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Making life good in the community - As good as it gets data
Making life good in the community is a three year research project that examed how best to support people with an intellectual disability living in group homes to lead fulfilling lives.

Sheet 1 (Copyright)

State Government of Victoria, 2008, Department of Human Services, Victoria
This publication is copyright. No part may be reproduced by any process except in
Accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968.
ISBN 0 7311 6331 1

Sheet 2 (Data)

Table 1
Demographic information for the 26 residents
Sex N=26 Age when moved to group home Years lived at KRS Level of intellectual disability[1] Communication level (Triple C Bloomberg and West, 1999)
N=25 N=25 N=23
64 Penny Lane M 57 53 Severe Stage 4
M 51 41 Profound Stage 4
M 51 47 Severe Stage 5
M 53 53 Severe Stage 4
M 48 31 Severe Stage 4
96 High Street M 42 42 Moderate Stage 5
F 64 42 Severe Stage 6
M 43 32 Moderate Stage 6
F 55 50 Severe Stage 6
M 51 40 Moderate Not available (n/a)
F 55 47 Moderate Stage 6
16 Temple Court M 70 62 Severe Stage 3
M 57 48 Severe n/a
M 50 38 Profound Stage 2
M 52 49 Severe n/a
M 35 28 Severe Stage 1/2
18 Finch Grove M 34 29 Severe Stage 2
M 42 42 Profound Stage 4
M 39 31 Profound Stage 3
M 39 n/a n/a Stage 2
M 51 46 Profound Stage 1/2
M 49 42 Profound Stage 3
9 Burton Avenue M 49 31 Severe Stage 4
M 45 33 Moderate to severe Stage 5
M 45 40 Severe Stage 5
M 41 34 Severe Stage 4
[1] Diagnosing people with a severe or profound intellectual disability is an inaccurate science. We have not included the resident who has been diagnosed as  moderate to severe in the  population of 20 residents with severe or profound diagnoses. In some of the historical records we noticed that people s diagnostic label changed over time. Where we read this, we used the more recent diagnosis. The important point is that most of the residents are labelled as being towards the more severe/profound end of the intellectual disability continuum.
Table 2
General information about ethnographic data
Domain 64 Penny Lane 96 High Street 16 Temple Court 18 Finch Grove 9 Burton Avenue Total
Hours of participant-observation 46 36 59 34 34 209
Number of days on which data was collected 9 9 11 8 8 45
Number of interviews 9 0 1 4 0 14
Data set (number of words) 58000 20000 29000 28000 16000 151000
Table 3
Outline of the three action research projects
Research project Broad research goal More specific goals
64 Penny Lane Building inclusive communities for people with disabilities in a group home for five men with severe intellectual disabilities. To expand the men s social networks, so that they would experience being part of a growing network of personal relationships that included the possibility of making close friends. We were particularly interested in attempting to expand the men s social networks with non-disabled people, rather than facilitating relationships with staff members, relatives, or people with intellectual disabilities. What could we learn about trying to implement the goal of building inclusive communities?
16 Temple Court Implementing person-centred active support in a group home for five men with profound intellectual disabilities. To work with the house supervisor and team manager to implement active support in order increase levels of resident engagement in  meaningful activities To what extent did the staff at 16 Temple Court implement the  organisational systems in the way that their training stipulated?
What role did the house supervisor and team manager have in supporting, enabling and monitoring the implementation of active support?
What impact did the changes made to the  original active support  organisational systems have for implementation and sustainability?
96 High Street Developing more individualised services in a group home for three men and three women with intellectual disabilities. To support the staff group to explore the concept of keyworking, and support the house supervisor to develop, implement and reflect on its use. Successfully implementing a keyworking system was seen as requiring the completion of three phases:
To use the learning from this project to inform the way the keyworking concept is used in other houses. clarifying the role
informing the staff group about the role
implementing and monitoring the role.
Table 4
An outline of the job analysis
Research project Broad research goal More specific goals
Practice leadership and the role of the house supervisor To identify the competencies required of house supervisors to work effectively in group homes and implement contemporary support goals for people with intellectual disabilities To clearly define what is expected of house supervisors
How can people in the role of the house supervisor best be supported and developed by the Department?
To make clearer the meaning of the practice manager/leader term.
Table 5
An outline of the  homeliness evaluation
Research project Broad research goal More specific goals
When is a house a home? Looking at how homely community houses are for people with an intellectual disability who have moved out of an institution. Are the houses homely?
Are they the best they can be?
Table 6
Summary of data collection methods
Methods of data collection Facilitating community participation Implementing a keyworking system Implementing active support When is a house a home? What is expected of a house supervisor?
64 Penny Lane 96 High Street 16 Temple Court
Activity Learning Logs
Document analysis
 Structured observation[1]
[1] The table makes the distinction between participant-observation and  structured observation, which are both observational methods. We wanted to preserve a difference between a more open-ended ethnographic approach and a project that had a greater degree of structure in its approach to data gathering.
Table 7
Verification procedures used in
Making Life Good in the Community
Procedure What we did
Prolonged engagement and persistent observation We collected data for 125 weeks.
Triangulation We used data from one source to assess the validity of findings from another source.
Peer review and debriefing Fieldnotes were shared with the research team, who met regularly to reflect on the data and discuss emerging propositions and interpretations. Researchers who were not engaged in fieldwork in specific settings were able to adopt the role of  critical friend , giving feedback and probing for alternative interpretations (Winter and Munn-Giddings, 2001).
Negative case analysis We asked staff groups for disconfirming evidence.
Clarifying researcher bias Qualitative research emphasizes a continuous examination of the assumptions that are operating in the research arena. We aspired to operate in a reflexive manner from the project s outset. In our reports we clarify our assumptions about the research goals and about how support to people with intellectual disabilities should be organised.
Member checks We gave data, analyses, interpretations, and conclusions back to research participants so that they could judge the accuracy and credibility of the accounts.
Rich, thick description Our reports are lengthy, containing detailed descriptions of the research settings.
Table 8
Levels of Reflection
(Based on Richardson and Maltby, 1995)
Level 1 Involves recall of an incident or experience and a description of what took place.
Descriptive Reflectivity
Level 2: Involves an awareness and expression of feelings about the experience.
Affective Reflectivity
Level 3: Involves and assessment of some kind which may include an analysis of different aspects of the situation.
Discriminant Reflectivity
Level 4: Might involve a review of your own attitudes, an awareness of value judgements and their subjective nature; consideration of other avenues that might have been pursued.
Judgemental Activity
Level 5: Involves a consideration of learning needs.
Conceptual Reflectivity
Level 6: Consideration of how theory might inform practice and/or practice inform theory.
Theoretical Reflexivity
Table 9
Competency areas for DHS house supervisors
Competency Area Definition
1. Enhancing staff relations House supervisors enhance staff relations by using effective communication skills, encouraging growth and self-development, facilitating team-work, employing conflict resolution skills, and providing adequate supports to staff.
2. Providing direct support House supervisors provide direct supports to residents and role model such supports to direct support personnel by assisting with living skills, communicating and interacting with residents, facilitating community inclusion, maintaining an appropriate physical environment, providing transportation, maintaining finances, developing behaviour support plans and demonstrating the importance of residents becoming active citizens in their neighbourhoods and local communities.
3. Building inclusive communities and supporting residents networks House supervisors facilitate and support the development and maintenance of resident support networks through outreach to family members, community members, and professionals and through coordination of personal planning sessions in collaboration with the individual served.
4. Support planning and monitoring House supervisors oversee support planning and monitoring by planning and developing individual goals and outcomes with residents, coordinating and participating in support network meetings, monitoring, documenting, and reporting progress toward meeting outcomes, and communicating with other service organisations.
5. Managing personnel House supervisors participate in processes to hire new staff, provide professional development and supervision, facilitate team-work and staff meetings, delegate tasks and responsibilities, encourage effective communication, defuse crises/conflicts between staff, and in conjunction with his/her manager respond to grievances and offer, monitor, and review fixed-term contracts.
6. Leading training and staff development activities House supervisors coordinate and participate in direct support staff training by orienting new staff, ensure that staff to attend training sessions, document staff participation in training events, and support on-going staff development.
7. Maintaining homes, vehicles, and property House supervisors coordinate and participate in maintaining homes, vehicles, and personal property in proper order.
8. Promoting public relations House supervisors promote public relations by educating community members about people with intellectual disabilities, advocate for the rights and responsibilities of people with intellectual disabilities, contribute to in-service promotional materials and accept students on educational placements.
9. Protecting health and safety House supervisors ensure that residents are safe and living healthy lives by monitoring safety issues, coordinating, monitoring and documenting medical supports, practicing appropriate emergency procedures, responding to emergencies, and promoting residents rights regarding health and safety issues. As the home is also a workplace, house supervisors ensure that the house is a safe and healthy workplace for staff, contractors and visitors.
10. Managing financial activities House supervisors ensure financial responsibility by managing the Client Expenditure Recording System (CERS), supporting residents in the management of their finances; reviewing, managing, and implementing household budgets; arranging payment for specific bills, and completing audits of household and resident finances.
11. Rostering and payroll House supervisors ensure direct support professionals are rostered, paid, and receive time off when requested.
12. Coordinating Weekday Daytime Supports House supervisors monitor residents involvement in external activities (for example, day programs) and/or ensure that schedules are created for residents who are  at home on weekdays that are based on their individual preferences and needs.
13. Coordinating policies, procedures, and rule compliance House supervisors understand and implement current state rules and regulations, Department of Human Services policies and practices, and the protection of individual rights.
14. Office work House supervisors communicate effectively in writing and via the telephone; complete various office tasks; and utilise the computer effectively for word processing, developing spread sheets, and managing databases.
Table 10
A synthesis of recommendations
DDSOs Prerequisite English literacy skills.
Knowledge about the role and responsibilities of a keyworker.
Knowledge about how to support people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities using an active support framework.
Strategies and skills to  get to know people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities.
Knowledge about how to communicate with people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities.
Strategies and skills for planning.
Strategies and skills to develop reflective practice.
A positive orientation towards  useful paperwork.
House supervisor and Team manager Implement and monitor organisational systems.
Keep recording systems fresh and relevant.
Analyse data regularly and give feedback.
Prioritise planned formal supervision meetings.
Enable the staff group to become reflective practitioners.
Plan for community participation.
Manage effective house meetings.
Observe DDSOs interact with residents.
Use the physical environment to promote the desired work culture.
Identify coaching and training needs.
Organisational level Ensure a stable and skilled workforce.
Minimise the use of casual staff.
Work to keep core processes and principles in focus during times of change.
Recruit DDSOs with prerequisite skills.
Provide an organisational response to manage incumbents without the capacity to develop prerequisite skills.
Recruit house supervisors and team managers with prerequisite skills.
Use the competency document to recruit house supervisors.
Use the competency document to communicate to house supervisors what they are expected to do.
Use the competency document to develop a self- and peer-assessment tool.
Develop a more theorised understanding of practice leadership.
Review and clarify the DDSO2 role.
Review and clarify the team manager s role.
Provide comprehensive job descriptions.
Provide training/coaching to bridge competency gaps (e.g. running effective house meetings).
Introduce comprehensive supervision and appraisal systems.
Clarify and embed the Professional Development and Supervision Policy.
Develop training that reflects the four modes of supervision.
Ensure adequate and good use of resources, particularly in relation to flexible rosters, house meetings attended by all, planned formal supervision for all, and time for planned informal supervision.
Provide practice guidance for working with people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. Translate Departmental goals into practical guides for action. Acknowledge the personal restrictions of profound intellectual disability.
Clarify what is meant by the goal of building inclusive communities and align related documentation and guidance with this goal.
Enhance planning and assessment tools.
Experiment with specific schemes to enhance community participation.
Review and clarify the  type of relationships direct support staff can have with service-users.


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