The role of support staff in promoting the social inclusion of persons with an intellectual disability
QOL-domain(s): Social Inclusion
System(s) of support: Professional services
Target Group(s): Intellectual Disability
Age Group(s): Adults
Past studies have found that people supported in more individualised housing options tend to have levels of community participation and wider social networks than those in other accommodation options. Yet, the contribution of support staff in facilitating social inclusion has received relatively scant attention.
In all 245 staff working in either supported living schemes, or shared residential and group homes, or in day centres completed a written questionnaire in which they rated in terms of priority to their job, 16 tasks that were supportive of social inclusion and a further 16 tasks that related to the care of the person they supported. In addition staff identified those tasks that they considered were not appropriate to their job.
Across all three service settings, staff rated more care tasks as having higher priority than they did the social inclusion tasks. However, staff in supported living schemes rated more social inclusion tasks as having high priority than did staff in the other two service settings. Equally the staff who were most inclined to rate social inclusion tasks as not being applicable to their job were those working day centres; female rather than male staff, those in front-line staff rather than senior staff, and those in part-time or relief positions rather than full-time posts. However, within each service settings, there were wide variations in how staff rated the social inclusion tasks.
Staff working in more individualised support arrangements tend to give greater priority to promoting social inclusion although this can vary widely both across and within staff teams. Nonetheless, staff gave greater priority to care tasks especially in congregated service settings. Service managers may need to give more emphasis to social inclusion tasks and provide the leadership, training and resources to facilitate support staff to re-assess their priorities.
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