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What qualities are valued in residential direct care workers from the perspective of people with an intellectual disability and managers of accommodation services?

Authors


Ms Gemma A. Dodevska, Discipline of Disability Studies, RMIT University, Bundoora, Vic. 3083, Australia (e-mail: gemma.dodevska@gmail.com).

Abstract

Background  To date, the descriptions of a ‘good’ direct care worker used to recruit workers for disability services have largely been drawn up by managerial professionals in charge of hiring supports for people with disabilities. However, previous research highlights that these professionals conceptualise a ‘good’ direct care worker differently from service users with an intellectual disability (ID), with professionals placing an emphasis on describing workers with a range of practical skills and knowledge and service users placing an emphasis on describing workers with interpersonal skills. The aim of this research was to replicate this finding using a methodological approach that rectifies some of the weaknesses of previous research in this field.

Method  Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the qualities that are valued in residential direct care workers (RDCWs) from the perspective of seven residents with ID and seven managers of accommodation services located in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia.

Results  Thematic and chi-squared analysis confirmed the findings of previous research with residents with an ID placing more of an emphasis on the interpersonal behaviours of RDCWs in their descriptions compared to the managers.

Conclusions  The interpersonal skills of a potential worker along with their practical skills and knowledge must be considered when recruiting RDCWs. It is also implied that given the different conceptualisation of a ‘good’ direct care worker across service users and professionals, increased service user participation in the organisation of appropriate supports is warranted.

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