A new DVD is being launched today, which illustrates how using person centred active support can promote social inclusion, growth in independence and choice and control for people with learning disabilities including those with complex needs such as autism or challenging behaviour.

‘Promoting Person Centred Support and Positive Outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities’, is a collaboration between the national disability charity, United Response, and the Tizard Centre at the University of Kent.The DVD which aims to address key issues around person centred active support, and how it can best be implemented, draws on good practice demonstrated by support staff and managers within United Response.

A recent study of people with learning disabilities conducted by the Tizard Centre and the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the University of Kent, and funded by the NIHR School for Social Care, revealed that just one third of people included in the sample were consistently receiving person centred active support, despite the fact that people who are supported in this way experience significantly better outcomes in terms of engagement in meaningful activities, relationships and community integration.  Driven by this research, United Response and the Tizard Centre teamed up to develop materials to promote person centred active support and other person-centred approaches.

Julie Beadle-Brown said “The core theme of the film is active support as an enabling relationship between staff or family carers and the person they support so that people grow in skills and independence, experience real choice and control in their lives and become a valued member of their community. This happens irrespective of the severity of disability or the presence of additional needs or difficulties”. Focusing on everyday situations and the positive outcomes of support for people with learning disabilities, the film highlights the essential elements of person centred active support. The practice of supporting people to be engaged at home, in the community, at work, and in relationships are explored in the film as well as the  the links between active support and other elements of good practice, such as good communication, autism friendly approaches and positive behaviour support.

Several people supported by United Response feature in the film. Jacob, for example, loves wearing his sunglasses and this often opens up a discussion between him and his support staff. This simple form of engagement highlights the fact that the interaction can be more important than the activity itself but that the activity gives a context for the social interaction to occur.

Meanwhile, three people who live together enjoy discussions in the kitchen with their support worker while tidying up after the evening meal and getting ready for evening activities. The member of staff shares his attention and skills between everyone in the household, both socially and from a support viewpoint. This encourages interaction and relationship building between the housemates, a key aspect of living together that United Response works to encourage and support people to be able to do.

The DVD highlights the fact that often giving people lots of short activities makes tasks feel more manageable and, in many cases, the approach of ‘little and often’ can be hugely valuable. This promotes a sense of independence, and, rather than focusing on one long activity in the day, this strategy makes the most of all of the opportunities available throughout the day and uses these to get people involved in brief tasks, keeping people engaged throughout the day.

Bev Ashman, Practice Development Co-ordinator at United Response, said: “Active Support is about identifying and meeting the needs of individuals in a person centred way and this DVD explains the importance of integrating planning and person centred action.

“We believe that active support is a fundamental element of good quality services and we wanted to take the opportunity to promote its use to as many people as possible.  Trying new things in a structured and personalised way allows us to support people to have more choice and autonomy over their own lives.”

‘Promoting Person Centred Support and Positive Outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities’ has been developed by the Tizard Centre and United Response, working with Frameworks for Change and funded by the School for Social Care Research.