Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Family studies

Publication Details

Sucessfully Submitted to the Department of Social Sciences and Law, Technological University Dublin, in partial fulfilment of the requirements leading to the award of Masters in Child, Family and Community Studies, 2014.


Day services play a large part in the community life of people with intellectual disabilities. The challenge for the Health Service Executive in its 2012 review of adult day services was to propose a modern service. The review culminated in a new approach called New Directions. This study aimed to explore experiences and perspectives of staff from the disability sector on the proposed new ways of working with people with intellectual disabilities including how they believe New Directions can best work. This objective was achieved by interviewing twelve staff (including some volunteers) and managers from a disability organisation. At the time of the study all twelve participants were directly involved in the implementation of New Directions. Findings highlighted the best aspects of current day services that should be merged with New Directions such as a sense of belonging, connectedness and companionship. The findings also highlighted concerns that people with intellectual disabilities may be lonely. Further concerns were expressed about their friendships in general, both before and since New Directions. However, the research also demonstrates that people with intellectual disabilities are also very sociable. The study established participants‟ perspectives on person-centeredness and families emerged as somewhat challenged by New Directions. Framing person-centeredness in partnership with families is recommended going forward. The findings stated that people with intellectual disabilities bring awareness, diversity and joy to communities. However, New Directions emerged as a policy that communities may not be entirely ready for. Educating communities around inclusion was explored in this study. Finally, how New Directions can best work was examined in detail with both management and staff. Managers reflected on organisational culture, change management and the leadership now needed whilst staff considered changes to their roles, the challenges and the training now required. Identifying and coordinating supports within the community emerged under role changes, challenges and the skills now needed. Managers also referred to the need for this training under New Directions. The importance of communication with people with intellectual disabilities, their families, staff members and the wider community in relation to New Directions emerged throughout this study. The concept of support for all involved in New Directions was also a recurring theme in this research. Conclusions were drawn and recommendations presented in view of research and the findings from this study. Supporting people into the positions that create friendships, social, educational and employment opportunities were cited as the best ways to maximize New Directions. This study found strong support for New Directions with some concern there may be an „over emphasis‟ on community. Finally, this research recommended that similar studies are carried out with service users, families and community organisations.