Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Faith-based care services have impact on quality of life of people with a learning disability

Care home residents with a learning disability who live in faith-based care services recorded higher quality of scores, according to new research.

The study, published in Journal of Long-Term Care, looked at the extent to which spiritual beliefs and practices were linked to individuals’ perceptions of quality of life in two types of care services: one a faith-based provider, the other a non-faith-based service.

It found that spiritual and/or religious beliefs as well as practices and support from the spiritual community can contribute to the quality of life perception of individuals with a learning disability.

The study used a mixed-methods approach utilising the Quality Of Life Questionnaire (QOLQ) and the Systems of Belief Inventory-15R to interview people with intellectual disabilities (ID) or, if they lacked capacity, their formal carers, who lived in their respective service for a
long time.

Religious services and practice should be more accessible

The finding also highlighted how individuals from both services appeared to have an understanding of spiritual matters and the benefits spiritual and religious beliefs and practices had for their

It also highlighted how some participants with a learning disability found aspects of religious practice ‘boring’ or inaccessible in the context of sermons and suggested a need for more individualised and purposeful adaptations of sermons for a more diverse audience with varied learning needs.

The authors concluded: “To deny people with ID the opportunity for spiritual and religious experiences and support could be argued to limit their legal right in relation to fulfilling all aspects of
human life and achieving their highest level of personal
development, similar to Maslow’s self-actualisation hierarchy of needs.

“Even though the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities does not explicitly recognise this spiritual right, other UN conventions do, and we recommend that health and social care professionals and organisations explore more ways to work with religious organisations and/or representatives (e.g., churches, chaplains, etc.) to facilitate quality spiritual and religious care provision for individuals with ID.”

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