Active support training was effective in supporting people with learning disabilities to be engaged in daily activities


Active Support involves concerns training staff in working practices and organisational procedures to improve levels of resident participation and increase levels of engagement in activities. It is being introduced in many support services for people with learning disabilities to help bring about such improvements. This Australian study set out to look at what happened when Active support was introduced into a large government organisation.

Active support  was introduced through a series of training workshops, where 65 staff from 6 group homes were trained by five experienced trainers. The five trainers were then monitored to provide training to a further 54 staff in another 6 group homes.

An evaluation of the training experience was carried out and pre and post outcome data were collected for a small number of service users from the second set of group homes. In addition  staff outcome data were collected, relating to working practices, group home management, and staffing practices.

The authors suggest that in practical terms, the ‘train-the-trainer’ approach was an effective way of ensuring large numbers of staff in a government agency received the active support training. They found that the interactive training component was associated with improvements in service user engagement in domestic tasks and also decreased depression levels. Interestingly, staff also reported improved job satisfaction after the training and improvements were recorded in residential working practices.

From their experience, the authors conclude that active support training was effective in empowering staff to better support people with learning disabilities to be meaningfully engaged in daily activities.

Transforming staff practice through active support, Riches C et al in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 36, 3, 156-166

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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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