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Paving the Way

Early intervention for children with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge

Keeping in touch with home

posted on 19/07/16

The CBF and Mencap have published a new report based on research with families whose children are in residential placements. The report is the first time guidance has been issued on how residential settings should ensure parents can keep in touch with the thousands of children and young people with a learning disability who often live hundreds of miles from home.
The full report covers: 1) learning from families; 2) learning from local practice; 3) the legal framework. The executive summary and the full report are both available to download now.
A Family Carer perspective on the importance of keeping in touch with home:

“It’s not easy when you have to make the decision for your son or daughter to live away from home ­– and it doesn’t get any easier as the years pass.

“Our daughter is 28, has a severe learning disability and behaviour that can be challenging, and has been living away from home since she was 11. In that time she has lived in three different places – two in the UK, and one in the USA, as well as spending time in an assessment and treatment unit.

“Wherever a child goes, parents can experience an almost overwhelming feeling of being left shuffling on the sidelines. Many aspects of our sons’ and daughters’ lives, which we became used to taking care of, are now being looked after by someone else.

“Good staff will recognise the benefits to our sons and daughters, which result from keeping in touch with home. Our children may not always show how they feel in ways that are easy for us to understand, but we must not fall into the trap of assuming that they are not affected by separation.

“When staff, for whatever reason, do not promote the importance of family and home contact, alarm bells should ring. We have experienced being placed very firmly, not just on the sidelines, but virtually out of the picture altogether. When that happens, we must ask ourselves “What is the problem? What are they trying to hide?”

“Our daughter’s current support workers fully understand the importance of her keeping in touch with home, and they work to maintain that contact, calling or texting us regularly, even if just to offer reassurance. On occasions, they even come in on their days off, if they know we will be there.

“It can be no coincidence that she is so much happier, and more settled than she has been for a long time.”


This blog post is part of the ‘Keeping in Touch with Home Project’ from the Challenging Behaviour Foundation and Mencap. The project hopes to improve the support offered to families to help them keep in touch with children who are living away from home for a long period, and is funded by NHS England as part of the Transforming Care Programme.

Follow the links below to read the resources produced by the project:

Executive Summary – Keeping in Touch with Home

Keeping in Touch with Home (Full Resource)


  1. […] Keeping in touch with home: How to help children & young people with learning disabilities &… […]

    LD & Autism Update July, 29th 2016
  2. What a valuable and well-written resource. Thanks to all the families, settings and researchers involved – some really practical ideas for helping young people and families maintain and build those critical bonds that we all need.

    Kate Williams August, 16th 2016

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