Active Support Project

Driven by example and effective leadership ARC Cymru 2005

A 3 year Big Lottery funded Project for a programme of support which enables people with learning disabilities, autism and/or behaviour that challenges to be supported to be more included in their own lives.

People with severe and profound learning disabilities are often excluded from programmes and projects designed to increase the independence and community involvement of people with a learning disability. Pump priming money has tended to be used for ‘quick win’ projects with people who have mild to moderate learning disabilities with the expectation that service providers will later move on to helping ‘the hardest cases’.

Welsh Assembly Government policy documents (‘Service Principles, Service Responses’ and ‘Person Centred Approaches to Planning’, [2004], and consultation by the self advocacy organisation All Wales People First demonstrated that people with severe and profound learning disabilities were not benefiting from greater independence or the degree of participation in everyday life that most of us take for granted.

We became aware of Active Support, a method of support designed by the Welsh Centre for Learning Disabilities in the 1980’s, and saw that it was an effective, proven method of reaching people with severe learning disabilities and increasing their potential to have an ordinary life.

In 2004 a pilot workshop was delivered by former ARC Cymru Committee members Karen Wakelin and Debbie Edwards to ascertain the interest among Welsh organisations in exploring the Active Support model further. The workshop was well attended with many representatives from most of the major voluntary organisations across Wales. The feedback was that the interest was there, but there was no coordination, access to training and support and no strategy for bringing about a wide-scale implementation of the model.

ARC Cymru approached the Big Lottery Fund with a proposal for a 3-year funded project to increase the participation in everyday life of 140 people with severe and profound learning disabilities around Wales by offering staff training and ongoing support to 35 service settings so that they could develop specifically tailored services. We also proposed to include eight people with moderate learning disabilities to help us with the project evaluation.

Project supported members in Cymru by:

  • Offering presentations to organisations on how Active Support promotes staff engagement with people with intellectual disabilities to ensure people are more engaged in their own lives.
  • By promoting Active Support and protocols organisations would be able to monitor achievement of outcomes and evaluate achievement of person-centred plans.
  • Demonstrate how coaching and mentoring by service managers dramatically increase staff and client engagement.
  • Consider all current training programmes and professional development strategies were linking together.
  • Training to introduce staff to what Active Support is and what it looks like in practice.
  • Training for managers in how they need to be able to practice manage their team to deliver Active Support on a day to daybasis and evaluate and review support.
  • Develop an Active Support e-forum for organisational support.
  • Produce a training DVD which supported Active Support training.

In 2009 due to the success of the initial project the Active Support Service was developed and has now been expanded and is being offered as a service to include the whole of the UK.

 

Active Support is a method of supporting someone to be engaged, take part and be included in everyday activities and relationships that make up day-to-day living. Staff teams learn how to work as a team in a person-centred way by giving just the right amount of support each individual needs.

Through this project, ARC offered training to staff on using Active Support in the following ways:

  • Using ordinary every day activities to encourage choice and engagement, and to increase independence.
  • Instead of doing things for people or to people, working with people with learning disabilities so they can take part in all the activities of everyday life, no matter how disabled they are.
  • Support people with learning disabilities to plan the best use of their time, with the correct level of support, to engage or participate in all activities that make up day-to-day living.

Active Support training and consultancy is now available across the whole of the UK.

Find out more about UK Active Support Practice Development Service and other Active Support training presentations and resources.

ARC launched the Active Support Service in England and the rest of the UK at the end of August 2009. We held several Active Support Training events which included training to staff teams as well as presentations.

The Active Support Network is continuing with face-to-face meetings and an email-based discussion forum.

The Active Support project in Wales was funded by the Big Lottery fund.

Christine Rose
Active Support UK Service Manager