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People with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD)

People with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) are, like everyone else, unique individuals. Supporting people with complex, multiple needs requires more than a desire to look after them. It takes specialist skills based on proven expert knowledge and best practice. At Options for Life we invest heavily in the training and development of our support staff to ensure they have the skills and experience they need to help people with the most complex, multiple needs.


The term profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) is a description rather than a clinical diagnosis. Whilst there is no definitive set of characteristics for PMLD it is widely acknowledged that there are a heterogeneous/diverse group of people with learning disabilities who have a complex range of difficulties (cf. Raising our Sights How to Guide for Commissioners, 2013).

What’s included:

  • In depth support plan co designed by parents/carers, professionals and the participant

  • Daily Communication Logs - including dietary, seizure charts, medication paperwork

  • Home Diaries - updated daily for family re-assurance and clear communication

  • Support if required for professional meetings

  • Weekly/monthly communication updates from assigned key workers

  • All participants have their own assigned equipment, this includes plates, bowls, aromatherapy oils, shower gels, hair brushes etc.

Physiotherapy regime including standing frames/walkers and floor mats.

Referrals are placed (consent obtained) for a physio assessment with the local physio teams. This will support and maintain mobility or aid with muscle strength and posture. Each participant will have their own regime that is carried out by our trained staff.  We have mats, wedges and other essential equipment to aid with the regimes.  Each participant will have their own individual physio activity included into their daily/weekly schedule as recommended by the physiotherapists, this could include the use of standing frames, walkers, or splints.  Some participants will have been recommended hydrotherapy regimes, these will also be scheduled into their weekly planners.

Sleep systems

Sleep systems aid with postural care, for those who have assessments for these systems our staff will support this at Options for Life as this really supports parents/carers at home. It gives our participants routine from day to evenings and with the use of interactive on body signing it supports consistency with home routines.

Sensory Stories

Our purpose built room and facilities provides the perfect home for our bank of sensory stories which are narratively composed of simple lines of text. Each line has an accompanying sensory experience that supports the story. Our effective stories includes unique elements that target our participants sense of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. These sessions can be completed in small groups and individually.

Sensory Sessions

Sensory play using mainly food items so that all sessions are safe, our participants can feel, smell and occasionally taste the variety different textures.

Massages of hands and feet using aromatherapy oils

Sensory experiences in our own garden with specialised equipment - see facilities for more information.

Cooking/baking sessions where participants can feel, smell and taste ingredients at different stages of the process. They can also assist with the use of switches.

Regular food and fruit tasting sessions which are usually very popular.

Our sensory sessions have often supported the sensory assessments that are carried out by the local occupational health team. 

Each participant has access to their own sensory items that may have been recommended through the assessments. 

Other sessions include pampering which includes having nails filed, shaped and varnish applied, head massages including hair styling, or simply a warm shower on the shower changing bed, this will depend on the individual’s preferences.  All items used are for single use.

Community Days Out and Swimming

We use many of the local facilities and community days are something participants really enjoy – who doesn’t like a pub meal with friends!  Or a visit to the Black Country Museum trying the fish and chips! (and we will ensure that everyone is able to join in no matter what dysphagia level they require).  To help with our community days we have purpose-built minibuses but of course we also use the bus, tram and train as this experience is enjoyed by many participants.


Swimming is a big part of keeping participants happy and supple and everyone that enjoys swimming sessions have this included in their schedules.


We offer a range of successful art and sensory based activities in 1:1 and group sessions. Sessions are person centred and created in awareness of positive sensory stimulation tailored to each individual participant's needs. We explore touch, texture, light and colour in creative ways that allow for an inclusive, sensory and expressive experience. For example, sessions have included expressive painting on large canvas, using textured balls that are kicked, thrown or rolled through paint. Pottery, using a custom designed potter’s wheel that allows for wheelchair access, where participants are supported to create forms and explore texture, pressure, and touch. Art sessions are aimed to offer a tailored, enriching social and sensory experience that explores visual communication and expression.


One of our most popular sessions at Acorn Lodge and participants have small group sessions and 1:1 sessions depending on what they prefer.  We have various adapted musical instruments that are available.

Sensory Resonance Boards

These give participants the opportunity to experience the vibrations of music through the body. Participants can interact in various ways: by sitting - directly onto the board, or in a chair, by placing their hands on the board or by watching items placed on the board vibrate.

Sensory Music Ball


These sensory balls contain a battery powered microprocessor that takes movement information (shaking, spinning, rolling etc) and turns them into MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) information. So, a roll of the ball translates into a musical scale or a shake of the ball can trigger for a drumbeat. There are many further functions to this that can be developed.

Music Bottles


These are speakers that are cased and capped with a large plastic bottle, making the speaker for holding, hugging and feeling sounds. The funnelled top to the bottle also generates air pressure that can be felt as puffs of air.



Our waterbed has been adapted so it can be used with music being piped into it providing vibration and sound, so the music can be felt as well as heard.

Monthly Themed Days


These take place at least once a month, participants help prepare for the day, this includes arts/crafts and decorations they make to decorate the hub and on the days all participants and staff dress up, play themed games, eat food associated with the themed day. These days are always filled with fun, laughter and excitement.

Intensive interaction/on body signing


Intensive interaction is about learning and using a language that has meaning for an individual to build a relationship with them. Each participant develops their own personal language of stimuli that have significance for them and to which they listen. Our staff will ensure this information is also shared with parents/carers so it can be used both at home and with us at the hub.

Postural care


All participants are supported with their postural care by using the right equipment and positioning techniques to help protect and restore body shapes.

Options for Life PMLD

At Acorn Lodge hub of the Options for Life, we provide a day service with meaningful activities for individuals with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) and offer a diverse range of personalised care packages.

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