Channel 4 Learning


Teachers' resources – Programme notes

In Need Of Support

Background information
Curriculum relevance


The programme aims to introduce the concept of individual needs, and provide examples of the kind of support that people require in order to have their particular needs met.

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'In need of support' focuses on four individuals who have specific health and social care needs as a result of normal and disrupted development, chronic health problems and physical disability.

  • David (5) has cerebral palsy (spastic quadriplegia). This affects his physical growth and his development in various ways.
  • Mark (24) has a demiplegia (loss of function on his right side) as a result of a car accident.
  • Phyllis (69) has had four hip replacements and suffers from osteoarthritis. This affects her mobility and her ability to cope with the physical demands of everyday life.
  • Angela (42) cares for five children, largely on her own. She experiences physical and emotional stress and receives informal support for this.
The programme illustrates the various needs (physical, intellectual, emotional and social) that each person has. It also illustrates the considerable practical help and care-support that the participants require on a daily basis.

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Background information



  • To experience health, appropriate development and a positive feeling of wellbeing, an individual must meet, and be able to balance, his or her physical, social, emotional and intellectual needs at any point in time.
  • A person's 'physical needs' refer to the things required for physical growth, development and health. Food, clothing, shelter, warmth, diet, rest, exercise and personal hygiene all contribute to meeting our physical needs.
  • Human beings also have an 'intellectual need' to learn and use thinking and other mental skills. Activities that promote mental stimulation, such as education, entertainment and employment, help to develop and satisfy these needs.
  • Our 'emotional needs' include the need to feel psychologically and emotionally secure, to feel that we are loved and to have a sense of belonging within a family and a wider social group. In this sense people strive for personal security, enjoyment of life, happiness, love and contentment and try to avoid unpleasant emotions such as worry, loneliness and grief.
  • Finally, people have a 'social need' for supportive relationships that enable them to feel accepted, and to find stimulation and company through their contacts with others. An appropriate environment, education, involvement with other people, friendships, opportunities to join social groups and organisations, and employment all provide contexts in which people can meet their social needs.

The impact of disability and ill health on needs

  • People of all ages and abilities require some degree of assistance from and contact with others in order to meet their health and development needs.
  • Chronic illnesses and disabilities that reduce functional ability are likely to increase the level of assistance that a person requires to meet their needs. They may also disrupt normal processes and patterns of physical growth and development.
  • Physical disability or impairment can affect a person's opportunities to meet others, develop relationships and benefit from mainstream educational and employment opportunities thereby affecting their social, emotional and intellectual development.
  • Three of the programme participants have physical health problems or disabilities that affect their needs and development.
  1. David has cerebral palsy. This is a condition caused by injury to the brain during or just after birth. It affects his ability to co-ordinate the movement of his limbs.
  2. Mark has an acquired demiplegia. This refers to paralysis or loss of function in the muscles and limbs on one side of the body.
  3. Phyllis has osteoarthritis. Arthritis is a condition that results in inflammation of one or more joints. This restricts movement and causes pain and swelling. Osteoarthritis is a chronic, degenerative condition mainly affecting weight-bearing joints.

The care needs of disabled people
Disability is a broad term that embraces a variety of inherited and acquired conditions that affect an individual's health, wellbeing and functional ability. Irrespective of the particular conditions that disabled people may have, they are likely to have additional care and support needs, including the need for:

  • appropriate facilities and resources to maintain personal health and well-being
  • practical assistance and support to enable healthy and independent living
  • suitably adapted premises and equipment
  • accessible local services, such as schools, libraries and care organisations, and leisure facilities
  • opportunities to continue further training and education
  • suitable employment
  • opportunities to interact and socialise with other groups

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Curriculum Relevance

  • This programme links directly to Unit 1 Health, Social Care and Early Years Services.
  • The participants illustrate the normal developmental and care needs of children, adults and older people, as well as the specific care needs of disabled people in each of these life stages.
  • The programme provides many examples of participants' physical needs and their support requirements. Additionally, David and Mark's intellectual needs are identified in relation to education. Mark, Phyllis and Angela also talk about their respective social and emotional needs whilst David's mum provides a commentary on his need for appropriate social and intellectual development opportunities.
  • Informal care provision is evident throughout the programme. Its effects on family life is an interesting issue that emerges on a number of occasions.
  • A physiotherapist, hospital consultant, learning support assistants and a radiographer provide examples of formal care input in meeting each individual's particular needs.

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  1. Ask students to create a separate spider diagram for David, Mark, Phyllis and Angela. They should label the 'legs' with each 'need' category. They should then write in examples of the different needs that each person has.


    This activity could be completed immediately after watching the programme for the first time. Alternatively, students could focus on particular sections of the programme (after watching it all the way through), to identify the individual needs of particular people.

  2. The care workers featured in the programme all performed direct care roles. Students could develop their knowledge and understanding of each care role by obtaining information from websites (including and the Channel Four site, careers services and textbooks. Creating and getting them to complete a summary table such as the one below would help them to structure and focus their findings. It should also be possible to reuse the table as other care workers appear in subsequent programmes.

    Job title What type of work is this? What does the job involve? What does the job involve? Where do these people work?
    Hospital Consultant Health care / medicine
    Learning support assistant

  3. Ask students to think about and discuss the ways in which a person's needs change as they grow, develop and mature through the different life stages. How are teenagers' needs different to those of children and adults? Students could also gain an appreciation of changing needs by identifying David's likely needs in the future, or by comparing his current needs with those of Mark.

More lesson ideas

Click here for more lesson ideas

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Students can obtain further information on health and wellbeing from the following sites that are accessible to 14+ pupils:

Additional information on cerebral palsy can be obtained from, the website of the International Cerebral Palsy Society.

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