Skills for support: personal assistants and people with learning disabilities

Val Williams*, Lisa Ponting, Kerrie Ford, Philippa Rudge

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)


    For people with learning disabilities to have control over their lives, the quality of their support staff matters. This paper reports on an inclusive research study, which used video analysis to study the communication skills of personal assistants (PAs) who worked with people with learning disabilities. The findings reveal some of the fine detail in the strategies these PAs used, to show respect, support choices, and give advice. They were able to step back, to listen and observe the person with learning disabilities, and to use good, open body language. They also gave people time, built up a close relationship based on shared interests and activities, and they talked with people in a friendly, adult way. It is difficult to support people to manage their lives, and team work is important. People with learning disabilities also have to play their role in the relationship. This research produced training materials that will help people with learning disabilities to train and support their own PAs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)59-67
    Number of pages9
    JournalBritish Journal of Learning Disabilities
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


    • Communication
    • direct payments
    • inclusive research
    • learning disabilities
    • staff
    • STAFF


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