Spirituality can mean many things to people with learning disabilities and what it comprises will be unique to every person.
Whether it constitutes a belief in God or a commitment to friendship and community, all these things can bring meaning, purpose and hope to a person’s life and therefore should not be disregarded as part of the lives of people with learning disabilities.
Very little research has been done into the significance of spirituality for people with learning disabilities. One of the reasons it is overlooked is that many support workers and carers feel they are either not trained to deal with it or that there simply isn't time to incorporate it effectively into the support they are providing.
In 2004, after a two-year nationwide action research project which aimed to explore the spiritual lives of people with learning disabilities, we published Why Are We Here?, a report examining how this dimension of their lives can be incorporated into strategies for care and support. This report was beneficial not only to those who provide care for people with learning disabilities but also to religious communities.
Following our learning from this project we also produced What About Faith?, a guide designed to help services meet the religious needs of people with learning disabilities. It covered practical ideas, information and resources, as well as lessons learned from services working to improve the way that people's religious needs are met. It was aimed at supporting commissioners, service managers, staff and training departments within learning disabilities services.