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Supporting older people with learning disabilities and their families
Supporting older people with learning disabilities and their families

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3 The Quilt of Excellence

A photograph of who people sitting outside doing yoga poses.

Our research project showed that there were three key elements to providing excellent care to older people with learning disabilities and behaviours that challenge others. These are:

  • Supporting people to live well: This includes things like having a good home, doing the things you love, and having positive relationships.
  • Supporting people to age well: This includes excellent care for the physical, mental, social and emotional changes related to ageing; and planning ahead – for ageing, and for end of life.
  • Creating a caring environment for all: this is about being in a nurturing environment where everyone (the person with learning disability, their family carers and practitioners) is cared for, and cared about. It is also an environment that empowers people to be involved in decisions about their life and protects their human rights.

We call these three key elements and the component parts (which can be many and varied), the quilt of excellence. This quilt is underpinned by a clear values base and strong, compassionate leadership.

Activity 4 What are the components of excellent care?

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch this short animation about the Quilt of Excellence.

As you watch, think about the following questions:

  1. What does living well mean to you?
  2. What does ageing well mean to you?
  3. Do you have experience of working in a nurturing and caring environment? If so, what made it feel this way? If the place(s) you have worked have not had a caring culture, what could have been better, and how?
Download this video clip.Video player: quilt_of_excellence_animation.mp4
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While the questions in this activity are highly personal and subjective, our research has shown that there are a number of key principles that underpin all excellent care for people with learning disabilities as they get older. If these elements have been missing from your practice, consider the reasons why. Within your role, what might you be able to do to help address this?

The Quilt of Excellence is a useful resource that reminds practitioners of the key issues they should be mindful of when working alongside a person with learning disabilities who is getting older. It is a prompt to services, practitioners and families to plan ahead and pre-empt the physical, mental, emotional and social changes that people are likely to experience as they age.