People with learning disabilities had little choice about where and with whom to live


Maximising choice and control are key elements of policy in relation to supporting people with learning disabilities, but it is recognised that the choice of where to live and with whom is often denied to people, especially with severe or profound learning disabilities. The researchers in this USA study set out to understand the current degree of choice exercised by people using services in the United States.

They used data from the National Core Indicators programme, looking at information from 6778 adult service users living in non-family-home service settings in 26 US states.

They found that the majority of adults with learning disabilities did not participate in choosing where and with whom to live. Those described as having more support needs related to more severe learning disability or co-occurring conditions had the least choice when considering their living arrangements.

Although those who lived in their own homes, or an agency-operated apartment were more likely to make the choice of where and with whom to live than those in nursing homes, institutions or group homes, those with severe or profound learning disabilities were the least likely to choose regardless of where they lived.

The authors conclude that despite policies emphasising choice, many adults with learning disabilities in the USA experienced little or no choice about where and with whom they lived.

They suggest that the findings relating to choice in individualised living settings endorse policies promoting such individualised settings, given that these settings appeared to offer much more choice than others in terms of living arrangements.

Choice of living arrangements, Stancliffe, R et al., in  Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 55: 746–762

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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.

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