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Handle with Care: Staff Experiences of Difficulties Working with People with Intellectual Disabilities
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. (ORGID)
Department of Social and Behavioral Studies, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden. . (ORGID)
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work. (ORGID)
2016 (English)In: Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, ISSN 1741-1122, E-ISSN 1741-1130Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Providing care and support to people with intellectual disabilities (ID) is a complex challenge, the complexity arising fundamentally from different organizational conditions. Analyzing the specific characteristics of the difficulties experienced by staff could generate a new understanding of the organizational prerequisites of working within intellectual disability services. This article examines how administrators in social services (n=70) and habilitation staff in public healthcare (n=40) in Sweden experience difficulties working with people with ID. A content analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data generated from a larger web survey was conducted. Descriptive statistical analyses were also used to complement the qualitative analyses. The results reveal that staff experiences of difficulties in working with people with ID could be categorized in four typological themes: (1) structure, (2) profession, (3) relationships, and (4) collaboration. It was found that experience of difficult situations in social services and healthcare organizations does not necessarily correspond to work dissatisfaction or unclear goals. On the contrary, it is argued that handling this plurality within a specific organizational context is a fundamental aspect of professionalism. The different characteristics of the organizations in the present study reflect two different institutional logics. While the administrators mainly operate within an administrative logic, based on a regulatory framework, the habilitation staff operate within a therapeutic logic, based on a cognitive framework. Consequently, they have their own specific norms and rule systems, which influence when and to what extent everyday situations are experienced and defined as difficult.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Collaboration, intellectual disabilities, difficult situations, human service professions
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-118359OAI: diva2:912649
Available from: 2016-03-17 Created: 2016-03-17 Last updated: 2016-03-17

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Ineland, Jens
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