Evaluation of personalised supports

Title: An evaluation of personalised supports to individuals with disabilities and mental health difficulties

Research team: Prof. Roy McConkey and colleagues, University of Ulster

Results: Summary report published October 2013. Full report published October 2013. A video, presentation and podcast are also available.


Internationally, increased attention is focused on the provision of personalised supports to people with disabilities and enduring illness. Personalised or individualised supports are those which address the unique needs of the individual focusing on their strengths and abilities, which are chosen by the person and which are delivered in the community fostering inclusion and participation. Recent Irish policy documents have also described and recommended a way of supporting people with disabilities which involves a reframing of provision from services towards individualised supports. The Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services recommends that the goal of full inclusion and self-determination for people with disabilities be pursued “through access to the individualised personal social supports and services needed to live a fully included life in the community.”

Aims of the evaluation

In this context this evaluation was concerned with identifying:

  1. The outcomes for people with disabilities and mental health difficulties receiving individualised supports; particularly on indicators of social inclusion and quality of life but also in relation to their individual aspirations, including assessing changes over time as people move from congregated settings to more personalised arrangements;
  2. The processes which have led to effective change and transition in terms of personal outcomes and the delivery of individualised supports;
  3. The direct costs of providing the personalised support for service users and how these costs have changed as a result of the changes in support provided;
  4. The implications for the further development of personalised services in an Irish service context.

Key findings

  • Personalisation produces better outcomes than congregated care;
  • Quality of Life improvements are evident for those who move from congregated care
  • The costs of personalised support and accommodation are considerably lower than those for people in congregated settings, even though some people in personalised arrangements have the highest costs within the sample
  • Group homes do not offer personalised accommodation or support – this has implications for how future deinstitutionalisation is carried out
  • Relatives initial concerns are often not borne out
  • Personalised housing and support options are feasible to implement in Ireland
  • This work takes time to get the optimum outcomes for individuals.

Follow-up study

A further data uplift by Prof. Roy McConkey and colleagues, University of Ulster (UU) is taking place on this study. This will enable the longer-term impact of a move to independent living to be established as well as the impact on those individuals who had only just moved at the end of the initial study.