ARC’s enterprising learning disability support training drives business success

8 March 2012

Image: Roberta and Eileen Clark Photograph

Roberta (left) with Eileen Clark from Halton Community Services

ARC’s Active Support programme has been deemed the “premier league” of care after helping a group of people with learning disabilities to run over five businesses.

Halton Community Services in Cheshire once used the traditional model of care, but in 2009 they closed “hotel Halton” and adopted a more hands on approach.

Now, clients who were once introvert, unconfident and displayed behaviour that challenged are working with the public and their peers in a professional environment.

Eileen Clark, Performance Manager at Halton Community Services, and her team are the catalysts behind the changes. She believes many people don’t understand how much people with learning disabilities have to give and how capable they are.

She said: “Supporting people used to be about physical needs, but Active Support is about empowering and motivating people rather than caring and nurturing them.”

Active Support uses a variety of support levels to encourage clients to take part in every day tasks, gradually building up their skills, knowledge and confidence.

The methodology for tasks is used throughout the day services and at home. This means that tasks, such as making a cup of tea, are done the same to avoid confusion and inconsistency.

Christine Harcombe, the Active Support Service Manager, gives the training and helped Eileen and her team to develop the service. She says: “ Active Support is a fantastic model of support and is so much better for clients and support staff.

“I supported Eileen and her team to understand the concept and benefits of engagement and what a valued activity is, as well as developing Opportunity plans which encourage clients to participate and engage.”

This bespoke and detailed support plan has led to a network of businesses being set up, all of which are run by people with learning disabilities who do everything from looking after the chickens who lay the eggs for baking the cakes to sell in the café to cleaning and hiring out scooters at the mobility shop.

Eileen says Active Support has improved the lives of clients, and it is all down to ARC.

She said: “Christine came and liberated the team with her training. She took the shackles off and gave a vision of how people need to be supported to be more engaged in their own lives.

“It was front line training and showed how the support is given in practice, it was motivating to see how engaged people can be.”

See this article for case studies about the lives that have been improved through active support.