Nature of support is key in enabling self-determination of people with learning disabilities


Self determination is a key thrust of current learning disability policy and indeed sits at the heart of the personalisation agenda in adult social care. This study worked with 17 people with learning disabilities, using interviews to help gather information to help improve our understanding of what impact self determination was having on their lives.

A number of themes emerged from the analysis of the interviews – which the authors grouped into three categories: meaning of self-determination, learning about self-determination, and dreams for the future.

The way participants described self-determination was as a way of them being able to make choices and be more in control of what happened in their lives. They also talked about being able to work toward goals and to take part in advocacy.

A key theme that emerged was the importance of the way supports were offered to enable the expression of self-determination and the nature of the environmental characteristics, physical and cultural, that either promoted or inhibited self-determination.

The authors suggest that the perceptions that emerged from the interviews about views around self-determination confirmed their thinking about the importance of promoting individual skills and attitudes and changes to systems that are associated with self-determination.

Exploring the Perceptions of Self-Determination of Individuals with Intellectual Disability, Shogren K & Broussard R, in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 49, 2, 86-102.

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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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