Reviewed by Inés Lalor, Senior Occupational Therapist, Cheeverstown House, Templeogue,


The authors of this textbook aim to provide discussion on the most pertinent areas for people currently working, or undergoing training to work, with people with learning disabilities (in particular the LDAF 2 and 3 certificates). It covers a broad range of topics, therefore limiting the depth of information; however references and suggestions for further reading are provided at the end of each chapter.

Although most of the case examples and references used refer to adults with mild to moderate learning disabilities, the general principles are also applicable to services for paediatrics and those working with people with profound and multiple learning disabilities although issues regarding consent differ. All the 20 authors have extensive experience in the field of learning disability, and provide guidelines for best practice, both from personal experience and with reference to current British legislation and policy. Working examples and case studies are used throughout to illustrate how the principles can be applied to ensure best practice.

The book is divided into three sections: context and ethos, key skills, and key areas.

Context and Ethos

This section aims to provide a theoretical and legal framework for anyone involved with people with learning disabilities. Beginning with an overview of the changes in service provision, including terminology used and public attitudes, the authors then discuss the application of legislation to ensure best practice in relation to issues such as equal opportunities, protecting people from abuse and risk assessment. As the book is written for a British audience, reference is made to recent NHS policies and relevant British legislation.

Key Skills

The second section discusses key skills required for supporting people with learning disabilities. Written mainly from the authors’ own experiences, this section raises questions about services and skills of service providers and suggests guidelines for reviewing procedures and practices under the frameworks discussed in section one. The skills reviewed (communication, assessment, care planning, confidentiality and record keeping, community involvement and advocacy) are probably all areas where service providers and clinicians feel they employ best practice. However, this section, in particular the case examples, encourages reflection and may raise questions about how services are evaluated.

Key Areas

The final section discusses areas that require consideration in any service and again the authors provide guidelines for writing or reviewing policies and practices. Also mainly written from the authors’ own experiences with illustrations from case examples, sensitive but important issues are discussed—such as sexuality, challenging behaviour, and coping with change, transition and loss. The authors advocate open discussion among service providers and service users with reference to the skills and protocols previously discussed.

Although this book refers to British legislation, it is nonetheless relevant in an Irish context. Reference is made to both Wolfenberger’s ‘normalisation/social role valorisation’ theory and John O’Brien’s five service accomplishments. The issues discussed all reflect the principles proposed by these models which are widely accepted in learning disability services in Ireland. In addition, the user-friendly format and non- jargon language make this book accessible to all readers.

LEARNING DISABILITY TODAY, edited by Steve Carnaby (2002). Pavilion Publishing, The Ironworks, Cheapside, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4GD. Paperback, stg£14.95. ISBN 1 84196 068 3. (To register on the Pavilion website, visit www.pavpub.com/pavpub/register/index.asp.)


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