Active Support Project: 2012-2015

Creating an Ordinary Life Project 2012-2015, funded by the Department of Health

ARC’s successful three year Project in England, Creating an Ordinary Life, to support member organisations to embed Active Support within their Services took place 2012-2015. The message about Active Support is still loud and clear: People can be supported to take part in their own lives more, with just the right amount of support to achieve successful outcomes.

Active Support is an evidence based model of support that increases participation in everyday life for people with learning disabilities, at home and in the community. There is a considerable amount of evidence that shows that where Active Support is embedded within a service it has effectively increased the quality of support provided by staff, to people with moderate to severe learning disabilities, enabling a person to have a better quality of life. People are supported to take part in their own lives with just the right amount of support to achieve successful outcomes.

During this three year Project we have worked with 30 ARC Members and 480 staff, who have directly or indirectly, supported over 240 service users to take part more in their own lives. We provided five days support to each service, which included Active Support training and on-site Interactive Training, as well as support with outcome monitoring and evaluation.

The main aim of the ‘Creating an Ordinary Life’ Project was:

To focus on improving the quality of support for people with learning disabilities, working with the individual and support staff to deliver a more person-centred approach to living more independently.

There have been some significant changes in people’s lives. The latest newsletter articles (downloadable below) shows just how profound some of those changes have been:

  • Reductions in behaviour that is challenging
  • People developing new skills by taking part in routine activities
  • People being supported to maintain current skills
  • People with complex and profound learning disabilities being supported to be involved in their own lives

Services have also reported on improvement in health:

  • Weight loss
  • Reduction in the intake of alcohol
  • Reduction in smoking Improvement in mental health
  • Reduction in medication for mental health
  • Improvement in oral hygiene

The training and support from the project has enabled teams to review their support methods and look at what a person is doing, can do and with the right support, needs to do.

Creating an Ordinary Life Project outcomes:

Creating an Ordinary Life e-Newsletters:

We produce newsletters for our members with updates about the project which can be downloaded here:




Active Support Project: 2018

Active Support Project, 2018, Funded by Skills for Care's Workforce Development Innovation Fund

Following our Active Support project in 2018, funded by Skills for Care’s Workforce Development Innovation Fund, we are pleased to share the resources which were produced for organisations to download and use to help learn more about Active Support and things to think about when embedding Active Support within services.

Click on the image to download the Information Resource and Learning Pack.


Active Support Project: 2005-2009

Driven by example and effective leadership ARC Cymru 2005

A 3 year Big Lottery funded Project for a programme of support which enables people with learning disabilities, autism and/or behaviour that challenges to be supported to be more included in their own lives.

People with severe and profound learning disabilities are often excluded from programmes and projects designed to increase the independence and community involvement of people with a learning disability. Pump priming money has tended to be used for ‘quick win’ projects with people who have mild to moderate learning disabilities with the expectation that service providers will later move on to helping ‘the hardest cases’.

Welsh Assembly Government policy documents (‘Service Principles, Service Responses’ and ‘Person Centred Approaches to Planning’, [2004], and consultation by the self advocacy organisation All Wales People First demonstrated that people with severe and profound learning disabilities were not benefiting from greater independence or the degree of participation in everyday life that most of us take for granted.

We became aware of Active Support, a method of support designed by the Welsh Centre for Learning Disabilities in the 1980’s, and saw that it was an effective, proven method of reaching people with severe learning disabilities and increasing their potential to have an ordinary life.

In 2004 a pilot workshop was delivered by former ARC Cymru Committee members Karen Wakelin and Debbie Edwards to ascertain the interest among Welsh organisations in exploring the Active Support model further. The workshop was well attended with many representatives from most of the major voluntary organisations across Wales. The feedback was that the interest was there, but there was no coordination, access to training and support and no strategy for bringing about a wide-scale implementation of the model.

ARC Cymru approached the Big Lottery Fund with a proposal for a 3-year funded project to increase the participation in everyday life of 140 people with severe and profound learning disabilities around Wales by offering staff training and ongoing support to 35 service settings so that they could develop specifically tailored services. We also proposed to include eight people with moderate learning disabilities to help us with the project evaluation.

Project supported members in Cymru by:

  • Offering presentations to organisations on how Active Support promotes staff engagement with people with intellectual disabilities to ensure people are more engaged in their own lives.
  • By promoting Active Support and protocols organisations would be able to monitor achievement of outcomes and evaluate achievement of person-centred plans.
  • Demonstrate how coaching and mentoring by service managers dramatically increase staff and client engagement.
  • Consider all current training programmes and professional development strategies were linking together.
  • Training to introduce staff to what Active Support is and what it looks like in practice.
  • Training for managers in how they need to be able to practice manage their team to deliver Active Support on a day to day basis and evaluate and review support.
  • Develop an Active Support e-forum for organisational support.
  • Produce a training DVD which supported Active Support training.

The Active Support Handbook is for supporting people with learning disabilities to lead full lives.

ARC Cymru and the Authors of the Active Support Handbook updated the original 6 booklets to create a useful Handbook.

Active Support is proven to improve the lives of service users, making it easier to live independently and have greater quality of life.

Active Support Handbook is organised into four sections:

  • Part One: An Overview – This looks at what Active Support is, how to implement it and why it is so important.
  • Part Two: Interacting to Promote Participation – This looks at supporting engagement, dealing with problems and thinking in steps.
  • Part Three: Activity Support Plans – This part details what an activity support plan is, how it can be used, keeping track of these plans and administration.
  • Part Four: Maintaining Quality – This looks at working as a team, being consistent, positive managerial support, using the information recorded and quality assurance.

The Active Support Handbook is a useful resource for anyone supporting people in an adult social care setting.

Active Support works well alongside other approaches such as:

  • Person-centred plans
  • Opportunity or Learning Plans
  • Positive Behavioural Support
  • Communication plans

Active Support is designed to make sure that people who need support have the chance to be fully involved in their lives and receive the right range and level of support to be successful. The Active Support Handbook is an invaluable guide for any support organisation.

Download the Active Support Handbook here

ARC Active Support Network Newsletters 2008-2009


In 2009 due to the success of the initial project the Active Support Service was developed and has now been expanded and is being offered as a service to include the whole of the UK.

Active Support is a method of supporting someone to be engaged, take part and be included in everyday activities and relationships that make up day-to-day living. Staff teams learn how to work as a team in a person-centred way by giving just the right amount of support each individual needs.

Through this project, ARC offered training to staff on using Active Support in the following ways:

  • Using ordinary every day activities to encourage choice and engagement, and to increase independence.
  • Instead of doing things for people or to people, working with people with learning disabilities so they can take part in all the activities of everyday life, no matter how disabled they are.
  • Support people with learning disabilities to plan the best use of their time, with the correct level of support, to engage or participate in all activities that make up day-to-day living.

Active Support training and consultancy is now available across the UK.

ARC launched the Active Support Service in England and the rest of the UK at the end of August 2009. We held several Active Support Training events which included training to staff teams as well as presentations, and these continue today.

For information about our Active Support Training and Practice Leadership please contact us at [email protected] or visit our Active Support training pages here.

The Active Support project in Wales was funded by the Big Lottery fund.

Active Support Resource - Close to Home published 1988

Active Support is a global phenomenon. Nowadays, one can find evidence of Active Support being implemented in the UK, Ireland, in Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, and parts of the USA.

But, did you know that Active Support originated over 30 years ago in a small Hampshire town, when a small group of researchers began planning the Andover Project?

Since then, these same researchers and others have described, discussed, filmed, evaluated, analysed, and disseminated Active Support.

In 1988, BILD published a book by David Felce and Sandy Toogood called Close to Home. This book is different to anything else written on Active Support.

It told the story of nine people, all of whom lived for a part of their life in one of England’s first small community homes for people with severe intellectual disability. These were the first individuals ever to benefit from Active Support, before deinstitutionalisation, before normalisation theory, before the five accomplishments, before person-centred planning. A few years ago, the book went out of print and was destined no longer to be available to a broad readership.

ARC is delighted to be able to make the text of the book available for download in PDF. This is what Active Support is all about.

These are the stories behind the research statistics. The issues, ideas and commitment expressed in the lives of those who lived in this early small community home are as fresh and vivid as ever.

The chapters of the book Close to Home are available to download here: