be part of everyone’s individual plan, and ensure that assessment and planning formats include employment as a standard heading.
- Ensure that local information about employment is available in accessible formats. The Valuing People website is a good source of accessible leaflets.
- When commissioning or evaluating local supported employment services, use a structured framework. You could use the key features list from Supported employment - what works or refer to the Supported Employment Quality Assurance (SEQA) framework (see Links and resources). If an organisation isn’t doing the things listed, its chance of getting people into paid work and keeping them employed is diminished.
- The Valuing People Employment Framework details the types of things to consider in creating an employment strategy. Partnership boards had to write employment strategies to say how they would work with other organisations so that more people with learning disabilities could get jobs. Is it time to update your local strategy? Keep it live!
- Employment strategies should include clear targets about the numbers of people - gaining paid work, - retained in work, - increasing hours employed - moving on from traditional services.
They should also include targets about the number of people with learning disabilities employed in local public sector organisations, linking into disability equality schemes locally. It’s also important to ensure that targets are set for people with higher support needs.
- The responsibility to ensure that all people can enter the workforce is a corporate and community one - it does not simply lie with health and social care. Make sure that your strategy is embedded in broader strategies and owned corporately.
- Read the report 'Improving work opportunities for people with a learning disability' (see Links and resources). It demonstrates that much more needs to be done to get more people paid work. Click here to see the summary of the report’s conclusions. It’s a call to action. So, what will you do locally?
- Consider whether there is a mismatch between what people say they want through their individual plans and the opportunities and support on offer. Do more people say they want to find work than the local supported employment scheme could cater for? Base your commissioning and service development on information about what people want to achieve (see Smart commissioning).
- Set employment and progression targets for community day services and supported living agencies to focus their effort on helping people into work, but also make sure there is a mechanism for people to feed back about the barriers they experience.
- Agree on common definitions of learning disability and employment across agencies to ensure accurate reporting of statistics, and make sure the pathways to employment support are clear for everyone.
- Invest with a view to the longer-term outcomes - the cost of support for most people in work will reduce over time. Funding employment support is a legitimate invest-to-save strategy.
- Make the role of day services explicit in relation to employment so that there is a coherent local network of opportunities and support. What should they focus on? How will people move between the different elements of the network? What staff development will be needed?
- It’s really important that people with direct payments and individual budgets are able to access supported employment. So, here are some questions to consider.
Employment support for people with direct payments
How is your local area doing?
- Are there lists of local workers with specific employment skills?
- Can people purchase individualised support from supported employment agencies locally?
- Have supported employment agencies set hourly rates at which they can sell support?
- Can personal assistants link into agencies for advice and training?
- Do support planners and brokers have good knowledge of supported employment agencies and approaches? Do they know what they should be looking for?
- Are there information packs available about people’s rights in relation to employment support, local agencies etc?
Tuck by Truck is a social firm supported by MCCH Society Ltd. It supplies 'usherette style’ snack trays to businesses throughout Kent from bases in Herne Bay, Aylesford and Dartford. A tray of confectionery and crisps is delivered to the customer with a cash box. Tuck by Truck will visit weekly or fortnightly to replace the box and reconcile the cash against sales. There are three tray selections to choose from, varying in size and content. It is a simple way for an employer to ensure that staff can buy snacks on site without the frustration of vending machine breakdowns. Profits from sales ensure that the delivery assistants are paid the national minimum wage for each delivery shift. Employers have used their support for Tuck by Truck as evidence towards Charter Mark status.
An example of a micro-enterprise It was suggested by a day centre that two young women could set up a micro-enterprise together. They both have very severe physical impairments and communication difficulties, and at first it was far from clear what sort of business would be right for them. But time spent getting to know their interests revealed that they really liked bright colours, and anything to do with parties and celebrations. They bought a special machine, second-hand, which packs novelty objects (ranging from soft toys to fluffy handcuffs) inside a balloon, to make novelty gifts. These are sold through local shops. The two women choose the novelty objects, and choose well. It was Valentine's Day a few months after they started the business, and they were swamped with orders.(This is one example of a successful micro-enterprise; there are others on the National Development Team website)
Bizmatch Ltd is the trading arm of Workmatch Ltd and was set up in 2006. Workmatch meanwhile, was formed as a charitable company, limited by guarantee in 1995. It was formerly the employment preparation unit for Herefordshire social services working predominantly with people with a learning disability. The aims and objectives of this new organisation were to broaden its client base to encompass all disabled and disadvantaged people and to generate alternative funds through its charitable status and through trading. Workmatch creates work experience and employment opportunities for disadvantaged people through its social enterprises. It currently runs four business activities across four locations covering Herefordshire and parts of Worcestershire, as follows:
Bizmatch encompasses four of Workmatch’s businesses:
- REGARD, a wholesale horticultural services and community learning resource based at a Victorian walled garden at Lugwardine Court between Ledbury and Hereford.
- SPOKES recycles unwanted bicycles for retail to families and people on low income. This business has trading units in Hereford, Ross-on-Wye and Kidderminster.
- CANDO business services is based in Hereford and provides mailing fulfilment and light packaging and assembly. CanDo also supplies buffets for meetings and AGM’s etc.
- NCODA is based in Leominster and provides a restoration service for antique furniture for both the public and private dealers. Ncoda (an anagram of CanDo) also buys and restores items which are sold through Ebay or through its showroom at Leominster.
Bizmatch has its own constitution, board of directors, payroll and banking facilities. It is a Not-for-Profit company with trading surpluses being gift aided to Workmatch at the end of each accounting period. Across the four Bizmatch businesses plus a disability information service that it runs, Workmatch now employs 26 staff of whom eight are full-time and the remainder work a minimum of 16 hours per week. Eleven employees (of whom five are full time) are people with 'long term’ disabilities. Disabled staff fill positions from senior management to operator level. Workmatch is governed by a board of five trustees of whom two have long term disabilities.
At the start of 2000, some five years after its inception, Workmatch had a turnover of around £100,000 of which 65% came from statutory funding and around £15,000 was trading income. Bizmatch Ltd budget for 2006-2007 is £320,000 of which £200,000 will be from direct trading and contract services. Funding from statutory services now accounts for less than 15% of total income.
Workmatch has maintained the Investors in People accreditation since 2002. It has also achieved ISO 9001 EN since 2001, and Community Legal Service accreditation in 2004 (the first charitable company to achieve this in the West Midlands). Workmatch has twice won a Remploy 'Leading the Way’ award (2004 and 2005) for its work in helping disabled people to achieve employment and REGARD won a regional social enterprise of the year award in 2003.
Says Workmatch Chief Executive, Geoff Tunstall,
Our staff are drawn from all sectors of the community. The single most important quality we are looking for is that they have something to prove, whether it be due to a lack of training opportunities when they were younger, disability, or from being prematurely excluded from employment. It is this hunger to succeed allied to a fully integrated workforce that has helped Workmatch (and Bizmatch) to move forward. We’ve succeeded due to hard work and 24/7 commitment. We’ve also never been complacent and have always been prepared to restructure when necessary. After five years of hard work we are proud to have four businesses, providing excellent products and services which are creating excellent jobs.’
For more information see: Workmatch
Pack-IT Product Promotions was established in 1988 as a small enterprise carrying out light industrial packing services. It is now a thriving three-pronged business supplying mailing, storage & distribution and on-line fulfilment, with an enviable reputation as a fast turn-around specialist. It also provides specialised finishing services such as subscription fulfillment and cross matching of short-run hand mailings, full web-based real time stock control facilities and customer services capabilities. Pack-IT was originally set up by Cardiff City Council to provide training opportunities and permanent paid employment for people with learning disabilities. However, the organisation is now the only example in the country of a Social Firm that has been successfully externalised from its local authority. As a Social Firm and community business, Pack-IT employs 21 staff, half of whom have Down's Syndrome, are profoundly deaf or have behavioural and learning difficulties. Yet everyone at Pack-IT is paid above market rates and works full-time.
This committed, long-serving workforce has played a vital part in the business's success story. Since John Bennet joined as Manager in 1994 turnover has increased from £70,000 to £1.2m in 2003. Accrued profits stand at £121,000 and these are ploughed back into the business and invested in people and machinery.
In 2005 Pack-IT won The European Social Firm of the Year Award. In 2003 it also won the UK Social Enterprise Award for 'Enterprising Solutions’, a DTI-sponsored award celebrating the success, innovation, and unique nature of businesses that display both entrepreneurial flair and a commitment to social change.
I am proud of the unique tag that Pack-IT carries and equally proud of the staff that are fully involved in the day-to-day business that Pack-IT is. However, I want all businesses and organisations with whom we work to recognise that while we are firmly committed to the principles of Social Firms and social enterprise, that commitment shouldn't detract from the fact that we are a commercial business in our own right. Sixteen years on, evidence is that we are in it for the long haul. Pack-IT wants to be judged by the success of the business that it carries out, not by the people it employs.’
For more information visit: Pack-IT
Linkage Green in Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire, is a social enterprise where between seven and ten people are supported to work each day taking care of a county class bowling green and café. The business runs seven days a week. The majority of the people have high support needs. They match people’s interest and skills to tasks. One person, for example, works as a 'table supplies controller’, filling condiments for one hour a day, three days a week, paid at the national minimum wage.
In Norfolk a partnership between the Learning and Skills Council, the local authority and Norwich City College has led to an initiative to develop social firms and social enterprises. A community interest company is being set up which can raise shares and capital investment. As well as work to generate new social firms there has been a course for people with learning disabilities about micro-enterprise. Learning Disability Development Fund money amounting to £5,000 has been used to offer start-up grants of up to £500 each for up to 10 people. So far, four people have received this support - a musical entertainer, a market stallholder selling children’s clothes, an Ebay art emporium and a dog-walking service.
In Poole, Dorset, a formal partnership has been developed between the Borough of Poole’s adult services and the local job centre. Two staff from the supported employment team are now based at the Job Centre alongside other mainstream employment staff.
The Brandon Trust in Bristol operates an individualised service that supports people to go out and do things they choose. One person had used her supporter to help her to go to bingo She then developed an interest in bingo-calling. She now has a paid job bingo calling once a week, and her supporter goes along with her.
- 'Supported Employment Quality Assurance (SEQA)' by A. O’Bryan and J. O’Brien for the National Development Team, Manchester (1995).
- Improving work opportunities for people with a learning disability (2006) free from the Valuing People website.
- Your local Nextstep Partnership provides 'face to face information and advice services, offered free to adults over 20 years of age wanting to learn new skills … and improve their career prospects’. Target groups include people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.
- Making the Jump: resource packs from NIACE to help adults with learning disabilities make the jump from courses and training into work. There are two packs in the set, a staff resource pack and a pack for people with learning difficulties who want to work. See the publications page of the NIACE website.
- The National Development Team’s work on micro-enterprises and the Micro-Enterprise Development Network has an email discussion forum supported by web pages.
- The Disabled Workers Cooperative hosts an on-line database of the skills, products and services that disabled people can offer, and a portal where you can search for employees and advertise vacancies for free
- Young Enterprise is the UK’s leading business and enterprise education charity. More than 5,500 schools and colleges participate, and Young Enterprise currently reaches more than 320,000 young people a year from primary school right through to university. The businesses and volunteers that support Young Enterprise take an active role in building a better-motivated, educated and enterprising workforce, at the same time making a real difference to the existing lives and future potential of young people who live and attend school in their area.
- The Social Enterprise Coalition website or the Social Enterprise London (SEL) website has a comprehensive introductory publication 'Introducing social enterprise’, available to download.
- The British Association of Supported Employment is a membership organisation for supported employment agencies and supported businesses in the UK. The site gives a wide range of information and services to members and others interested in supported employment.
- For people involved or interested in supported employment, is a site where registered members are invited to exchange ideas and discuss issues of good practice relating to supported employment from around the world via the talk forum. The site also provides an update on news and events and training opportunities in supported employment.
- Numerous leaflets and other resources for people with learning disabilities about work are available to download from the Valuing People website, including Stockport: employment services and day services modernisation by D. Cresswell and Travel buddies, Hounslow by N. Bitar and M. Simons.
- Co-operative social firms - for information on co-operative social firm and on making a business plan.
Other helpful publications:
- Paying a real wage to people in work projects, J. Scott, MCCH Society, Kent (Aug 2005)
- Supported employment for people with complex needs: choosing, getting and keeping a job Final Report, J. Weston, SHS