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A support worker holding a can of condensed milk and a person using a spoon in the can.

Graded Assistance to Ensure Success

MODULE 3	 	Diagram showing the 4 Essentials of Active Support, highlighting Graded assistance to ensure success.
Graded Assistance is the 2nd Essential of Active Support 

Using graded assistance means staff provide the support a person needs to engage successfully in an activity or interaction. 

There are different ways to support a person to be engaged.
The type and amount of support depends on the person and the activity.

This video explains Graded Assistance.

You need to know a person to judge the support they need for an activity or interaction. 

A support worker and a person holding a kettle.

Different ways to provide assistance are:

  • Asking: “Can you get the milk from the fridge?” 

  • Instructing: “Press the switch on the kettle”

  • Prompting or gesturing: Pointing to the cupboard to get a cup 

  • Demonstrating: Showing the person how to hold a carton to pour milk

  • Guiding (hand-over-hand assistance): Both you and the person holding the kettle to pour hot water into a cup

If you provide too little support, or the wrong type, a person may not succeed in a task. 


  • For example, giving instructions using complex words that the person doesn’t understand.  

If you provide too much support, you will take away opportunities to be engaged or to use skills. 


  • For example, guiding a person to spread jam on bread when they can do it just with prompts.

Sometimes the right support is encouraging a person to do a task, and then standing back, so they can do it at their own pace.

This video shows support workers providing the right type and amount of assistance to enable participation.



  1. What types of assistance did you see the support workers use in the video?

  2. Was the right type and amount of assistance provided to people supported? 

  3. Was their participation successful?

It takes practice to be skilled in graded assistance. 


  • You have to know the person 

  • You have to judge the right type and amount assistance for each activity 

  • You have to learn how to provide it effectively

  • You may learn by trial and error 

When a person does an activity often, the type of support they need may change. This is because they become more confident or learn new skills. 

Graded Assistance to Ensure Success means providing the right type and amount of assistance a person needs to successfully engage in an activity or interaction. You can provide assistance in different ways. Such as guiding a person’s hand or standing back while they do it themselves. 


The right support depends on the activity and the person’s skills. You need to know a person well to provide good support. Graded assistance takes practice. 


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