ICDP with people with intellectual disabilities

ICDP programme in the services for people with intellectual disabilities in Finland.

ICDP Finland informs about an interesting adaptation of ICDP in which the programme was used to train adult caregivers of adults with intellectual disabilities:

Good interaction between professionals and people with intellectual disabilities is essential for achieving a person-centred service and in the long run it is fundamental in striving to reach an equal status for people with intellectual disabilities in society as a whole.

One of the first initiatives in Finland, where the ICDP programme was applied by professionals working with people with intellectual disabilities (ID), took place in the Swedish-speaking joint municipality Kårkulla in 2015. The programme was conducted in the Swedish language.

Kårkulla Joint Municipality is a service producer that provides counselling and service to Swedish-speaking persons with intellectual or other functional disabilities. The main objective is to offer continuous individual and family-centred rehabilitation and service in aid of their development and social involvement. The service is directed to children, families, young people, adults and seniors and is located in around 100 operating points in Swedish-speaking Finland. Currently Kårkulla has 4 facilitators trained in the ICDP programme.

The implementation was realized by having regional facilitators, who carry out ICDP groups for different professionals involved in the daily work: caregivers, instructors, therapists and unit managers. The programme was applied in orde to support and strengthen the interaction between professionals and persons with ID receiving services from the Swedish speaking joint municipality in Finland.

The start was challenging in different ways, because the programme had not yet been used widely among professional caregivers working with adults with ID. The tools and approach had to be adapted to fit in with the professional roles of caregivers working with adults, often in cases where the family had strong supportive ties to the person with ID. It was important for the ICDP facilitators to network and together create a basis for the intervention that would strengthen professional caregivers’ capacity to interact with adults with ID.

The goal was to enhance adults’ opportunities to be heard and seen as advocates of their own lives despite being in lifelong care.  This was achieved through supportive interaction. People with ID are sometimes only given the role of passive receiver, and therefore it is important to provide them with an opportunity to explore their adulthood and to encourage their independence. 

It was important for the facilitators to understand the different perspectives of the professional caregivers. The perspective is sometimes experienced as a balance between supporting independence and allowing for autonomy of the individual in their care. And at the same time trying to understand the caregiving dimension in the parent-relationship that is often strongly present in the lives of adults with ID. The professionals expressed the need to balance different interests. This discussion was given special attention in the groups. Discussion and exercises about redefinition were practiced by the groups. The image of the competent independent individual was strengthened and it was emphasized that autonomy can be expressed in different ways.

Professionals who attended ICDP groups expressed that the exercises and discussion enabled them to see interaction as fundamental to their work. Some also felt encouraged that they had the opportunity to discuss about different emotions and the importance of empathy during scheduled work.

Unfortunately, the continuing work with ICDP is weakened by the fact that no new facilitators are being trained, which means that in some regions of the joint municipality there are no ICDP groups available for professionals working with persons with ID. But the facilitators are confident that it will be possible to develop the work in the future. The experience of training  professional groups in ICDP will  help to incorporate ICDP in the services for persons with intellectual disabilities in the future.