[Alan] The support we provide each person needs to be individual to them if it’s to be effective. Often we’re required to meet the different and very detailed needs of a number of people at the same time and work across a variety of settings in the course of a day. So the circumstances we work in can be really busy and complex. At times, it can be difficult to tell what support is actually in place or decide where to start when trying to improve our support. But however complicated the circumstances or complex people’s needs, experience has shown that when trying to judge how good support is, or decide what to do to improve it, the best understanding of good support comes from recognising that it develops in a sequence of linked stages – the ‘Foundations of Good Support’.

Good support provides: structure – creating consistency and predictability; communication – understanding and responding to a person’s communication skills and needs; support for engagement – supporting people to be engaged in meaningful activities, interactions and relationships; positive approaches to behaviour that challenges – understanding behaviour that challenges as a legitimate expression of distress to which we must listen and respond; support for relationships – improving a person’s quality of life through their relationships with others; aspirations – working together to avoid complacency and contribute towards a person’s rich and fulfilling life.

Each of these levels acts as a foundation to the next, so the extent to which any level can be established and progressed depends on how securely the preceding levels are in place.

United Response teams work with a range of complementary approaches, tools and frameworks when describing and delivering good support, such as Person-centered Thinking tools, Active Support, Positive Behaviour Support and Person-centered Planning and Reviews. These approaches are designed to help teams improve their support but they can take on an importance all of their own and there is a temptation to focus on the details of one perspective and look for a solution in one particular tool or approach. Good support depends not on approaches or tools, but on their results – the observable benefits for the people we support which are described by the Foundations of Good Support.