Community-based day services for adults with intellectual disabilities in the UK: a review and discussion

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    Recent policy statements about services for adults with intellectual disabilities in the UK have pushed for a reoriented day services model. However, there is comparatively little research into new models of day service provision. Drawing on the findings of an evaluation of a “dispersed” or “center-less” service, the author discusses the potential contribution such services might play. These findings showed that services based on accessing mainstream community amenities and facilities, rather than scheduled attendance at special day services centers, are popular with service users, staff, and parents. However, such conclusions can mask longer-term and deeper tensions and problems. One notable feature is a failure to articulate clearly specific objectives for individuals and for the service. This elasticity and multiplicity of aims is what allows different constituent parties to appear to concur in their evaluations when in fact they have altogether different registers of success. These and a number of other questions are raised and need to be addressed before any further expansion of dispersed services is considered, such as their contribution to social inclusion and potential longer-term implications—running out of new activities, boredom, and so forth. More significant is the question of the symbolic role day services centers played as a physical and fiscal commitment to public service provision. There are reasons to suspect that an increased shift toward dispersed services may lead to a declining commitment by local authorities to provide for others than those persons with severe or complex disabilities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)235-240
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • Community-based services
    • Day services
    • Dispersal
    • Intellectual disabilities
    • Social inclusion


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