This study is funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research led by PI Sara Ryan, Health Experiences Research Group, University of Oxford. Louise Locock is co-investigator at Aberdeen.

Despite considerable government policy and research about how to support learning disabled people to lead good lives, this is not happening. People lack friendships, fewer than 6% have jobs and life expectancy is lower than average. Recent reports highlight the importance of change led by direct support staff because they can see ‘cracks’ not visible to others.

In this project we go back to basics using a ‘Capability Approach’ to explore how learning disabled people can be supported to lead flourishing lives. A Capability Approach highlights the importance of people being able to do the things they value which is the key to wellbeing. This approach is rarely used in social care. We will use this lens to examine what enabling support looks like to those who receive social care and how it can be put into practice. We will:

1. Find out what good looks like. Identify components of good social care from existing literature. Conduct focus groups and interviews with a diverse sample of learning disabled people and family carers to review these components using a Capability Approach and flexible methods to enable people to take part. Analyse the data and revise the set of components.

2. Work with providers to find out how good support can be delivered. A learning community of six teams of service providers, learning disabled people and co-applicants will meet three times across a year. In the first meeting the component set will be used as a discussion point to identify how staff can better support people to lead flourishing lives. Teams will work together to think about the support they provide, share experiences of enabling social care and identify barriers to providing this. The final meeting will involve presentations from each site, thinking about the sustainability of shifts in practice and identification of the conditions needed to provide enabling support.

3. Produce a Flourishing Life Guide. Project data will be brought together to produce a Flourishing Life Guide for people, families and social care staff. This comprehensive, innovative resource will clearly demonstrate how people's freedom to achieve wellbeing can be cultivated. The Point of Care Foundation will host the Guide online.

4. Take the Flourishing Life Guide on tour. A project team of learning disabled people and a researcher will go on a UK tour presenting the guide to:
i) people who commission services (including NHS England) 
ii) Care Quality Commission who inspect services 
iii) three service providers
iv) two special school sixth forms
The tour will challenge these groups to think differently. 
It will also be shared electronically with every social work university department and via social media, self-advocacy and carer groups.


In set up


Louise Locock;