Translating quality of life into service action: use of personal outcome measures in the Republic of Ireland


  • Bob McCormack,

  • Margaret Farrell


Accessible summary

  • • Two-hundred-and-fifty-six people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland were asked about their lives. What is important to them? Do they get the help they need from staff?
  • • We found that very few people exercised their rights. Very few people choose the work they do. Very few people live, work and have fun in ordinary places. People said they want to choose their own goals.
  • • People want to choose the work they do. People want to take part in their own community. People with severe communication difficulties can be supported to say what is important to them.
  • • This report tells staff about things people want help with.


A growing consensus exists regarding Quality of Life measures and their use to support person-centred planning and organisational development. A survey designed to assess current Quality of Life of 256 adults with intellectual disabilities was conducted across a range of 22 service providers in the Republic of Ireland using Personal Outcome Measures (Council on Quality & Leadership 2000). The aim of the survey was to gauge whether organisational processes are in place to support the achievement of personal outcomes of people with intellectual disabilities and to identify people’s unmet priority outcomes. Results reveal that, on average, participants had less than half their personal outcomes fully present at the time of the survey. However, the number of personal outcomes present varied with the severity of the disability. Findings highlight the need to develop more integrated services, to maintain people in their local communities rather than remove them into special settings and develop more reciprocal relationships with communities. The results provide a baseline for Irish services against which to benchmark further progress. Newer models of service such as individualised service design, supported employment and supported living offer this potential.