Good practice projects in supporting people with learning disabilities identified in DH project report



What is good practice when supporting people with learning disabilities? This is the question that was raised following the publication of the Government’s interim report into the events at Winterbourne View.

The question was put to the National Valuing Families Forum and the National Forum for People with Learning Disabilities over the last year and as a result, more than 80 examples were collected. At the end of last month, the Department of Health published its report based on this consultation, selecting 6 exemplars to describe in more detail.

What is Good Practice?

The first question that needs to be addressed in any such process pf course, is what constitutes good? The project team developed a number of indicators of good practice, which included

  • Co-production – involving people who use services in planning and in some cases delivering these services
  • A capabilities approach to disability – looking at strengths first, before considering what people cannot do for themselves
  • Community capacity building –gradually developing more community-based support
  • A move towards more integrated services, involving care, health and often housing and leisure
  • A commitment to personalisation and its positive benefits for people, rather than as a cost-cutting measure.

Six Exemplars

The report looks at six projects in some detail, choosing them as examplars of of a range of issues and project type, hoping that the detail will provide commissioners, providers and people who use services to better understand what is possible.

The six exemplars are:

Co-Production and Personalisation key indicators of good practice

Co-Production and Personalisation key indicators of good practice

  1. Access to Public Health Services in Norfolk,  which looked at easy-to-access information on local health services and involved people with learning disabilities working with professionals to ensure equal access to services.
  2. 360˚ Quality Checking in Gloucestershire which involved a range of people being involved in checking quality, including visits by people with learning disabilities.
  3. Supported Living for People with Complex Needs in Hackney which involved extremely personalised support as an alternative to a more restrictive placement for people with complex needs.
  4. Transition Support for Young People with Complex Needs in  which looked at offering a less restrictive and more personalised approach to young people with complex needs who might usually be referred to adult assessment and treatment units.
  5. Sharing Life Stories, run by the Open University in the London Boroughs  which is a project promoting the recording of people’s histories as valued members of our society. It also helps us to think about how to change attitudes in society and get better at including people with learning disabilities in their local communities.
  6. Support for People with Down’s Syndrome and Early Onset Dementia in Merseyside which looked at an holistic approach to supporting people with Down’s syndrome who have received a diagnosis of dementia, offering information and support about adapting to changing needs.


You can download the full report of the project with more details of each of the six projects as well as further details of some selected examples here.

Learning Disabilities  Good Practice Project, National Forum of People with Learning Disabilities, National Valuing Families Forum, Department of Health

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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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