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Satisfaction with social and residential environments of adults with mental retardation in supported independent living and group homes

By Shelley L. Potter


The philosophy that has permeated Ontario’s policies and planning in the realm of adults with mental retardation has been that of integration into the community. Community based residences vary greatly in terms of size, type, and care given; however they generally fall in the category of the “least restrictive alternative”. The present study is focused on the similarities and distinctions between two of these alternatives, and in the satisfaction experienced by the consumers in these two programs themselves: community group homes and supported independent living programs. In the present study interviews with 40 adults with mental retardation were conducted. Twenty adults resided in community group homes, while 20 were clients of supported independent living programs. Clients were asked to answer questions based on the Halpern, Close and Nelson (1986) survey of independent living programs in the U.S., regarding five areas of their lives. They were also asked to provide information concerning their social support according to the Arizona Social Support Interview Schedule (Barrera, 1981). These interviews were used to provide a comparison between findings of satisfaction and levels of concern within the two residence types. Some authors had urged caution with respect to independent community living programs for these populations, due to concerns about social isolation, residential quality, increased vulnerability and so on. Results indicated that there were few differences between the two residence populations. Those differences that were found primarily favoured the independent living group, and included level of independent social skills, satisfaction with programs and residence, and supportiveness of one aspect of the client’s social network. However, residents in supported independent living programs continued to show considerable dependence on counselors for many aspects of their functioning. Overall, the participants in this program reported very similar attitudes and levels of satisfaction to those in the similar programs studied by Halpern et al. (1986). The relative lack of differences between programs has differing implications for each of them. While it shows that people in both programs are not isolated in the community, it also demonstrates that people in both programs rely on their counselors as the person turned to in the time of need. It is necessary to break this cycle if people are to be truly independent. The results of this study confirm the need to diversify clients’ social support networks beyond program staff

Topics: Community Psychology, Personality and Social Contexts
Publisher: Scholars Commons @ Laurier
Year: 1988
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Provided by: Scholars Commons
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