Behavioral Interventions

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Volume 9 Issue 1 (January 1994), Pages fmi-fmi, 1-73

Training direct service staff in congregate settings to interact with people with severe disabilities: A quick, effective and acceptable program (pages 13-26)


An area of traditional as well as recent concern in congregate settings for people with severe disabilities is ensuring frequent social interactions between direct service staff and individuals who live in the residences. This study evaluated a program for training staff to interact frequently and positively across clients while in group situations in living units. The program involved a short classroom instructional session encompassing less than 1 h, followed by a maximum of 4 brief on‐the‐job observations and feedback sessions. Results indicated interaction rates of all 9 participating direct service staff increased above a normative criterion rate while participating in the training program. All staff also increased the proportion of their social interactions with clients that were positive in nature, and 6 of the 9 staff increased their distribution of interactions across clients. The improved interaction performances occurred when staff were provided with immediate on‐the‐job feedback regarding their performances as well as when provided with delayed feedback. Acceptability measures indicated the training program was well received by staff, although program components also were noted that may have affected staff acceptance differentially. Directions for future research are suggested in regard to further evaluating and increasing staff acceptance of effective training procedures.

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