Tizard Research Projects

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Uncovering the staff culture

Uncovering the staff culture of good quality supported accommodation for people with intellectual disabilities

Research Team: Dr Julie Beadle-BrownDr Jill Bradshaw, Christine Bigby (La Trobe University, Australia) and Lisa Richardson.
This research study is funded by the School for Social Care Research (SSCR) and is being carried out by researchers from the Tizard Centre, UoK in collaboration with La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.


Background: Through the use of ethnographic and action research methods Bigby et al in Australia have begun to conceptualise the informal culture of group homes. Currently, the conceptualisation developed by Bigby et al has only been explored in poor and some better homes; as such the applicability of the framework to services that are providing the people they support with demonstrably ‘good’ outcomes remains unexplored. Understanding staff culture in such settings will support the development of approaches to changing the culture in services and thus potentially improving the outcomes for the people they support.

Aims: The study will explore and develop the cultural conceptual framework provided by Bigby et al; in particular considering how it applies to supported accommodation settings providing good outcomes for people with intellectual disabilities. We will also look at how the culture in the service setting relates to that of the wider organisation.

Methods: The research will employ the following methods:

  1.  A researcher conducting participant observations in three different supported accommodation settings over a 12 month period.
  2. Naturalistic and more formal interviews with staff and managers.
  3. Review of organisational documents, policies, procedures and mission statements.
  4. Interviews with senior management to establish their views of culture in supported accommodation settings and the wider organisation.

There will be three organisations taking part; each providing one supported accommodation setting for the focus of the research. The quality of each setting will be assessed to ensure staff are providing skilled support and good outcomes for people.

Analysis of field notes from participant observations and data collected from each organisation/setting will form three case studies. By including the multiple case studies from the work in Australia we will be able to look across all them all to determine the dimensions of culture for supported accommodation settings providing a range of outcomes.

Timeline and progress: We are currently seeking ethical approval from the Social Care Research Ethics Committee and the project is due to start recruitment of services from October 2016 with the aim for participant observations to take place for 12 months from January 2016.


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Project findings

The research is currently ongoing and all information is under the research section of the project.