Adult Care Blog:


Group living inhibits social inclusion for people with learning disabilities says David Williams, chief executive of Ability Housing Association. How can we explain away the fact that a woman with learning disabilities developed a vocabulary of just 40 words in the first 50 years of her life in group living environments, yet increased her vocabulary to over 1400 words within 18 months of moving into her own, fully self-contained, home?


Conventional wisdom has it that people with learning disabilities will inevitably become lonely and socially isolated unless they share their homes with others similarly placed by adult social care authorities. Evidence to the contrary is mounting daily. The woman above is Jo, a tenant of Ability Housing Association since 2009. Ability is committed to providing all of its supported living tenancies in fully self-contained dwellings only. Is Jo socially isolated? Not a bit of it. Her social life revolves around her family – who can now visit and stay with her, in absolute privacy – and her local community. Jo was never short of human contact in her group home.


But then they say you’re never so lonely as in a crowd. In the UK, according to the Department of Health, most adults with a learning disability live with their families. A further 33% live in residential care. Only 15% hold a tenancy; of these many live in group homes or other supported living environments with communal facilities.


Only a small minority enjoy a home they can truly call their own. Superior outcomes It’s time for this to change and not just for reasons of equality and human rights. Self-contained homes deliver far superior outcomes in terms of personal growth, development of independent living skills and social inclusion. It is widely accepted that the physical environment is a major determinant of social behaviour.


Environments that offer minimal private space and more public space result in competition for control and supremacy. In staffed supported living environments this competition is invariably won by support workers. Communal rooms become gathering places for operational convenience, shared care activities, or worse, social venues for staff. A genuine tenancy agreement that offers exclusive possession of the whole home changes that dynamic radically and irreversibly.


Source: Community Care




27th August 2013



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