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

10 key tasks - Key task 4: Building support around people

Important things for commissioners and managers to do:

Important things for care managers and care coordinators to do

Important things for staff supporting people in community-based activities to do

Practice examples

The SHS Evaluation of the ELCAP GOLD project - In their evaluation of the ELCAP GOLD project, the SHS Trust make a number of recommendations for services and staff giving support in social settings:

Match workers to activities - Support works best when someone is supporting a person in an activity they also enjoy.

Change shift or working patterns - A service working within the community has to change its organisation to fit the timing of community activities, either by changing shift patterns or employing people for that activity.

Provide specific training - Support in social settings is a specific skill that requires strategies and facilitation. Training should include skills such as job coaching for people volunteering, methods of introducing, risk management (not just assessment) and techniques of fading.

Provide specific support for workers - Time needs to be set aside so that support staff can talk about what is working and what they find hard. It also means that progress on connecting can be monitored.

Change the nature of support - Support workers should facilitate conversation with members of the public, and either stay in the background when someone is participating in an activity or fully join in. Taking on a role, such as clearing away, helps people to become part of the group.

Participate in group etiquette - Every group has small actions that everyone follows - group etiquette. Etiquette can be adapted to individual circumstances, particularly if it is known that it may be stressful for a person, but generally people need to be doing the same thing so that they do not appear 'different’. This may mean tidying up, standing up rather than sitting down, arriving early if that’s what other participants do, and so on.

Adapt and practice activities - To support people to actively participate, activities can be practiced. Asking another participant to help someone practice can be an opportunity to facilitate relationships. If activities are hard for people, adapt them. For example, use coloured dominoes to help number recognition when playing, learn a part of a tango in advance, etc. Inclusive activities work best when they are fun.

To facilitate letting go

From: 'Inclusive leisure - beyond activities: an evaluation of the ELCAP GOLD project’, SHS Trust (2003).