How adults with learning disabilities view living independently


  • Rebecca J. Bond,

  • Jenni Hurst

  • This study was completed as part of a Masters degree in Occupational Therapy undertaken at the University of Plymouth.


Accessible summary

  • • Nine people with learning disabilities talked about living on their own.
  • • They talked about good and bad things in their lives.
  • • They said it is sometimes hard but better than living in residential care.
  • • They want people who provide services to know that it can be hard to live alone.


It is seen as increasingly important for people with learning disabilities to be supported to live independently and manage their own self care, productivity and leisure activities. This qualitative study explored the experiences of nine adults with mild learning disabilities who lived alone with minimal support. Their narratives were analysed using thematic analysis and seven themes emerged. These were feelings on living alone, practical issues, support issues, choice and control, vulnerability, health issues and the impact of having a learning disability. This study has implications for service users, professionals and service providers working with people with learning disabilities. In particular, the issues raised reflected the need to increase social inclusion and provide the right level of support. Participants talked about service providers needing to be aware of their vulnerability and wanted people to respect their right to make their own choices.