By the word “structure” we mean a deliberate arrangement of events, activities, routines, rituals, interactions and opportunities over time, so that they happen predictably.

We would expect structure to be derived from, and built around, the individuals concerned, not imposed without regard to personal preference, nor vary as a result of support staff differences.

Why is structure important for someone with a learning disability or mental health need?

Good structure enables people to anticipate what is happening, provides a shape to the day and an organised framework for support.

A learning disability or mental health need affects a person’s ability to understand or remember the information they need to create and maintain their own personal structure. So people requiring support will have at least as great a need for structure as everybody else but without all (or many) of the skills to manage it for themselves.

In services where a range of people are providing support, predictability and consistency usually require a written plan of who’s going to do what and with whom – sometimes called a shift plan.

These resources are part of Foundations of Good Support – a step by step guide to assessing the quality of support being provided for people with learning disabilities and/or autism, and identifying what might need changing in order to improve it.

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