Multisensory storytelling did not result in high quality staff interactivity


Storytelling has a key role to play in a development and the extension of storytelling to people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMD) as an individualised activity, has been increasingly undertaken emphasising the sensory experience and the potential for social interaction.

The authors of this study appear generally positive to the approach, although the point out there is little in the literature about  it at present. They set out to look at whether it was possible to describe staff interactive style during multisensory storytelling using a global coding instrument.

The researchers worked with twenty partnerships of professional caregiver and person with profound intellectual and multiple disabilies usiing an observational study methodology. The caregivers received training in multisensory storytelling  and then told a multisensory story to their partner once a week for 10 weeks. The reserachers video recorded the first, fifth and last session and coded the staff interactive style using an adapted version of the Maternal Behavior Rating Scale (MBRS) a global rating scale designed to assess the quality of maternal interactive behaviour with young children with learning disabilities.

They found that the professional caregivers scored moderately on the MBRS and there was no change in this score over the period of the research. The researchers also found no relationship between staff interactive style and the characteristics of the person with learning disabilities or their professional caregiver partner.

The authors conclude that the Maternal Behavior Rating Scale can contribute to the understanding of staff interactive style during activities with people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities, although they were surprised to find only moderate scores on the interactive style dimensions of the scale. They believed the individualised multisensory story activity should have created an optimal situation for high-quality interaction, so they expected this to provide higher scores on the scale.

They conclude

Because the interactive style did not improve through the repetition of the activity either, these results might point to a need for staff training in achieving high-quality interaction during activities like MSST.

Staff interactive style during multisensory storytelling with persons with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities, Penne A et al.,  in  Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 56: 167–178.

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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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