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The Experiences of Staff who Support People With Intellectual Disabilities

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Rachel D'Sa
Publication date2022
Number of pages215
Awarding Institution
  • Fletcher, Ian, Supervisor
  • Field, Stephen , Supervisor, External person
Award date2/08/2022
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis offers a contribution to the research on staff who support people with intellectual disabilities. The first section is a systematic review of studies which have measured the psychological construct of Emotional Intelligence (EI), of staff in services for people with intellectual disabilities. Six academic databases were searched and 15 empirical studies were identified for inclusion. The results gave an indication that staff EI may relate to aspects of their wellbeing, but the heterogeneity and variable quality across studies limited
the extent to which meaningful conclusions could be drawn. There was minimal evidence on the effects of training which aims to improve staff EI, and a notable lack of investigation into how staff EI relates to service-user outcomes. The issues which future research needs to address, in order to determine if EI is a useful target for service development, are discussed.

The second section describes a qualitative research project, which explored the
experiences of working relationships for staff who provide direct support to adults with intellectual disabilities. Six support workers, from supported living services in England, participated in semi-structured interviews, about their relationships with service-users and colleagues. An interpretative henomenological analysis was conducted, from which six interconnected themes emerged: (A) The essence of good relationships; (B) A trusting relationship as the vehicle for meeting service-users’ needs; (C) Belonging to the support
team; (D) The organisational context of relationships; (E) The social context of relationships; (F) “A fine balancing act”. The paper discusses how these findings build on existing research on the wellbeing of direct care staff, along with potential implications for service providers.

The third section is a critical appraisal which considers links between the literature review and research paper findings, discusses some future research directions which arise, and explores personal reflections on conducting the research project.