Person-Centred Active Support is a method of enabling people with learning disabilities to engage more in their daily lives. It promotes independence and supports people to take an active part in their own lives.
We started introducing Active Support in the summer of 2017, with the creation of eight pilots across England and Scotland. The success of the pilots led to a wider rollout, which started in October 2018. This includes training for practice leaders and observers as well as support staff.
Active Support is carefully evaluated. Formal measures of success include the quality of person-centred plans, internal audits, and regular observations where teams are scored against five engagement measures.
Informally, staff look at the difference that Active Support is making by meeting regularly to share success stories.
“I don’t like it when staff do it – I do it all by myself!” – a person we support
Abbie is a practice leader for Active Support in Leeds. She says: “The people we support are doing much more for themselves day-to-day. They may be little things like making a drink or preparing food, but they make a big difference.
“One gentleman we support would previously have got up in the morning, had a bath, and then waited for us. Now he gets up, strips down his bed and, with a little prompting, will get the laundry underway.”
Andrew Beland, Director of Operations and Quality, echoes this: “Our staff have loved watching the people they support grow in confidence and skill, and they get a lot of job satisfaction from that as well.”
Active Support in practice
One of Anita’s goals is to blend some of her own meals, so we bought her a handheld blender. Staff hold Anita’s hand over the blender and, with support, she can push the button. The noise and vibrations make Anita laugh.
David takes an active role in food preparation, making pasties, sausage rolls and pizzas. He also enjoys making biscuits; staff ask him to pick up a certain shape and he presses the shape down to form the biscuit. David has bought some Play-Doh and cutters in different shapes and colours. Talking to staff about these encourages David’s spoken communication.
Maggie and Vincent have their own coffee machines, allowing them to make their own drinks, pushing the button with staff support. They both seem to enjoy their coffee-making because of the sound and smell – as well as the taste.