New connecting service to support people with learning disabilities to have a better quality of life

Release Date: 17 September 2012

Source: Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities

Country: United Kingdom

Today the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities is launching Connecting People, a new approach to connecting services designed to offer people with learning disabilities and their families an improved quality of life.

Research from the Foundation has shown that people with high support needs rarely get the right help to make strong enduring relationships in their community. Connecting People was developed as a result of the three year ‘Developing Business Skills for Community Connecting’ project which worked across six sites in the UK to help third sector organisations to develop a connecting service from scratch.

Molly Mattingly, Head of Learning Disability Programmes at the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities says:

“The project has shown that people using the ‘community connecting’ services see an improved quality of life and increased options. Support staff learn new ways of working with the community, and there can even be savings as “natural supports” diminish the need for specialised services.

“Also, it is remarkable how training in community connecting, a simple yet effective skill, can prove such a worthy investment for families, particularly as the focus is on building relationships based on reciprocity. This reveals what people with high support needs have to offer to their communities and what they can be offered in return.”
Community connecting services, which work with individuals and the people close to them to find out their strengths, talents and interests and connect them to opportunities in their area, are now more accessible than ever through Connecting People.

The service offers three key products: a diagnostic tool, business template and evaluation, which are designed to facilitate training in connecting for existing or potential service providers, commissioners and care managers.
This simple and cost-effective service can be funded from a number of sources, including individual budgets, and significantly reduces people with learning disabilities’ reliance on more expensive specialised support.

Support packages are delivered by industry experts and can be tailored to suit individual requirements. These include:

• Advice, mentoring and training to set up a service
• Business advice to make sure that your service is sustainable
• Support to use an individual budget or direct payment to set up a connecting service
• Training for commissioners and care managers in nurturing local connecting services.

The benefits are widespread, as connecting services can find solutions for people with the most complex needs help establish strong, mutually beneficial relationships, increase the options available to them and help improve their safety.

Annie Sanders, Operations Manager of Natural Ability, said:

“Spending a day with “Connecting People” in London was fantastically valuable from the point of view of feeling we weren’t alone and getting support from other people. The contacts we made with other organisations has been fruitful for us in thinking about another aspect of what we do. I think it will be quite amazing when we get it going!”

Connecting People will host a professional development workshop for connectors on 18 October 2012 at our offices, Mental Health Foundation, 1 Colechurch House, London Bridge Walk.

To enquire about the event, please contact Molly Mattingly, mmattingly@mhf.org.uk.