Time and the person: The impact of support services on the lives of parents of adults with intellectual disabilities

Stuart Todd*, Julia Shearn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The last decade has witnessed a notable growth in instrumental family support services. While there exists a considerable literature on levels of consumer satisfaction with support services, their impact upon parents' commitment to the parental role has been less well addressed. Employing data derived from a qualitative, indepth study of the experiences of parents of 33 co-resident adult offspring with intellectual disabilities, this article examines some features of parents' lives which shape parents' needs for support and their assessment of the adequacy of support received. Support services were positively received in the way they interrupted, what would otherwise be, a continuous cycle of care. However, for some parents the nature of provision was such that support services heightened rather than moderated their sense of living a restricted lifestyle. Support services were insensitive to the life course dimension of parents' lives, operating upon a notion that parents required only respite. The findings suggest that support services need to adopt a more rounded view of parents if effective help is to be provided to them. This would include an understanding that parents wish to be creative with the time liberated by support services. The development of support services is discussed in terms of two phases. The first phase, and that which currently predominates, involves supporting parents through sharing the parental workload. The second, and less advanced phase involves supporting the person and his/her range of personal aspirations and interests. The implications which this latter phase may have for other forms of service provision are briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-60
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • intellectual disabilities
  • family support services


Dive into the research topics of 'Time and the person: The impact of support services on the lives of parents of adults with intellectual disabilities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this