Bridging the translation gap between learning disability policy and practice in search of flourishing lives

Sara Ryan In progress  


Despite considerable government policy and research about how to support learning disabled people to lead good lives, this does not appear to be happening. 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.


This project aims to use a ‘Capability Approach’ to explore how learning disabled people can be supported to lead flourishing lives. A Capability Approach highlights the importance of people being able to do the things they value which is the key to wellbeing but is rarely used in social care. This study will examine what enabling support looks like to those who receive social care and how it can be put into practice.


This project involves:

  • identifying components of good social care from existing literature to find out what good looks like
  • conducting focus groups and interviews with a diverse sample of learning disabled people and family carers to review these components using a Capability Approach and flexible methods to enable people to take part
  • working with providers to find out how good support can be delivered through a learning community of six teams of service providers, learning disabled people and co-applicants which will meet three times
  • producing a Flourishing Life Guide by bringing together study data
  • taking the Flourishing Life Guide on tour by a study team of learning disabled people and a researcher.