Video-based contact programme improves support staff’s interactions with people with learning disabilities


The nature of the interaction between support staff and people with learning disabilities in supported housing is a key factor in quality of life. This study looked at the impact of a video-based contact programme on support staff’s interactions with clients.

Seventy-two support staff who supported 12 individuals with visual and learning disabilities took part in a training programme and four individual video-feedback sessions. The quality of interactions between staff and clients was measured in an AB-design across subjects, with two baseline and three intervention observations.

The researchers found changes over the lifetime of the intervention which included significant increases in the frequency with which support staff confirmed signals of clients; the proportion of initiatives taken by clients that were responded to by support staff  and also the ‘affective mutuality’ as a quality of the interaction. They found no significant increase in client responsiveness however.

The authors conclude that measurable improvements in the quality of interactions between staff and clients with visual and learning disabilities took place alongside the Contact programme, but given the small scale of the study and the short time in which changes were measured, that further research regarding the generalisability, long-term effects and effects on quality of life was needed.

Effects of video-feedback interaction training for professional caregivers of children and adults with visual and intellectual disabilities, Damen S., et al., in Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 55: 581–595


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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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