Job Satisfaction of Staff in Unionized and Non-Unionized Community Residences for Persons with Developmental Disabilities

Article excerpt

Introduction

The move toward deinstitutionalization of developmentally disabled persons has brought about an increased awareness of the necessity to provide a continuum of community-based residential alternatives. The ideological thrust of the deinstitutionalization movement has been to develop the least restrictive residential environment for individuals with developmental disabilities. It is believed that providing more normalized living surroundings enhances both quality of life and participation in society (Bruininks & Lakin, 1985). A range of supportive living environments is provided for persons who cannot live independently, nor with family or friends. These residential settings typically strive to maximize residents' adaptive functioning and participation in the community.

Individuals with developmental disabilities who live in community residential settings constitute a heterogenous group and, therefore, require an array of habilitative services delivered in a broad range of supportive environments. Community residential settings vary in many ways including type of resident served, number of persons in the residence, staffing patterns, level of supervision, and program philosophy. Some of these settings include such options as foster family care (Intagliata, Crosby & Neider, 1981), supportive apartments (Fritz, Wolfensberger, & Knowlton, 1971), and group homes (Zigman, Schwartz & Janicki, 1984). Various theories address the attributes of community residential settings in contributing to resident autonomy and skill acquisition. Clearly, certain aspects of the social environment, such as normativeness and management style, are critical elements differentiating the effectiveness of residential settings (Bruininks, Kudla, Wieck & Hauber, 1980; George & Baumeister, 1981).

Another more specific factor mediating social environmental outcomes may be the staff employed within the settings. Staff is an essential component of any human service endeavor. This is especially true for staff working with persons who are developmentally disabled and live in community residences (Bergman, 1975). The staff fulfills many personal care needs of residents, provides supervision, and implements habilitation programs based on various theoretical principles. The quality and quantity of staff-resident interactions are critical ingredients in the care and improvement of residents (McCord, 1981). Residential staff appear to be a major determinant of the style and quality of life in such settings.

The characteristics, attitudes, and job satisfaction of persons employed in community residences should be considered when assessing the influence of these facilities on persons with developmental disabilities. Factors impacting negatively on a staff person's level of work satisfaction affect his/her effectiveness in providing quality services to residents. Factors which effect staff attitudes and involvement have long been associated with changes in resident functional level and adaptive behavior (Eyman, Demaine & Lei, 1979; Intagliata & Willer, 1982; Schalock, Harper & Genung, 1981; Zigman, Schwartz & Janicki, 1984). Research also has indicated that greater functional impairment and perceived lack of progress among developmentally disabled persons may be associated with increased staff dissatisfaction and turn-over and with fewer staff initiated interactions with residents (Baker, Seltzer & Seltzer, 1977; Lakin, Bruininks, Hill & Hauber, 1982; O'Connor, 1976; Zaharia & Baumeister, 1978). Staff activities and attitudes seem to be a basis of environmental variation influencing skill acquisition and community adjustment of residents and is an important dimension to study.

The present study was designed to investigate the level of job satisfaction of staff working in community residential facilities for persons with developmental disabilities. A purpose was to determine the level of job satisfaction based on three scales derived from a rational-empirical scale construction process. …