Author: Simon Duffy

This article was first published in Care Management Matters, our thanks to them for permission to republish here.

Terms like ‘supported living’ once played a useful role in challenging segregation and powerlessness. But today the terms have been corrupted to such an extent that they have lost any useful meaning. Here Simon explores what has happened and what we might do about it.

Over 20 years ago Peter Kinsella returned from a year in America as a Harkness Fellow and he then pulled together the Supported Living Programme. I was very honoured to be asked to join Peter’s small team that worked to help service providers find an alternatives to group homes.

Peter’s work was critically important in the development of policy in the UK. By the combination of innovation and passionate advocacy he helped us move towards a better understanding of our human need to live in real homes. Instead of trying to fit people into service models (the hospital, the hostel, the group home or an individual flat) he argued we should treat each person as an individual and work with them to help them get the housing and support solution that was right for them.

In those day Supported Living meant good support, one person at a time, and with no fixed models. However last year I attended a conference on Supported Living in London attended by senior managers, commissioners and many different service providers. It was very clear that now, when people use the term Supported Living, they just mean ‘a group home that is not a residential care home’. Supported Living has not only just become another model it has actually become the very model it was designed to challenge.

How did this happen? How did Supported Living lose its meaning?..



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