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Despite considerable government policy and research about how to support learning disabled people to lead good lives, this is not happening. This project's approach is in search of flourishing lives, focusing on the importance of people being able to do the things they value which is key to wellbeing.

Learning disabled people lack friendships, fewer than 6% have jobs and life expectancy is lower than average. Recent reports highlight the importance of change led by direct support staff because they can see ‘cracks’ not visible to others. In this project we go back to basics using a Capability Approach. This approach focuses on the importance of people being able to do the things they value which is key to wellbeing. A capability approach is rarely used in social care and we will use it as a lens to examine what good enabling support looks like to those who receive social care, and how this can be put into practice.

This project has also been summarised as an easy-read pdf.

We will be implementing the following four steps:

Find out what 'good' looks like

  • Identify components of good social care from existing literature.
  • Conduct focus groups and interviews with a diverse sample of learning disabled people and family carers to review these components. We will be flexible in our research methods to enable people to take part.
  • Analyse the data and revise the set out components.


  • A learning community of six teams of service providers, learning disabled people and co-applicants will meet three times across a year. In the first meeting the component set will be used as a discussion point to identify how staff can better support people to lead flourishing lives.
  • Teams will work together to think about the support they provide, share experiences of enabling social care and identify barriers to providing this.
  •  The final meeting will involve presentations from each site, thinking about the sustainability of shifts in practice and identification of the conditions needed to provide enabling support.


  • Project data will be brought together to produce a Flourishing Life Guide for people, families and social care staff. This comprehensive, innovative resource will clearly demonstrate how people's freedom to achieve wellbeing can be cultivated.
  • The Point of Care Foundation will host the Guide online.
  • It will also be shared electronically with every social work university department and via social media, self-advocacy and carer groups.


A project team of learning disabled people and a researcher will go on a UK tour to challenge these groups to think differently, presenting the guide to:

  • people who commission services (including NHS England)
  • Care Quality Commission who inspect services
  • three service providers
  • two special school sixth forms

This proposal has been shaped by the involvement of people with expertise including learning disabled people, family carers, service providers, the Care Quality Commission, a commissioner and principal social worker.