Clear policy and procedure required to guide social interaction between support staff and people with congenital deafblindness


A recent review of literature suggested that interactions between support workers and people with learning disabilities with congenital deafblindess were lacking both in quantity and in quality. The authors of the current small study wanted to look in more detail at the perspectives of the support staff on their interactions with this group of people.

The authors analysed data from interviews with 8 disability support workers to identify common themes.

They found three key themes emerging from the interviews which they suggest support and elaborate on the findings of previous studies.

The themes were:

  • the construction of client happiness
  • the rationalisation of client disengagement
  • imperatives of the staff role.


The authors conclude from their discussion of these findings that there is a need for provider organisations responsible for services to people with congenital deafblindness to develop very clear policy and procedure documents to make the importance of social interaction between staff and clients explicit.

Interacting with adults with congenital deafblindness: The experiences of disability support workers, Prain M et al., in Journal of intellectual and Developmental Disability, 37, 1, 27-34

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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