Southend - Modernising Learning Disability Day Opportunities

Case Study

2013 Independent Evaluation of the Learning Disability Day Opportunities Hub and Spoke Pilot Project by Alder Advice for Southend-on-Sea Council


Alder Advice was engaged by Southend-on-Sea Council as an independent adviser to evaluate its trial Hub and Spoke model of day support for adults with Learning Disabilities and to advise on its future development and on how to fully engage stakeholders in the improvement and change process going forward. Task: Specifically, the Council wanted Alder Advice to assess and advise on:

• How effectively the Hub and Spoke trial Learning Disability Day Services project had met the needs of stakeholders,

• The effect on the existing Avro and Viking day centres of the pilot arrangements,

• The feasibility and suitability of expanding the Hub and Spoke model across the borough,

• Possible further improvements, and • Possible opportunities for users to become providers, for example, as peer supporters for others. Approach:

Alder’s methodology had eight components. These were designed to ensure a comprehensive range of evidence was obtained and that key stakeholders were fully involved in co-producing the evaluation of the work so far and the future recommendations.


The evaluation found that the developing day service model in Southend was far better than what had been available before and highlighted the involvement of stakeholders to date as an example of excellent practice. The central location of the hub and ease of access to it by public transport was highlighted as a great asset.

However, the model remained mainly a local authority model. The Hub was central to day services provided by the Council, but there was an opportunity to better link it to other satellite service providers (Council run, private and third sector) and to develop it into an information service and a drop-in facility for all people with learning disabilities in Southend and to offer its rooms for hire to community groups e.g. for peer support activities notably in the evenings and at weekends.

Therefore, recommendations were made to achieve all the above improvements and advice on how to manage the change was given.

In 2018, 5 years on, the hub still exists, and a wide variety of satellite services are linked with it. It has implemented all the changes recommended by Alder Advice and much more. It is now a keystone for people with learning disabilities, regardless of whether their needs are eligible for statutory support or not, in enabling them to live full and unsegregated lives in line with Wellbeing principles.

What Our Client Says:

Simon Leftley Director of Adult Social Services at Southend said:

“Working with Dan and Simon from Alder Advice was really helpful. Their understanding of our business really helped us validate our existing vision and to plan how to move towards it. They were particularly skilful at involving service users and carers in the evaluation process and the quality of evidence in the end report really helped decision takers make decisions, that could have been perceived as quite risky, with confidence. Mostly important we made a transformation to day services, empowering service users and carers to have a real voice and role in designing their future”