Case study shows active support training improved staff assistance to people with learning disabilities


Active Support concerns training staff in working practices and organisational procedures in homes to help provide direct support for resident participation and increase levels of engagement in activities.

The researchers in this study looked at the effect of staffing levels, e.g. either one or two staff on the amount of assistance provided to people with learning disabilities living in a group home. They also compared the levels of resident engagement in activities before the implementation of active support and for some time after.

The research team gathered data by direct observation on staff assistance and resident engagement across six pre-test and post-test 80-minute sessions.

In relation to staff assistance and resident engagement, they found no clear benefit from additional staffing before the active support training. Following the active support training, they found that having two staff yielded increased staff assistance. There was however limited evidence of increased resident engagement, despite more continuous staff assistance.

The authors consider the implications of their findings on the impact of staffing levels on resident engagement and staff assistance post active support training and recommend some ways forward for further research.

Staffing numbers and active support: a case study, Stancliffe R et al., in Tizard Learning Disability Review 16, 3, 21-30

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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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