Front line managers remain key to quality outcomes in supported accommodation for people with learning disabilities


One of the key findings of the early research into community services for people with learning disabilities who had lived in long stay institutions, was that the quality of first line management was one of the main factors affecting outcomes.

This Australian study set out to look at the work of front-line managers in supported accommodation to see whether this key role continues, and to explore in more detail, the nature of their work.

A previous study in Minnesota produced a job analysis suggesting there were 142 competencies required of effective front-line managers  and the researchers used this as a template for looking at the work of front line managers in equivalent positions in Victoria, Australia.

They used the competencies in the Minnesota study as the basis of a semi-structured interview and carried this out with a sample of 16 high-performing house supervisors and 5 more senior managers.

They found that 92% of the original competences were retained, despite the fact that there had been changes in language and specific terminology reflecting the different local context.

They suggest their study supports the idea that the front-line manager’s job is

underpinned by core competencies and that the role merits further study.

Competencies of front-line managers in supported accommodation: Issues for practice and future research, Clement T & Bigby C in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 37, 2 , 131-140

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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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