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Those living with complex learning disabilities often need additional support and assistance with their day-to-day life.

At Lifeways, we offer both residential care and supported living options for people with complex needs, empowering individuals to lead happy, fulfilling, and more independent lives.

Both approaches are crucial in enabling people with complex learning disabilities to lead fulfilling lives with as much independence as possible.

What are complex learning disabilities?

Complex learning disabilities refer to a range of difficulties that affect the way a person understands, processes, and retains information. 

These disabilities often involve multiple areas of brain function and may manifest as a combination of intellectual, sensory, motor, and emotional or behavioural challenges. 

For example, a person might experience difficulties with language processing, memory, attention, problem-solving, and social interaction simultaneously. This complexity can make learning, communication, and everyday functioning extremely testing. 

Individuals with complex learning disabilities might also have additional neurological or developmental conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder or ADHD.

Complex learning disabilities in adults 

Complex learning disabilities in adults are often multi-faceted and can significantly impact various aspects of an individual's life, including education, employment, social interactions, and daily living skills. These disabilities continue from childhood into adulthood, but the challenges may evolve over time. 

Adults with complex learning disabilities may face difficulties in processing and retaining new information, problem-solving, organising tasks, and communicating effectively with others. We work with individuals on their gifts and talents - focussing on their strengths, and helping them to harness them.

Karen Roberts, Lifeways’ Group Head of Health and Clinical Governance chatted to us on an episode of ‘Yes to You’ - the Lifeways social care podcast, about supporting people living with multiple complex needs.

“Complex needs can mean a number of things. It could be people who display behaviours, but it also means people who’ve got complex health needs. 

They could have diabetes, they could have epilepsy. So we support them with a range of needs. So they often have a primary diagnosis which could be learning disabilities, mental health, acquired brain injury and then they have a number of other associated conditions or diseases with that condition.”

Residential care for people living with complex learning disabilities 

Residential care is suitable for adults who require daily support for their complex conditions. Both accommodation and 24/7 support are provided as part of residential care, with specially adapted locations that create safe and welcoming environments. 

Residential locations tend to be communal-living homes, with a team of staff on hand to support all of the residents and their support needs. Each person will have their own bedroom (and often an ensuite bathroom), and will share the communal areas of the property, such as the kitchen, dining, and living room with the other residents. This arrangement ensures each individual has their own privacy when they need it, whilst also providing the opportunity to socialise and spend time with others.

Having a specialist team available 24/7 means individuals always have the right level of support to suit their needs. The type of support provided will vary from person to person, but can include everyday tasks such as personal care, taking medication, and help with household chores, through to empowering people to enjoy their favourite hobbies, activities, and spending more time in their local community.

As Tracy Halford, manager of one of our residential care locations explains, “We start by finding out what a person’s skill base is, what they want to do in the future, and what skills they want to learn. Some people might need help with their social skills, some with budgeting. It’s finding out what they want to do, and how we’re going to get them there - and our support is always bespoke to each individual”.

The communal-living style of accommodation brings benefits too, as it means there’s always like-minded people around to spend quality time with. We see lots of friendships and confidence grow at Lifeways, with the people we support enjoying time together with shared interests and day trips. 

Read Paul and Julian’s story to see how a shared love of gardening has created a blossoming friendship.

Supported living for people living with complex learning disabilities 

Supported living is a good option for those living with complex conditions, but who would prefer the privacy of their own homes in the community, whilst being supported to increase or maintain their level of independence.

Supported living can help individuals to boost their confidence, as they’re empowered to enjoy hobbies and activities, whilst making their own choices and decisions. 

As is the case with residential care, those in supported living have the emotional and physical support on hand, whenever it is needed.

How do we care for people with complex learning disabilities?

At Lifeways, the level of support we offer is tailored to each individual depending on their unique needs and ambitions.

Whether residential care or supported living is more suited to an individual, our person-centred support ensures everyone has the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life, learning new skills, making new friends and increasing independence. 

Assistive technology plays a big part in supporting those with additional needs. Some of our accommodations are fitted with specialist technology to enable individuals to remain independent and safe. These can include automatic lights and smart technology to help with switching off cookers, managing security, and maintaining bills for electricity and gas.

Our support workers have also recently switched to a digitalised care management system called Nourish, which provides colleagues with a central place to record care and support, whilst providing access to critical information on the go, removing paperwork from our services and freeing up our teams to do what they do best- delivering exceptional support.

Tom’s story - life in supported living

Tom had always wanted to experience supported living, and so when an opportunity came up with Lifeways, he was very excited to move in.

“When I was given the keys for the first time, it’s like I was in a different world. I finally believed I was doing it. I had the keys to my own home,” he said. “My life has changed in so many ways I didn’t expect.”

Tom's Story from The Lifeways Group on Vimeo.

How can Lifeways support people living with complex learning disabilities?

We work with landlords to ensure that each of our homes have been carefully designed to keep the people we support safe and comfortable whilst helping them to build new skills. This includes things like ceiling track hoists, wet rooms, sensory rooms and accessible access.

Here at Lifeways, we have residential care and supported living locations across the UK in the heart of communities, both in city and rural settings. 

We understand how important it is to choose the right location, and so as part of the move-in process we encourage visits to look around potential options and to meet the team and current residents.

If you think residential care or supported living could be right for your loved one, you will need to first get in touch with your local authority who will carry out an assessment to determine if residential care is the most suitable option.

If you’d like to learn more about the support Lifeways can provide, please get in touch today and one of our friendly team members will be happy to help.

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