Many people with intellectual disability have limited social networks and weak connections with the communities in which they live. People themselves have often expressed that they would like more friends and more contact with existing friends and many have limited social roles in the communities in which they live. Others, for various reasons, are separated from their natural support networks i.e. family members. Services, while providing generally safe environments, can sometimes erode or block opportunities for engagement with the community.
Social capital refers to â€˜The connections among individuals - social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them', Putnam (2001) in Bowling Alone, and according to Quality and Fairness - A Health System for You (Irish Health Strategy 2001), â€˜Strong social support contributes to health by providing people with emotional and practical resources.' For those with high Social Capital as measured on various tools, there is a net benefit over time, and high Social Capital can lead to possible beneficial outcomes over time on quality of life and social harmony.
The purpose of this study was to examine the contribution of Social Capital for people with ID using a personal outcomes approach in an Irish context. The subjects were group of 14 people with ID at the forefront in terms of opportunity and level of independence in accessing community interaction; in addition, an existing Baseline study of 64 other people with ID was examined. The tools used in the study to gather data were Personal Outcome Measures System (POMS), a system developed by The Council for Quality and Leadership for use in Services supporting people with disability and a 20 - item verbal questionnaire developed by the National Economic and Social Forum to measure Social Capital in Ireland.