Retirement planning for people with learning disabilities appears at odds with personalisation and inclusion


This Australian study set out to explore the issues relating to retirement for older employees with learning disabilities in supported employment services.

The researchers discussed retirement in 6 separate focus group interviews, with staff from disability accommodation and employment services, members of mainstream activity programmes for older people, family members of people with disabilities and supported employees themselves – 2 groups of 6 people. They interviewed 35 people in total.

The findings suggested that those who were interviewed were less than optimistic about the possibilities for older people with learning disabilities approaching retirement. They thought the transition represented a risk to the well-being of employees and to their continued participation in their communities.

They thought the necessary support in retirement would not be available. They identified the need for additional resources and skills, but felt that the current services on offer would only lead to continued segregation in retirement.

The authors conclude that the perception of participants were at odds with the policy direction of personalisation and inclusion and this represented an additional barrier to conceptualising and planning for continued quality of life in retirement for older employees with learning disabilities

Disconnected expectations: Staff, family, and supported employee perspectives about retirement, Bigby et al, in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 36. 3 167-174


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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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