Social inclusion for people with challenging behaviour poorly conceptualised and rarely achieved


The topic of challenging behaviour is the most used keyword tag here at the Learning Disabilities Elf. It accounts for a good proportion of all the posts we produce, which is a reflection of course of the published literature.

Recent events in the UK have thrown into sharp relief the need to ensure that vulnerable people with complex needs do not become isolated and hidden as this can significantly increase their risk of coming to harm.

Just last week, the Office for National Statistics released data on the abuse of vulnerable adults which showed that 21% of all referrals for abuse in the period covered were for adults with learning disabilities.

This literature review, carried out in Australia was interested in looking at how social inclusion in relation to people described as having challenging behaviour had been conceptualised operationalised and evaluated in services.

The author carried a systematic literature search to identify what evidence there is relating to the extent of social inclusion in this group.

She found 14 papers that met the inclusion criteria and carried out a thematic analysis.

What she found from this analysis

  • social inclusion has been poorly defined and measured
  • little of the research done has demonstrated the potential of people with challenging behaviour to be socially included.

She concludes that there needs to be a much clearer conceptualisation of inclusion to guide research and to enable service providers to be clearer about the principles upon which their services are developed. She also suggests the need for a greater understanding of which practices support social inclusion and how broader mechanisms at the level of the system can ensure goals around inclusion are prominent in calls on funding

At the level of the individual, she calls for clearer goals around social inclusion to be in support plans.

All of this she hopes may help to

address the neglect of this critical quality-of-life domain for people with challenging behaviour.

Social inclusion and people with intellectual disability and challenging behaviour: A systematic review, Bigby C, in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 37, 4, 360-374

Share on Facebook Tweet this on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+
Mark as read
Create a personal elf note about this blog
Profile photo of John Northfield

John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

More posts

Follow me here –