Homeliness in group homes for people with intellectual disabilities: using participatory visual methods to develop and test the feasibility of a checklist to enhance care


Supervisor: Dr Deborah Chinn

Non-accademic partner: Choice Support

Around 46,290 people with intellectual disabilities live in group homes in England. In 2015 the Transforming Care programme was set up to raise the quality of these homes, so that all people with intellectual disabilities, whatever their level of support needs can enjoy opportunities for inclusion in their local communities. One of the aims of this programme is to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities ‘truly feel that where they live is their home’ (Bubb, 2014: 12).

The government has a responsibility to monitor and regulate the quality of these homes, and increasingly invites service users to contribute their views of services. Nevertheless, but it is not easy to assess how much residents with intellectual disabilities feel ‘at home’ where they live. Research with older people and people with mental health problems shows that these service users’ experience of home can affect their mental wellbeing and levels of meaningful activity. However, people with intellectual disabilities have rarely been asked about what makes them feel their residence is ‘homely’. The focus of this project is therefore the concept of ‘homeliness’ as experienced by people with intellectual disabilities living in group homes.

The project will be informed by principles of participatory research which aims to hand power from researchers to the disabled people taking part. The PhD student will use an arts based research method called Photovoice to involve people with intellectual disabilities in reflecting on the homeliness of their residence. This will form the basis of a checklist to be co-designed by service users, family and paid carers and professionals, that can be used to evaluate the homeliness of other care homes. The student will explore whether this checklist is easy to use by people with intellectual disabilities and if it works effectively in practice.

This studentship would be suitable for a candidate with a background either in social sciences (psychology, sociology, anthropology), humanities (geography, art and design), health sciences, health service research, social work or social care. Experience of working with people with intellectual disabilities, excellent interpersonal and communication skills and an understanding of the importance of reasonable adjustments in working with people with intellectual disabilities are essential for this PhD.