Supported Living Quality Standards: How to Empower Care Leavers Through Direct Work

Mar 07, 2024

Direct work is the cornerstone of providing support for care leavers in supported accommodation. It’s through direct work that we can help them transition to adulthood with success.

The Supported Living Quality Standards, as determined in the Supported Accommodation (England) Regulations 2023, are designed to ensure that young people moving from care into adulthood receive the support they need to thrive. Central to achieving this is the role of direct work with care leavers, a method that prioritises personal interaction and tailored support.

In this article, I outline an overview of how professionals can empower care leavers through direct work, in the context of the Supported Living Quality Standards, to promote better outcomes.

Understanding the young person

Empowerment begins with understanding the unique needs, aspirations, and circumstances of each care leaver. Direct work allows for this understanding by building a relationship based on trust and respect. Professionals can use these relationships to create a safe space where young people feel valued and heard. This approach is fundamental to identifying their strengths and areas where they need support, whether it's in education, employment, health, or social skills.

Tailored support plans

The Quality Standards advocate for personalised support plans that consider the individual needs of care leavers. Through direct work, professionals can develop these plans collaboratively with young people, ensuring they have a say in their own journey towards independence. This not only empowers care leavers but also increases the likelihood of successful outcomes as they are more invested in plans they helped create.

Skills development

A key aspect of the Quality Standards is equipping care leavers with the skills necessary for independent living. Direct work provides an ideal platform for this, offering one-to-one sessions on budgeting, looking for accommodation, nutrition and other life skills. These sessions can be adapted to suit the learning style and pace of each young person, making them more effective. Furthermore, professionals can identify specific areas where care leavers might need extra support or resources, ensuring a comprehensive approach to skills development. A great tool to help with this is the Charting Your Path workbook for 16 and 17 year olds in supported accommodation.

Emotional and psychological support

Transitioning to independence can be a daunting prospect for care leavers, all of whom have experienced trauma and instability in their lives. By being available and responsive to the needs of care leavers, professionals can help build their resilience and coping strategies.


Empowering care leavers also means advocating for their rights and needs, while also supporting young people to self-advocate. Professionals engaged in direct work are ideally placed to act as advocates and to support young people as they learn to advocate for themselves, whether it's in accessing services, securing accommodation, or navigating legal processes. Advocacy is essential to ensure care leavers are treated fairly.

Direct work empowers care leavers

The Supported Living Quality Standards set a high bar for the care and support of young people transitioning from care to independence. Direct work is a powerful tool in meeting these standards, offering a personalised, responsive approach that can address the varied needs of care leavers. Using direct work to provide support, those on the care leaver journey can embrace the transition to adulthood more successfully.

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