Change that leads to better lives

Background to Small Supports Activity

Our Small Supports activity is about thinking and working with people with learning disabilities and/or autism who have ‘hefty reputations’ (to borrow a phrase to describe people who are burdened by the reputations they have been given because of behaviours, reactions, support requirements and large funding packages).

Background activity

Transforming Care, like the Winterbourne View Programme before it, set out to try and change the services that are available. In our view this hasn’t worked. Market development activity has tended to focus on large existing providers who don’t meet most people’s requirements. We rather like the analogy that this is like looking at a local high street and thinking that choice is being developed by adding in yet another supermarket when people are asking for small shops, a market, etc.

In some areas we have seen the growth of very person centered individual support teams that only work with one person (or micro providers). This is welcome but some people and their families are saying that these don’t provide enough structure and security.

People and their families have told us of being trapped for years in inappropriate, isolated buildings based services away from their communities and of the damage this does to their relationships, mental and physical health and aspirations.

Commissioners have told us of their experiences of having limited choices, recomissioning services that they believe will lead to readmission and of hospital admissions and delays to discharge that would not have been necessary if quality community support had been available.

Having spent a lot of time listening to people and exploring support options, we believe that there are a group of support organisations who follow common principles and ways of working that are based on individual choice and control and community lives. Their approach can best be summarised as ‘small supports’ (or perhaps boutique providers). We believe that small supports should be available to people everywhere and we know that, although it can be difficult, current financial and commissioning processes can enable their development.

Our Small Supports activity is people with direct experience of establishing small supports organisations (Beyond Limits, C-Change, Positive Support for You), a development agency used to working to achieve change in local authorities and health organisations (NDTi) and the Local Government Association working with people locally to make it happen.

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