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Staffing numbers and active support: a case study

Roger J. Stancliffe (Associate Professor of Disability Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, Lidcombe, Australia)
Anthony D. Harman (PhD student at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, Australia)
Sandy Toogood (Based at Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board & Bangor University, Bangor, UK)
Keith R. McVilly (Principal Research Fellow at Deakin University, Burwood, Australia)

Tizard Learning Disability Review

ISSN: 1359-5474

Article publication date: 23 May 2011



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of staffing levels (one or two staff) on the amount of assistance provided to residents in one group home, and associated levels of resident engagement in activities prior to and following the implementation of active support.


Data on staff assistance and resident engagement were gathered by direct observation across six pre‐test and post‐test 80‐minute sessions, using palmtop computers. Percentage of all non‐overlapping data, an index of effect size, was used to analyse these data.


There was no clear benefit from additional staffing prior to active support training, in terms of staff assistance or resident engagement in activity. However, at post‐test, having two staff yielded increased staff assistance, but with limited evidence of increased resident engagement, despite more continuous staff assistance.


This is the first active support study to examine the impact of staffing levels on resident engagement and staff assistance. Implications for service management and research are presented.



Stancliffe, R.J., Harman, A.D., Toogood, S. and McVilly, K.R. (2011), "Staffing numbers and active support: a case study", Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 21-30.



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