Twenty years ago United Response began implementing Active Support to study, monitor and evaluate its implementation and impact on the quality of support we provide, under the guidance of the late Professor Jim Mansell and working closely with the Tizard Centre at the University of Kent.

Since then Active Support has moved into the mainstream, with more and more people with intellectual disabilities, their families and advocates expecting support that enables individuals to participate as much as possible in the activities and interactions of their life, at home and in the community.

Increasingly provider organisations are looking for ways to implement and sustain Active Support; and funding agencies and regulators are requiring the implementation of Active Support to ensure:

  • that resources are being used to provide the best value for money
  • and that the quality of life of people receiving support is as good as it possibly can be.

Active Support is an evidence based approach which is now widely recognised as best practice in supporting people with intellectual disabilities and as a foundation for other approaches including Positive Behaviour Support, Effective Communication and the SPELL framework.  

But experience in the UK and overseas tells us that while Active Support has become a long standing goal for many organisations over the last 20 years, with many successes, it can be difficult to implement and maintain over time.

The purpose of this conference is to present the findings from our 20 years of research on Active Support, along with the experience of academics, other providers and practitioners putting it into practice.

Speakers from United Response will be joined by speakers from universities, other support providing organisations and schools in the UK and across the world, including Australia, Norway, the USA and Canada, to provide a comprehensive account of the approaches, experience and learning from implementing Active Support and investigate/consider the barriers and future of embedding this approach.

Date: 7 July 2020

Venue: Keynes College (Lecture theatre 1), University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NP

Time: 0930 to 1700 (followed by a drinks reception)

Registration fee: £95.00 per person (includes refreshments, lunch and drinks reception)

Find out more and register here


The conference 'Celebrating 20 years of implementing and evaluating Active Support' is part of a three-day event focusing on Active Support and Support Decision Making jointly organised by United Response, Tizard Centre and IASSIDD Comparative Policy and Practice Special Interest Research Group. 

8 July 2020: Supporting decision making of people with intellectual disabilities conference

9 July 2020: IASSIDD roundtable on mapping policy, practice and research on supporting decision-making

This two-day event, comprising a one-day conference and one-day roundtable, aims to bring together researchers, practitioners and policy makers to share research about approaches to realising the right of people with intellectual disabilities to make decisions about their own lives.

It provides opportunities for discussion about key ideas, to compare and contrast initiatives and consider common practice challenges. 

Registration fees

Day 1: Celebrating 20 years of implementing and evaluating active support conference - £95

Day 2: Supporting decision making for people with intellectual disabilities conference - £95

Day 3: Roundtable on mapping policy practice and research on supported decision making - £45

All three events are open to all and will be hosted in Keynes College, University of Kent, Canterbury.

Find out more and register here