Care staff perceptions of adults with profound learning disabilities : contents and processes.
Background and Aims
This research dissertation attempts to elicit care staff perceptions of clients with
profound learning disabilities and the processes involved in these perceptions. There
is little research in the area of staff perspectives in this field. Clinical psychologists
working in this field often have extensive contact with staff regarding clients, and
conflict regarding perception of clients can arise. It is suggested that for psychologists
to gain some insight into how staff perceive clients and the processes involved would
help to facilitate understanding of, and co-operation, with care staff
Design and Participants
A qualitative design was employed as the study was seen as exploratory and was
investigating the personal experiences and perspectives of participants. Participants
were nine direct care staffwho worked in a variety of service settings.
Each respondent completed a written free response description of a client of their
choice. This was followed by a semi-structured interview that aimed to explore the
processes involved in staff perceptions of clients.
Written descriptions shared some factors in common with free response description
within the general population. However, novel categories included communication
issues, behavioural difficultithere were complex processes operating that made it difficult for respondents to
acknowledge the disability and still feel positive about the clients and the work.
There was also a marked change over time described by respondents in their
perceptions of clients.
It is suggested care staff need a forum for acknowledging and exploring difficult
feelings. Clinical psychologists are well placed to facilitate this but must also be
aware of their own problems regarding acknowledging and coping with profound
disability. Awareness of the issues might also help psychologists to work more
sensitively and productively with staff.