How Wellbeing Teams could support young people with learning disabilities and their families

A conversation with Denise, opened my eyes to other ways that Wellbeing Teams could work. Denise is a family leader and I was trying to see if I could help her with recruiting  Personal Assistants for her two sons. She is innovative and well informed, and had tried many of the ideas I suggested, but was willing to try a few more. You can hear her talk about it in our podcast, and it is clear how hard it is for families who end up being care-coordinators, and team managers when they simply want to be parents.

So could Wellbeing Teams help? This means that the young person’s support would be organised and delivered by a provider (Wellbeing Teams), through small, self-organised teams, in partnership with Community Circles. Wellbeing Teams therefore bring together paid support (co-ordinated by the Wellbeing Leader) with support from family, friends and the community (co-ordinated through a Community Circle) to ensure that the young person and their family get the support they want and need to move towards their aspirations. Young people and families have the same control that they would have if they wanted to recruit Personal Assistants (P.As) but without the administration and management responsibilities.

I asked my colleague Ben to help me think about how Wellbeing Teams could support families and young people with SEND as they move into adulthood. We started to think about how Wellbeing Teams could support young people whilst they live at home, as Denises’ sons do, and also support young people to find a place of their own, contribute to opportunities for employment or volunteering, enable them to be connected and part of their community, and provide support for good health.



Wellbeing Teams for young people

A Wellbeing Team is a small, flexible, neighbourhood team of support workers, together with a Community Circle Connector. The Wellbeing Leader would support the team and work with the family and young person to ensure that they get the support they want and need to move towards their aspirations.

In Wellbeing Teams we use a values based appraoch to recruitment, and the young person and their family could be involved as much or as little as they wanted throughout the recruitment process. Last week we recruited colleagues to join the Wellbeing Team in Wigan, with our co-production partner was a carer called Helen, whose partner had been supported by home carers in Wigan. Helen welcomes people as they arrived, was an equal partner in reviewing how candidates fulfilled the tasks, and an equal partner in decision making. In recruiting with a young person and their family, the process would be co-designed with them to reflect best practice in recruitment and the involvement that they wanted to have – ensuring that they are central to the final decisions.

Once the team is in place, the Wellbeing Leader would work with the young person and family to ensure that the support works for them. In Wellbeing Teams we pay a lot of attention to the wellbeing of the worker as well as the person they support, we hope that team members are more likely be happy, enthusiastic and motivated in their role. If a Wellbeing Team was supporting Denise’s sons, she would be freed from any concerns about schedules, about supervision, about problem-solving, about sickness – instead, the Wellbeing Leader would work with the team to ensure that everything works for the young person and their family.

We are working with young people and families in the North East to further develop these ideas, and to test what they look like in practice, and what could be affordable. This blog is an overview of our thinking so far. We think that support from a Wellbeing Team and Community Circle could start at the Year Nine Review, provide support whilst the young person is at school or college, or after eighteen, to find a new place to live and be supported there, and to be supported into work or volunteering.

Starting from the Year Nine, Preparing for Adulthood review

The idea of Community Circles could be introduced at Year Nine Review at school. This could simply be to give the young person and their family a leaflet and information about Community Circles and introduce the local Community Circle Connector. If the family wanted to, a Community Circle could start here, supporting the young person and the family as they explore the options ahead, or at any time leading up to leaving school, and through moving to college.  The idea of support from a Wellbeing Team  could be introduced at any time. If the young person has a direct payment for support, they this could be used to employ a Wellbeing Worker. The Wellbeing Leader would co-ordinate the recruitment with the young person and family.

As the young person becomes 18

The young person’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is reviewed every 12 months (or sooner if required) as they approach the age of 18. At an appropriate time prior to the young person’s 18th birthday the social worker usually completes a transition assessment to identify the young person’s outcomes and determine whether they are eligible to receive a personal budget from adult social care when they reach the age of 18. If they are eligible for a personal budget then the Community Circle Connector, the Circle (if there is one in place) and the Wellbeing Leader would work with the family and young person to co-design in detail the support that the young person would need to achieve their outcomes. This would take account of what matters to the young person about the hobbies or interests they would like to pursue, priorities around employment or volunteering and friendships and relationships they want to make or maintain. It would also take account of what’s needed to keep them safe and well and take into account the needs of parents, carers or other family members too, including any breaks and holidays. This would be done in partnership with the Multi Disciplinary Team (MDT), and could be part of EHC plans. There are innovative approaches that could be used, for example, Planning Live, to co-design the personalised care and support and contribute to the EHC plan.

This planning would result in the information required to employ the right team of Wellbeing Workers to deliver exactly what is needed, when it is needed, within the budget. This could be to support the young person whilst still living at home, or to support them to find and be supported in their own home.

Supporting young people living at home

Where the young person is going to stay living at home, the planning process would identify an ‘ideal’ or perfect week. This takes into account what the family needs as well as the young person’s lifestyle and outcomes. Wellbeing Teams use a process called The Support Sequence to ensure that all options are considered when we look together at how to support someone to achieve their outcomes. It is a community, asset-based approach that starts with what people can do, and what they have already, as well as their connections and community. Wellbeing Teams also take into account the possibilities in using technology to help people achieve their outcomes and aspirations, or be supported to be safe and healthy (for example wearable technology for health and fitness, or using Skype to keep in touch).

The perfect week also helps identify where support from a Wellbeing Team would be needed, and from this the Wellbeing Leader can specify exactly what support is required (for example, support to find work or volunteering opportunities, meeting people and getting out and about, or support with personal care) how many Wellbeing Workers would be required within the team, what skills and interests they would need, and when they would be needed. This could include a range of different roles, for example job coaches.

Once the team is in place, the family, young person and Circle meet every 4 – 6 weeks to review what is working and not working, and what they want to change or do in the next few months. This person-centred review, means that everyone is involved in continually shaping the support so that is fits with exactly what the young person and family want and need.

Supporting young people to find and live in their own home

If the young person wants to leave home, then, after a transition assessment to identify whether the young person is eligible for a personal budget, the social worker and MD Team would develop a housing plan.

The Community Circle Connector, the Circle (if there is one in place) and the Wellbeing Leader could work with the family, young person and MD Team to co-design in detail what kind of home the young person wants, and what they want their life to be like when they live there, within the identified budget.

This would take into account what matters to the young person and their priorities for a home of their own, decisions such as the location, choosing to live in a flat or a house, whether they would like to share a home or live on their own. The plan would also identify what is needed to keep the person safe and well, what good support looks like and how this will be provided. The Wellbeing Leader would work closely with the young person, their family and the MD Team and once these decisions have been made, the process of securing the new home, and recruiting the young person’s Wellbeing Team would start. If a Community Circle was not already in place, the Community Circle Connector would explore with the young person whether they want to start their Circle straight away or later when they are established in their new home.

When the person has their new home, the Wellbeing Team, and Circle would work together to help them explore their local area, meet people and settle in. As described earlier, the Wellbeing Team and the Circle would keep working with the young person and family to refine their ideal week, keep moving towards their aspirations, and review what is working and not working every 4 – 6 weeks.

What next?

We want to provide support through Wellbeing Teams and Community Circles that is designed around the young person and the family, can flex as what people want and need change, and is affordable through personal budgets.

This approach

  • Provides consistency and continuity for the young person and their family
  • Involves the young person and their family in co-designing their support and to work towards person centred outcomes.
  • Provides an integrated approach to support from family, friends alongside paid support and community resources through the role of the Community Circle Connector.
  • Adapts around the young person and family through person-centred reviews, so that everyone contributes to understanding what is working and what needs to change
  • Uses The Support Sequence, and asset based approaches to ensure that we explore creative, innovative ways to enable people to achieve their outcomes.

We are working with families and young people in the North East to share these ideas and to co-produce how Wellbeing Teams can provide support, together with our partners, Making Space. We also hope to work with Integrated Personal Commissioning sites to see how we could test this with young people and  families who have personal budgets. It is very early days, but talking to Denise, and the conversations that Ben is having with young people and families that he is connected to, makes it clear it is worth exploring. We will keep blogging and sharing what we are learning.

If you are a family member and you would like to contribute your views, please email


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *