Research and our work together as family carers and practitioners has found a number of key areas that are helpful when supporting people with learning disabilities. Building on ways to support your relative’s particular needs helps to:
maintain a good quality of life;
reduce the likelihood of behaviours that challenge and emotional difficulties.
Thinking about and trying ways to support your relative in this section may be helpful at this time. Doing even small things in these areas could make a big difference.
Video: "Creating a positive day"
Everyone is different and has different things that are important for their life, but we all share common needs: to feel safe, valued, happy, loved and cared for, and to be able to understand and influence the world around us. Finding ways to support these needs for your relative builds a foundation for their quality of life and decreases the likelihood of behaviours that challenge. Focussing on the simplest things you can do to support this is a good starting point.
Making a positive day
Finding ways for your relative to engage in a range of activities throughout their day will help support their wellbeing and behaviour. Think about the things your relative most enjoys doing. Some of these things are likely to be very difficult to replicate in a home environment, but doing something close to it might be possible.
we're having difficulties getting him from the house to the car so now they have like a coat hanger in the house at the door so that he can put his coat on and get his coat then he has is pictures to get in the car and he is flying into the car now
A mum has recently told me that her son misses going swimming, how he finds the water calming and regulating. So they have been using more bath times through the day. (practitioner)
It can be helpful to spread things your relative enjoys throughout the day, mixed with other things that may that are important but less preferred. This helps to make the day much more manageable for everyone.
It is also helpful to try and build opportunities for choice-making throughout the day. This does not necessarily mean being able to do or have anything at any point. But it could mean trying to give your relative options where possible. This might include showing two items of clothing or two different drinks and asking your relative "do you want this one or this one?" then seeing which they ask for, reach for, look at or move towards.
I have learnt now, you know, give him a see through cup with milk and water in it you know, I am going "do you want milk or do you want water" and he is actually going and choosing what he wants, whereas before he didn’t have a choice, I’d just given him it... I have been able to communicate a lot better with him by choices
Video: "Choice and control"
We have found that keeping to a timetable helps maintain an air of normalcy. We often have choices for different activities to make sure my son has some control, so he feels secure
Getting my son more involved in the cooking process for his meals has become an enjoyable activity in itself. My son helps decide what meal we will eat and then I support him to prepare the parts of the meal he can safely do.
For tasks that have to happen (e.g. washing hands), it might help to offer choices around when or where this takes place or who the person does this with or how much help they receive. Any way of letting your relative have more control is likely to be helpful.