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Posted 2020-09-02 18:29:49 by Admin

Paper by Melanie Nind, Andy Coverdale & Abigail Croydon
Published online 1 September 2020 in Disability & Society


UK policy for adults with intellectual disabilities no longer supports state-provided building-based day care but promotes personalised care and support under individuals’ control with choice of community-based opportunities. The research explored experiences of this new terrain and the informal learning involved. An initial scoping review was followed by interviews with key service providers in one urban and one rural area in England and one of each in Scotland. Next, ethnographic fieldwork with people with intellectual disabilities involved a flexible mix of observations, interviews, focus groups, and participant-generated visual data. Thematic analysis involved an iterative mix of deductive and inductive coding. Findings showed informal peer learning ranged from ad hoc to structurally supported. Though learning was often tacit, support was valued and agency developed. The availability of local supportive people and schemes and time spent in them to develop new skills and identities was vital to people self-building community lives.

Points of interest

  • This research looked at the experiences of people with intellectual disabilities, as they and their friends and family respond to policy change bringing in more personalisation and individual choice.
  • Often people with intellectual disabilities and those supporting them do not recognise their everyday learning. Learning outside schools/colleges gets little research attention. We looked at the learning involved in people managing their own daily lives in their communities.
  • Staff and volunteers are helping people to learn from each other in organisations, and this can become more formal peer learning, peer mentoring and peer support programmes.
  • Advocacy groups create a sense of belonging and shared purpose, encouraging peer learning through the sharing of knowledge, experiences and problem solving.
  • When new projects start up or traditional day services change, the staff or volunteers may not involve people with intellectual disabilities in the planning. This means people with intellectual disabilities miss opportunities to learn.