Accessing the Community

Scope of this chapter

Community gives people a sense of belonging, safety and security. It also provides opportunities to connect with others, achieve goals and grow.

It can reduce social isolation and loneliness, give people a sense of purpose and improve overall physical and mental wellbeing.

It is therefore very important that we support people to access the community and this chapter looks at some of the different ways that we can do this.

In the context of care and support, ‘community’ usually incorporates 3 different things:

1. The facilities and activities in the local area

This includes places a person might need to go, like the local shop, library, or hairdressers.

It also includes the places they want to go, such as a café, pub, swimming baths, or cinema.

2. Other people or groups to which the person has a strong connection

This includes family and friends and any community of people that is important to the person. For example, a religious community, a sporting community, LGBT community, a hobby group, or a support group.

3. The wider community

A wider community means outside of the local area. For example, going on holiday.

Relevant Regulations

Related Chapters and Guidance

Support should only be provided if the person needs it or asks for it.

Support should be provided in line with the individual care or support plan.

Support should promote independence and maximise choice and control at all times.

The community facilities and activities accessed should reflect the preferences of the person, and not what works best for the service. For example, only using the shop that is closest or the easiest to get to.

Some people will know exactly where they want to go, when and how to get there. Other people will need some help with this.

If someone asks for support it should be provided.

Don’t assume that because someone does not ask to access their community, they do not want to. It is unlikely that they will be happy staying at home all day.

Support could mean helping someone research an activity or group on the internet. It could mean supporting them to visit for a taster session. It could mean getting in touch with a group to help with a membership application, or to find out more about what they do.

It could also mean encouraging someone that is isolated to get involved in their community. Suggestions in this case should always be based on what is known about their likes and preferences.

This means making sure that the person has everything they need before accessing the community.

For example:

  • A coat;
  • An umbrella;
  • Their mobile phone (charged with relevant numbers added);
  • Money;
  • Bus pass;
  • The address where they are going.

Staff should only establish where a person is going and what time they will be back if a risk assessment has identified this as a necessary measure to keep them safe. The person should be asked to notify staff if their plans change, so that emergency action isn’t taken if it does not need to be.

If people are going to access the community independently, it is important to reduce the risk of abuse or neglect occurring.

One of the ways that this can be achieved is by empowering the person.

  • How to recognise when they may be at risk of abuse or neglect, and who from;
  • That they always have the right to say no;
  • What options are available to reduce the risk of abuse or neglect;
  • How to make decisions about ways to reduce the risk of abuse occurring;
  • How to get help and/or report concerns or incidents of abuse or neglect.

If the service has agreed to any risk reduction measures, staff must make sure they happen. For example, if the person needs support to make sure their mobile phone is charged or reminded to take it with them.

For further information, see:

Preventing Abuse and Neglect

To promote independence and dignity, any direct support provided to a person must be appropriate and proportionate to the level of risk that exists at any given time. In particular, people should not be over supported or restricted from moving freely if they do not need to be. For example, if someone needs to stay near to staff by the roadside, this does not necessarily mean they need to at the destination.

To understand the support that someone may need to stay safe, risks must be properly assessed. A positive approach should be taken to risk.

See: A Positive Approach to Risk

There is a chapter of this Handbook dedicated to the process of person-centred risk assessment.

See: Risk Assessment (person-centred)

Mobility support is ‘support to move.’ This could be physical support to get around but could also be practical support. For example, helping someone to find out about a bus timetable, the most cost-effective way to travel or booking a taxi.

There is another chapter of this Handbook that is dedicated to mobility support. It includes information on all the following:

  • Public transport, taxis and community transport services;
  • ShopMobility Schemes;
  • Motability scheme;
  • Blue badge scheme;
  • Accessible toilets.

See: Mobility Support

It is a fact of life that things do not always go to plan. We need to anticipate the things that are most likely to go wrong and be prepared for them. This will help reduce the negative impact of an event or incident for the person and ourselves.

Examples of things you may need to consider:

  • If an accessible toilet is out of order;
  • If a person becomes agitated;
  • If a person goes missing;
  • If someone has an accident and sustains an injury;
  • If a vehicle you are using is involved in an accident;
  • If a train or bus is cancelled or delayed;
  • If the place you are going is not open;
  • If there is a serious incident at the place you are going e.g., a fire.

For further information, see:

Emergencies and Unplanned Events

Sometimes people cannot leave home. For example, if they are unwell or if their mental health currently prevents them from feeling able to do so.

People that cannot leave their home can feel isolated and lonely very quickly, especially if they are used to going out and being a part of their community. This can have a detrimental effect on their overall sense of wellbeing.

It is important to help them find different ways to access their community.

For example:

  • Using technology to keep in touch with family, friends and community groups;
  • Asking their hairdresser if they can accommodate a home visit;
  • Ordering food from their favourite restaurant;
  • Ordering shopping online;
  • Going to the shop on their behalf, but using e.g., Facetime whilst you are there so they can still choose what they want to buy;
  • Arranging for live entertainment at home;
  • Bringing the cinema home - using Netflix, Amazon etc. to access a wide range of films to watch together;
  • Speak to a religious leader about other ways to be a part of the community, e.g., online services, visits to the person at home to worship.

Last Updated: March 23, 2022