Walsingham Support personalisedAn initiative that has introduced personalised day support for 10 people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) in Kent has resulted in improvements to their health, wellbeing and happiness, an independent report has found.

Walsingham Support was approached by Kent County Council in May 2012 to propose an alternative to the day support people at the charity’s Turnbull Close residential care service in Dartford were receiving at a local day centre.

The charity recommended a new plan of daytime support activities, based on the interests of each person, which would be run by the charity’s staff. The proposal was favourably received by the council and introduced in November 2013, following consultations with each individual and their family.

Sarah Miller, director of operations and development at Walsingham Support, said: “Kent County Council contacted us as they wanted to respond to [the] government white paper, ‘Valuing People Now’, that required people receiving support to ‘have the best services possible to lead a full and meaningful life’.”

One year after implementation of the service, Walsingham Support commissioned Cordis Bright, a research and consultancy organisation, to conduct an independent assessment on the impact of the new day support provision. Its report, ‘Walsingham Support: Evaluation of Turnbull Close day services’, was compiled following an extensive research process, which involved interviewing, relatives, health professionals and other stakeholders and Walsingham Support staff.

The report has revealed numerous positive outcomes including improvements to people’s health, wellbeing and happiness as well as developments in relationships, social skills, speech, language and mobility skills. 

A relative of one of the individuals who received the new support said: “[My family member] has been helped to develop his social skills and is now much happier to communicate with people in the community and seems much more confident doing so. He is supported to go to work and build more relationships with people he comes into contact with.”

The report also highlighted improvements in relationships between support workers and service users. A support worker said: “People enjoy their jobs more because they are more involved, you are able to develop a bond with the individuals. We support each other and we all work as a team. As a team we have grown stronger.”

Miller added that it was important to have an independent evaluation of the service. “This report conclusively shows the benefits providing tailored support can have and enables us to share our findings with other organisations and local authorities who may be investigating changes to the day time support provision that they provide.”

Penny Southern, director of learning disability and mental health at Kent County Council, said: “We are very happy with the solution [Walsingham Support has] implemented and are looking to build on this model to deliver more support services in the community.”