The word “inclusion” in the context of social care refers to the rights of all individuals, despite their disabilities or care and support needs to be included, respected, and valued within their communities. People with disabilities may need support to fully participate in their communities. This support can range from day services to supported independent living services to a long-term support setting. To ensure individuals get meaningful participation and fulfilment in their lives, it is important to continuously acknowledge and innovate. The significance of the inclusion of parents, family, and circles of support in an individual’s care is often overlooked.

Life, fears, and hopes of parent of a child with learning disabilities.

The life of a parent or family of a person with learning disabilities is not without its challenges. In a support group run by the National Disability Authority in Sligo, Ireland, parents described a life of hard work, fear, despair, anger, and isolation mixed with feelings of hope, love, and acceptance. Along with this, there were feelings of isolation and abandonment, despite care and support services provided to their child with learning disabilities. An over arching fear of what would happen to their child when they died was prominent, even though most of the parents were still relatively young. Most parents recognised government initiatives for person-centred planning and felt that it sounded wonderful but that created plans were rarely observed. Person centred plans seemed to only get the recognition of the family because within care and support services, staff did not have the capacity to acknowledge the plans. Dependent on the level of disability experienced by their child, parents had varying levels of hope for their children to be supported to live independent lives. When questioned further on what “independent living” meant for their children, most parents believed it should be more meaningful than just catering to a person’s basic needs and should be concerned with a person’s overall quality of life such as life goals and engagement in the community.

How can technology help?

Over the last year, technology has played a major role in keeping everyone included in their local communities. From the Zoom coffee catch up to online community meetings, software applications have allowed many elements of life to continue in unprecedented circumstances. Care Management Software has allowed for care and support organisations to go digital over the last decade. Care notes, support tasks, staff monitoring, and reporting can all be accessed securely online. The move of person-centred support plans to online electronic planning systems has also allowed for live recording of a person’s goals and outcomes. Progress can be tracked and monitored for improvement from a staff and manager level. Person portals have allowed for people supported to be kept at the centre of their care and support. This encourages supported independent living and allows people supported to have a say in their life goals. Families and circles of support can also have access to these online plans through the person portal allowing them to be involved in the achievement of these goals. Online Planning systems could be the answer to staff shortages, feelings of isolation and other obstacles to supporting individuals with learning disabilities to live their life to the fullest.

To see how iplanit care management can help with your organisation’s inclusion goals, find out more information here.

Siobhán graduated with a degree in Neuroscience in 2015 and since then has built up experience in science, healthcare, and technology. She divides her time between a range of marketing activities for Aspirico while also performing as a quality assurance engineer for the development team to test new releases of iplanit software.