Group Homes for the Mentally Retarded and Ecological and Behavioral Study

Oct 1976 |
Online Library

This report is the second in a series of studies of the mentally retarded in Washington State who are served in identifiable, organized settings, both residential and otherwise. The first report describes the characteristics and service needs of those in state institutions. Later reports will describe clients and their service needs in nursing homes, congregate care facilities, foster homes and other community residences, and in special education and developmental and vocational training programs. Findings from these surveys, many already available to department staff, have been used extensively for program and budget planning. Both the operating and capital budget for the next biennium are anchored in the findings of these studies. This is a clear example of immediate application of research findings. Significant aspects of the long-range plan for the mentally retarded population in Washington are grounded in careful, methodologically sound research. While we now have answers to many questions on which there has been speculation, applying these findings highlights other questions which still must be answered by estimates and assumptions. This study describes the characteristics and needs of the group home residents: Using placement criteria applied by the Bureau of Developmental Disabilities, it permits matching clients with appropriate facility placement. These data do not answer other questions such as how effective group homes are in meeting their objectives, nor even the more limited question, what length of stay should be expected for mentally retarded placed in group homes. The number of group home beds needed is a function not only of the number of individuals in the population with characteristics suitable for such placement, but it is also a function of the length of time they will remain in these facilities. In this study, determination of client service needs was based primarily on staff interviews. In future studies, an attempt will be made to introduce additional independent service need assessments. . Another question needing a clear answer is "What supporting services are required by clients?" These are services furnished by other community providers: Such data are critical in planning a full continuum of services, planning that can respond to criticisms that the retarded, the mentally ill, and adult and juvenile offenders are released from institutions and other facilities without necessary complimentary services being present. What are these different service needs? What quantities are needed? In what locations? These answers would permit better planning at both state and community levels. A notable feature of the study is the use of detailed observational procedures developed earlier by Dr. Landesman-Dwyer. An extension of this technique is being considered in evaluating a new residential treatment center program authorized this year by the Washington Legislature.

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