Study suggests little support for cultural needs given to people with mild learning disabilities from minority ethnic communities


There is little in the literature at present about the lived experience of people with mild learning disabilities from minority ethnic communities. This qualitative study set out to look at this issue and to generate a deeper understanding of their experiences.

The author individually interviewed four adults with mild learning disabilities who were being supported by an independent living project. The author used semi structured interviews to gather data, recording the interviews and analysing the transcriptions using interpretative phenomenological analysis, an approach that seeks to make sense of how a person, in a given context, attempts to makes sense of any given phenomenon, for example a major life event.

The author found that the four participants all felt socially isolated and did not have a wide social network. They also said that they had suffered some form of abuse in the past. All reported finding satisfaction in their employment, but reported a lack of support with cultural needs.

Whilst this is a very small study, it clearly adds to the sparse literature in this area and the author suggests the findings highlight the need for greater emphasis to be placed on examining social support needs of people with mild learning disabilities to enable independent living without risking social isolation.

A qualitative exploration of the life experiences of adults diagnosed with mild learning disabilities from minority ethnic communities, Pestana C, in Tizard Learning Disability Review, 16,5, 6-13

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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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