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Making life good in the community - Importance of practice leadership, role of house supervisors
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 62714

Sheet 2 (Data)

Table 2
Supervisor Characteristics[1]
Characteristic Frequency
Age (N = 14) 26  35 3
36  45 7
46  55 3
55  65 1
Gender (N = 16) Male 1
Female 15
Education (N = 14) Bachelor s degree 2
Specific qualification (N = 14) Certificate IV in Disability Work 7
Advanced Diploma in Disability 3
Mental Retardation Nurse 7
Other 1
Experience in the field (N =14)[2] Mean tenure in supervisor position in years 9.2 years Range = 1.6  10 years
Mean tenure in DHS[3] in years 17.5 years Range = 6  26 years
Mean length of time working with people with intellectual disabilities 18.3 years Range = 6  26 years
[1] Data is missing from two house supervisors who did not return the information. One is no longer working for the Department and the other is on extended recreational leave.
[2] These figures are based on respondents approximations.
[3] DHS is an acronym for the Victorian Department of Human Services.
Table 3
Data sources
Adapted from: Designing and Conducting Ethnographic Research
(p.128-130) by M. D. LeCompte and J. J. Schensul, 1999,
Walnut Creek, CA, Altamira.
Method Purpose Data source
Participant-observation Record situations as they happen. Written fieldnotes
Record the meanings of these events at the time.
Document analysis Extraction of content and meaning. Documents
Interviews Gather information on specific topics, such as, personal histories and job knowledge. Semi-structured interviews
Diaries Gather information about activity patterns. Unstructured timelog
Table 4
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 teamwork, 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 5
Number of activities recorded by house supervisors per time period.
Participant Total number of time periods completed Total number of  tasks recorded Mean number of tasks per time period
1 116 211 1.82
2 88 146 1.66
3 104 141 1.36
4 88 102 1.16
5 79 133 1.68
6 129 139 1.08
7 106 187 1.76
8 87 162 1.86
9 70 102 1.46
10 72 102 1.42
11 82 140 1.71
12 74 109 1.47
Total (N = 12) 1095 1674 1.53
Table 6
Extent to which respondents recorded activities were coded to house supervisor competency areas.
Competency Area N=1674 Per cent Rank
1. Enhancing staff relations 168 10.04 2
2. Providing direct support 723 43.19 1
3. Building inclusive communities and supporting residents networks 40 2.39 10
4. Support planning and monitoring 59 3.52 8
5. Managing personnel 161 9.62 3
6. Leading training and staff development activities 51 3.05 9
7. Promoting public relations 1 0.06 14
8. Maintaining homes, vehicles, and property 28 1.67 11
9. Protecting health and safety 108 6.45 6
10. Managing financial activities 117 6.99 5
11. Rostering and payroll 66 3.94 7
12. Coordinating Weekday Daytime Supports 7 0.42 12
13. Coordinating policies, procedures, and rule compliance 6 0.36 13
14. Office work 139 8.3 4
Table 7. The 20 most frequently coded house supervisor competencies derived from the activities recorded in the timelogs.
Area Individual competency description Fre-quency % Rank Range Examples from timelog
1. Enhancing staff relations e. House supervisors facilitate teamwork, positive interactions and attitudes among staff. 21 1.3 18= 1  10 Discussed cutting client toenails [with staff].
Discussed new memo with staff.
Informed staff of  only casual comments and their impact on team
g. House supervisors provide formal communication to staff through communication books, memos, and e-mail and by facilitating effective meetings,  handovers , and purposeful interactions. 131 7.8 3 4  22 Handover with night staff.
Wrote in communication book.
Greet second staff member and handover.
2. Providing direct support b. House supervisors interact with residents by listening to their issues, responding to their requests and concerns, sharing ideas and humour, and participating in meals and other activities. 46 2.7 8 0  12 Clients arrived home from programs  greeted them.
Individual time spent with clients looking at photos, chatting re: family/friends.
Chatting with [residents].
d. House supervisors use active support approaches to assist residents with daily living skills, meal preparation, self-care, health care, and other tasks that maintain resident well-being as needed. 326 19.5 1 5  43 Helped clients make beds and clean rooms.
Assisted client to make their lunch.
Supported resident to complete vacuuming.
g. House supervisors support residents in identifying, planning for, and participating in community events and activities. 39 2.3 12= 0  10 Supervised ladies in cinema.
Picnic lunch at Badger Weir park.
Went out on the bus to the Dandenongs with all residents.
k. House supervisors support residents in purchasing household supplies, personal items, and groceries. 44 2.6 9 0  11 Escorted client to local shop to purchase items for dinner.
Quick trip to Bunnings with client for new towel rail.
Resident outing to buy personal items.
l. House supervisors support residents in identifying, securing, and utilising transportation based on their individual preferences and needs. 87 5.2 4 0  24 Bus run. Dropped clients off at ATSS.
Assist resident with taxi to placement.
Drove to [client s] grandmother s house.
q. Activities that residents could be involved in, but were not. 135 8.1 2 1  28 Mopped kitchen and dining room floors.
Cleaned mirrors and windows. Washed clothes, hang clothes on line. Grocery shopping.
4. Support planning, monitoring m. House supervisors maintain resident records including completing necessary filing or assist direct support personnel in this process. 24 1.4 15= 0  5 Progress notes.
Document file notes.
Write in progress notes.
5. Managing personnel k. House supervisors coordinate and facilitate staff meetings. 51 3 7 0  11 Chaired house meeting.
Finished typing up meeting minutes.
Preparation for house meeting.
v. House supervisors manage their own stress by balancing personal and professional lives, taking recreational leave, meal breaks, and utilizing stress management practices. 42 2.5 11 0  9 Coffee break.
Have a coffee and snack.
6. Leading training and staff development activities a. House supervisors attend in-service training, participate in continuing education, and work with their managers on the development and implementation of a Professional Development and Supervision (PDS) plan. 18 1.1 20 0  16 OH and S training.
Read information of national bowel cancer screening program.
Wrote up evaluation questionnaire on house supervisor workshop.
9. Protecting health and safety d. House supervisors ensure that residents receive routine medical, therapeutic, and dental care; and coordinate transportation and staffing or take individuals on related appointments. 24 1.4 15= 0  11 Organised dental appointments.
Attended podiatry appointment.
Organise appointment for client for physiotherapy.
10. Managing financial activities a. House supervisors manage the Client Expenditure Recording System (CERS) in accordance with policy and procedures (for example, reconcile monthly ledgers against bank statements, respond to financial audits). 86 5.1 5 3  12 Wrote up CERS and checked CERS.
Completed CERS receipt entries/change re: cinema, afternoon tea, groceries for tonight.
Setting up clients CERS categories and printing them.
11. Rostering and payroll b. House supervisors solicit and approve staff time sheets (including monitoring staff vacancies, variations from agreed roster and completing the roster vacancies proforma). 39 2.3 12= 0  10 Checked and signed off staff time sheet.
Checking timesheets.
Started doing variations.
d. House supervisors secure staff to fill-in when necessary due to staff illness, resignation, holidays, vacant lines, etc.. 21 1.3 18= 0  6 Roster planning and staffing for residents.
Rang staff to fill shifts.
Leave replacements for next two months.
14. Office work a. House supervisors answer the telephone and return phone calls promptly when messages are left. 31 1.9 14 0  5 Phone calls received x 2.
Rang [name of another group home].
Respond to phone call messages.
c. House supervisors read and respond promptly to mail and email. 78 4.7 6 1  16 Open snail mail and attended to mail. Attended to e-mail.
Quickly checked emails whilst client having lunch.
Responded to emails.
f. House supervisors effectively complete various office tasks (for example,, copying, filing, typing, and maintaining a clean and tidy office). 23 1.4 17 0  9 Close computer and tidy desk.
Administrative tasks.
Table 8
Frequency of house supervisor activities
Coded by individual competencies for  Providing direct support .
Competency N Rank Range
a. House supervisors communicate effectively with residents using their primary method of communication (for example,, speech, gestures, sign language, communication boards, with the assistance of interpreters). 3 11= 0 1
b. House supervisors interact with residents by listening to their issues, responding to their requests and concerns, sharing ideas and humour, and participating in meals and other activities. 46 4 0 12
c. House supervisors provide culturally appropriate support to residents, including support for religious beliefs. 0 15=
d. House supervisors use active support approaches to assist residents with daily living skills, meal preparation, self-care, health care, and other tasks that maintain resident well-being as needed. 326 1 5 43
e. House supervisors provide first aid and arrange for emergency medical appointments as needed. 1 14 0 1
f. House supervisors assist residents in developing routines and activities which are of interest to them (for example, activity and support plans, opportunity plans). 10 8 0-4
g. House supervisors support residents in identifying, planning for, and participating in community events and activities. 39 6 0-10
h. House supervisors assist residents in developing and maintaining family relationships through various means such as correspondence, phone contact, visits, and assisting to plan and coordinate social activities. 14 7 0 7
i. House supervisors support residents in making and maintaining friendships with community members. 3 11= 0 1
j. House supervisors ensure that the physical environment in which residents live meets their style and needs and advocate for necessary resources with their managers. 9 9 0 7
k. House supervisors support residents in purchasing household supplies, personal items, and groceries. 44 5 0 11
l. House supervisors support residents in identifying, securing, and utilising transportation based on their individual preferences and needs. 87 3 0 24
m. House supervisors implement behaviour support plans, intervene with residents in response to challenging behaviour, and diffuse crisis situations as they arise. 0 15=
n. House supervisors model, teach and coach direct support personnel in the most effective approaches to achieve these direct support competencies. 4 10 0 4
o. House supervisors identify necessary resources for residents and direct support staff, and advocate for these resources with their managers (for example, additional staffing in response to changed circumstances, special equipment). 0 15=
p. House supervisors evaluate the quality of supports provided to the residents and continuously strive for improvement. 2 13 0 1
q. Activities that residents could be involved in, but were not. 135 2 1 28
Table 9
Detail of residents and staff in the group homes (N=16)
Total Mean Range
Residents Mean number of residents in setting 74 4.6 03-Jun
Staff Number of full-time staff 40 2.5 0 - 4
Number of part-time staff 69 4.3 03-Oct
Table 10
The relationship between professional and managerial activities
Adapted from Causer and Exworthy (1999)
Role Definition Sub-division Definition
Practising (or rank-and-file) manager Primary function is to engage in the day-to-day exercise of professional activities Pure practitioner No supervisory or resource allocation activities
Quasi-managerial practitioner Supervisory and resource allocation activities are an integral part of their activities, although they are not formally designated as managers
Managing professional Drawn from the ranks of practising professionals whose primary responsibility is the management of the day-to-day work of other professionals and of the resources utilised in that work Practising managing professional Continues to maintain some direct engagement in professional practice.
Non-practising managing professional Has no direct engagement in professional practice
General managers Have overall managerial responsibility for the activities of professional employees, but are not concerned with the direct management of day-to-day practice Professional grounded general manager Drawn from those with a background in the practice of the profession.
Non-professional general manager Not drawn from those with a background in the practice of the profession.
Table 11
Causes of poor performance (Ford and Hargreaves, 1991)
The organisation
Job description: Too wide so impossible to achieve. Insufficiently specific so unclear. No job description. Other staff affected not aware of job description.
Induction: Lack of induction. Poor induction (too short or too limited; planned without consulting the worker or other staff; training need not identified or met; insufficient resources devoted to it; badly planned so ineffective to meet the need).
Standards and monitoring processes: Failure to agree these at the beginning of the job.
Supervision and support: Irregular. Poor skills of supervisor. Poor knowledge of supervisor. Supervisee does not use potential of sessions. No  appraisal of skills and progress in the job. Lack of awareness and action by supervisor on issues of race, gender at work.
Probationary period: use of it not planned: Regular sessions looking at work do not happen.
Relationship of worker and line manager
Relationship of worker with peers
Culture of the organisation: Mismatch between worker and the organisation.
Inadequate resources to do the job
The worker
Lacks the skills or ability to do the job: Poor recruitment process. Lack of identification of training and support needs, and resources to meet these. Lack of confidence.
Health problems impede performance on the job: Physical or mental.
Stress caused by personal circumstances: Move of house. Personal relationships, for example, divorce. Death of close member of the family.
Inability to do the job in the time available
Poor motivation
Values conflict with the purpose and process of work
Appendix B: Completed timelog example
Time What I did in detail. The duration of each happening.
07.00  07.30 7.00  7.15 Handover with night staff. Organised day with day staff.
7.15  7.30 Help clients to make beds, clean rooms.
07.30  08.00 7.30  7.45 Assist with dressing client.
7.45  8.00 Assist clients with breakfast.
08.00  08.30 8.00  8.15 Assist clients with grooming, brushing teeth, etc.
8.15  8.30 Bus run  assist clients onto bus.
08.30  09.00 Bus run  dropped clients off at ATSS.
09.00  09.30 Bus run  dropped clients off at ATSS.
Got petrol 8 minutes.
09.30  10.00 Went to chemist organise incontinence pads.
Fill out log bus book.
10.00  10.30 10.00  10.15 Coffee break.
10.15  10.30 Open computer check e-mails.
10.30  11.00 10.30  10.45 Tried to fill vacant shift.
10.45 -
11.00  11.30 11.10 Discussion via phone with staff member regarding stress leave. Quick e-mail.
11.10  11.30 Looked at roster. Delegated staff to replace shift.
11.30  12.00 11.30  12.00 Completed CERS. Wrote in communication book. Wrote e-mail.
12.00  12.30 Supervision with staff.
12.30  13.00 Supervision with staff.
13.00  13.30 Lunch.
13.30  14.00 Opened snail mail and attended to mail.
Attended to e-mails.
14.00  14.30 Arrange appointments. 20 minutes.
Answered phone calls. 30 minutes
14.30  15.00 Organised dental appointments. 10 minutes.
15.00  15.30 Phone call from other CRU asking me if we could drop off clients to their CRU. 5 minutes.
Clients arrived home from programs, greet them. 25 minutes.
15.30  16.00 Drive the bus and drop other clients to their CRU.
16.00  16.30 4.10 arrive back at CRU.
Close computer, tidy desk, write notes in communication book.
Spend time with clients. 10 minutes. Home.


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