Active Support resources

The following books, reports and resources have been collated from various sources, authors and organisations. We would like to acknowledge United Response [external] for contributing their resources.

Every moment has potential – online learning resource

Prof Christine Bigby, Dr Emma Bould, Silvia Warren, Prue Adams, Arna Radovich, Department of Industry, Greystanes Disability Services, Living with Disability Research Group at La Trobe University.

Every moment has potential is an online learning resource that provides an introduction to Person Centred Active Support - a way of working that enables everyone, no matter what their level of intellectual or physical disability, to make choices and participate in meaningful activities and social relationships.

This online learning resource is based on research undertaken by many researchers in the UK and Australia including the late Professor Jim Mansell and Dr Julie Beadle-Brown, Professor Christine Bigby and Dr Emma Bould. The resource was funded by the Australian Government Department of Industry. It is a collaboration between Greystanes Disability Services and the Living with Disability Research Centre at La Trobe University. It was developed with input from a wide range of stakeholders, including Western Sydney Institute of TAFE NSW and an Industry Reference Group and Steering Committee. Click here to see full credits online [external].

Developing and maintaining person centred active support: A demonstration project in supported accommodation for people with neurotrauma.

This project aimed to explore the applicability of Active Support in supported accommodation services for people with neurotrauma, and the effectiveness of this model of staff practice in improving quality of life outcomes for this group. It is an initial step in building an evidence base about the types of staff practices, team work, and practice leadership that contribute to good quality of life outcomes for people with neurotrauma living in supported accommodation. The key research questions were, 1) Is Active Support applicable as a staff practice with people with high and complex needs following neurotrauma? 2) Can Active Support be implemented in supported accommodation services for people with high and complex needs following neurotrauma? 3) What factors influence the adoption and embedding of Active Support in these settings?

Suggested Citation Bigby, C., Douglas, J., & Bould, E. (2018). Developing and maintaining person centred active support: A  demonstration project in supported accommodation for people with neurotrauma. LaTrobe Living with Disability Research Centre.

Active Support Guide: An essential component of the way we work

This 12-page guide outlines the importance of the Active Support approach as part of person centred support via tips and case studies.

This guide describes why active support is fundamental for all the people we support. It details the essential components and strategies that must be in place to ensure support is well-organised, effective and truly meeting the needs of the individual.

We would like to acknowledge United Response UK and the Tizard Centre for sharing their resource.

Active Support: Enabling and Empowering People with Intellectual Disabilities

Jim Mansell and Julie Beadle-Brown

Active Support is a proven model of care that enables and empowers people with intellectual disabilities to participate in all aspects of their lives. This evidence-based approach is particularly effective for working with people with more severe disabilities, and is of growing interest to those responsible for providing support and services.

Suggested Citation:
Mansell, J. & Beadle-Brown, J. (2012). Active Support. Enabling and Empowering People with Intellectual Disabilities. London, Jessica Kingsley


Person-centred active support: A handbook

Bev Ashman, John Ockenden, Julie Beadle-Brown & Jim Mansell

This handbook provides information and guidance on implementing person-centred active support. It can be used to support the multimedia training resource of the same name, or it can be read independently. Utilising examples, tools and experiences from a range of organisations and services, it provides the reader with additional information on a range of implementation issues. It also provides examples and suggestions to help successfully support people to participate in meaningful activities and relationships.

Suggested Citation:
Ashman, B., Ockenden, J., Beadle-Brown, J. & Mansell, J. (2010).  Person-centred active support: A handbook. Brighton, UK: Pavilion Publishing.

We would like to acknowledge United Response UK for sharing their resources. To view more resources visit United Response UK [external].

Practice leadership booklet

Achieving active support requires front line managers (practice leaders) to turn the theory of these approaches into practice and to support staff to implement them consistently. This resource is a tool for guide practice leaders in their role, to implement and maintain active support in all workplace practice.

We would like to acknowledge United Response UK for sharing their resources. To view more resources visit United Response UK [external].

Group Homes for People with Intellectual Disabilities Encouraging Inclusion and Participation

Tim Clement and Prof Christine Bigby

This book paints a picture of life in group homes today. The authors propose a framework for increasing community presence and participation, and consider the barriers to be overcome in achieving these key goals. Topics include the notion of 'homeliness', maintaining a balance between individual and group needs and practice leadership.

Suggested Citation:
Clement, T. & Bigby, C. (2010). Group Homes for People with Intellectual Disabilities Encouraging Inclusion and Participation. London, Jessica Kingsley

Positive Behaviour Support and Active Support:Essential elements for achieving real change in services for people whose behaviour is described as challenging

John Ockenden (United Response) with assistance from Bev Ashman (United Response), Julie Beadle-Brown (Tizard Centre, University of Kent) and Andrea Wiggins (The Avenues Group).

This booklet highlights the extent to which the methods of Person Centred Active Support underpin the effective implementation of positive behaviour support. It also provides tips on what to look for when commissioning services for people with learning disabilities.

Suggested Citation:
Ockenden, J., Ashman, B., Beadle-Brown, J. & Wiggins, A. (Clement, T. & Bigby, C. (2010). Positive Behaviour Support and Active Support: Essential elements for achieve real change in services for people whose behaviour is described as challenging. United Response & Tizard Centre: United Kingdom.

Guide to Visiting and Good Group Homes

Prof Christine Bigby and Dr Emma Bould

The Guide to Visiting and Good Group Homes was based on research evidence to describe what a good group home for people with more severe levels of intellectual disability looks like, what you should expect to see and hear if residents are experiencing a good quality of life. Written in collaboration with The Office of the Public Advocate (Victoria), this guide was based on research and written for Community Visitors who visit and report of the quality of life of people living in supported and group accommodation.

Suggested Citation:
Bigby, C., & Bould, E. (2014). Guide to Visiting and Good Group Homes. Melbourne: Living with Disability Research Group, La Trobe University.


Published articles

Christine Bigby, Emma Bould, Teresa Iacono & Julie Beadle-Brown

There is strong evidence about the effectiveness of Active Support. Recent research has established predictors of good Active Support as staff training, practice leadership, and service setting size. This paper explores features of organisational leadership and structures predictive of Active Support. Multilevel modelling with data from surveys, observations and interviews was used to identify predictors of Active Support at the levels of service users (n = 253), services (n = 71) and organisations (n = 14). Good Active Support was predicted by: (1) positive staff perceptions of management, (2) prioritisation of practice and Active Support by senior managers, (3) strong management support for practice leadership, (4) organisation of practice leadership close to everyday service delivery, and (5) concentration of practice leadership with frontline management. These findings extend understanding of predictors of Active Support and provide indicators of service quality, with important implications for service providers, service users and those monitoring the quality of services.

Quality of practice in supported accommodation services for people with intellectual disabilities: What matters at the organisational level

Christine Bigby, Emma Bould, Teresa Iacono & Julie Beadle-Brown

Organisational and service level factors are identified as influencing the implementation of Active Support. The aim of this article was to explore differences in organisational leadership and structures to identify potential relationships between these factors and the quality of Active Support in supported accommodation services. Fourteen organisations participated in this mixed methods study, which generated data from interviews with senior leaders, document reviews and observations of the quality of Active Support. Qualitative analyses revealed three conceptual categories: senior leaders in organisations where at least 71% of services delivered good Active Support prioritised practice; understood Active Support; and strongly supported practice leadership. In these organisations practice leadership was structured close to everyday service delivery, and as part of frontline management. Patterns of coherent values, priorities and actions about practice demonstrated by senior leaders were associated with successful implementation of Active Support, rather than documented values in organisational policy or procedures.

Factors associated with increases over time in the quality of Active T Support in supported accommodation services for people with intellectual disabilities: A multi-level model

Christine Bigby, Emma Bould, Teresa Iacono & Julie Beadle-Brown

Disability support organisations have embraced Active Support, but it has proved difficult to embed in services. This study aimed to identify the factors associated with increases over time in the quality of Active Support. Data were collected on the predicted variable of the quality of Active Support, and predictor variables of service user, staff and service characteristics, including practice leadership, and composition and size of services from 51 services in 8 organisations over 2–7 time points. Data were analysed using multi-level modelling. There was significant linear change in Active Support scores (group mean centred at the organisational level) over time. Individuals with lower support needs received better Active Support and those with higher support needs experienced greater increases over time. Stronger practice leadership and more staff with training in Active Support were significant predictors of the quality of Active Support. Larger services with seven or more individuals and where there was a very heterogeneous mix of individuals were associated with lower quality of support. Ensuring strong practice leadership, and staff training in Active Support that emphasises the principle of adapting support to each individual’s level of ability and preferences are key to delivering high levels of Active Support.

Factors that predict good Active Support in services for people with intellectual disabilities: A multilevel model

Emma Bould, Christine Bigby, Teresa Iacono & Julie Beadle-Brown

Active Support, now widely adopted by disability support organizations, is difficult to implement. The aim of this article was to identify the factors associated with good Active Support. Data on service user and staff characteristics, quality of Active Support and practice leadership were collected from a sample of services from 14 organizations annually for between 2 and 7 years, using questionnaires, structured observations and interviews. Data were analysed using multilevel modelling (MLM). Predictors of good Active Support were adaptive behaviour, practice leader‐ ship, Active Support training, and time since its implementation. Heterogeneity, having more than six people in a service and larger organizations were associated with lower quality of Active Support. In order to ensure that Active Support is consistently implemented, and thus, quality of life outcomes improved, organizations need to pay attention to both service design and support for staff through training and practice leadership.

Development and psychometric evaluation of the Group Home Culture Scale

Lincoln Humphreys, Christine Bigby, Teresa Iacono & Emma Bould

Organizational culture in group homes for people with intellectual disabilities has been identified as influencing staff behaviour and residents’ quality of life (QOL). Despite this influence, culture has been under‐researched, with no published and validated instrument to measure its dimensions in group homes. The aim was to develop such a measure. The Group Home Culture Scale (GHCS) was developed using a theory‐driven approach. Items were generated from the research literature, which were reviewed by experts and tested in cognitive interviews. Data from 343 front‐line staff were used for exploratory factor analysis.The content and face validity of the GHCS were found to be acceptable. Exploratory factor analysis indicated that the GHCS measured seven dimensions of group home culture. Cronbach's alpha for the dimensions ranged from 0.81 to 0.92. The GHCS has potential use in research to determine whether dimensions of group home culture predict the quality of staff support and residents’ QOL.

Identifying good group homes: Qualitative indicators using a quality of life framework

Christine Bigby, Marie Knox, Julie Beadle-Brown, and Emma Bould

This article explores the conceptualization of good outcomes and support for this group in terms of their quality of life and staff practices. Drawing on in-depth qualitative analysis of participant observations conducted over 9–12 months in seven group homes for 21 people with a severe and profound level of intellectual disability.

Observing practice leadership in intellectual and developmental disability services

Julie Beadle-Brown, Christine Bigby & Emma Bould

Improving staff performance is an issue in services for people with intellectual disability. Practice leadership, where the front line leader of a staff team focuses on service user outcomes in everything they do and provides coaching, modelling, supervision and organisation to the team, has been identified as important in improving staff performance. To date this finding is based only on self-report measures. This paper describes and tests an observational measure of practice leadership based on an interview with the front-line manager, a review of paperwork and observations in 58 disability services in Australia.

‘We just call them people’: Positive regard as a dimension of culture in group homes for people with severe intellectual disability

Christine Bigby, Marie Knox, Julie Beadle-Brown & Tim Clement

A dimension of the culture in group homes is staff regard for residents. Three in-depth qualitative case studies were conducted in higher performing group homes using participant observation, interviews and document review to measure a hypothesis that higher performing group homes, would have staff regard residents positively.

Person-centred active support – increasing choice, promoting independence and reducing challenging behaviour

Julie Beadle-Brown, Aislinn Hutchinson & Beckie Whelton

Previous research has found that active support is effective at increasing levels of participation in activities and supporting a good quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities. However, there has been little research on the effect of active support on other outcome measures. This study uses observational methodology, combined with staff-rated measures, to explore the impact of the implementation of person-centred active support on the lives of 30 people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities living in small group homes.

Culture in better group homes for people with severe and profound intellectual disability

Christine Bigby & Julie Beadle-Brown

Building on cultural dimensions of underperforming group homes this study analyses culture in better performing services. In depth qualitative case studies were conducted in 3 better group homes using participant observation and interviews. The culture in these homes, reflected in patterns of staff practice and talk, as well as artefacts differed from that found in underperforming services. Though it is unclear whether good group homes have a similar culture to better ones the insights from this study provide knowledge to guide service development and evaluation.

The role of practice leadership in active support: impact of practice leaders’ presence in supported accommodation services

Emma Bould, Julie Beadle-Brown, Christine Bigby &Teresa Iacono

The aim of the study was to explore differences in staff practice, associated with the presence of a practice leader in a shared supported accommodation service. Data from observations was collated from 58 services, involving 189 service users with intellectual disability including an Observation Measure of Practice Leadership being administered during the second visit.

Implementation of active support in Victoria, Australia: An exploratory study

Jim Mansell, Julie Beadle-Brown & Christine Bigby

This study explored resident characteristics of the people supported by organisations implementing active support, the provision of active support, its procedures and systems, and resident engagement in meaningful activity and relationships. Information was collected through questionnaires and direct observation of 33 group homes from 6 organisations in Victoria, Australia, with a 5–10-year history of implementing active support.

The effect of active support training on engagement, opportunities for choice, challenging behaviour and support needs

Stella Koritsas, Teresa Iacono, David Hamilton & Daniel Leighton

The aim of this study was to evaluate active support training and to investigate changes to perceived engagement in domestic tasks, opportunities for choice, frequency of challenging behaviour, and level of support needs. Data was collected through assessments completed on three occasions (at baseline, post-training, and at follow-up) by support workers from three group homes.

REVIEW: Every moment has potential: Person-centred active support online learning resource

Developed by Greystanes Disability Services and La Trobe University Available at no charge from Active Support Resource [external]

Lisa Hamilton