Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Resilience & Professional Quality of Life in Staff Working with People with Intellectual Disabilities & Offending Behavior in Community Based and Institutional Settings

Staff in forensic services for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are expected to deal with a wide range of emotional challenges when providing care. The potential impact of this demanding work has not been systematically explored previously. This article explores the professional quality of life (QoL) and the resilience (hardiness) of the staff in this setting. The Professional QoL questionnaire and the Disposional Resilience Scale were completed by staff (n=85, 80% response rate) in the Norwegian forensic service for ID offenders. Responses from staff working in institutional settings were compared to those from staff in local community services. Staff in the local community services had higher resilience scores compared to the staff in the institutional setting, (t=2.19; P<0.05). However in the other QoL and resilience domains there were no differences between the staff in the two settings. The greater sense of resilient control among community staff may be a function of both the number of service users they work with and the institutional demands they face. Even though these participants worked with relatively high risk clients, they did not report significantly impaired quality of life compared to other occupations.

...People with intellectual disabilities (ID) who are also offenders are some of the most difficult health service users to treat and historically they have also received little attention from researchers or the wider society.The research that has been conducted has concentrated on offenders with mild ID within secure placements. Offenders with a moderate or more severe level of ID seldom enter the criminal justice system (CJS), as they are diverted into mental health services, ID services, or forensic mental health services. As a result, there is a dearth of studies exploring the needs and living conditions of offenders with moderate ID compared with offenders with mild ID.

Offenders with ID have many characteristics in common with offenders in the general population., They tend to be young and male and have experienced social disadvantage, unstable environments, and financial instability. There is little research on how the characteristics of people with ID who are labeled offendersmay differ from those with ID who do not offend. Holland et al. proposed that two groups of offenders with ID can be distinguished according to whether they are known to the ID services. Amongst the smaller group who are known to services the term offence may often be confused with challenging behavior.

The Norwegian system has quite restrictive policies regarding diversion of offenders with ID from the criminal justice system. There has been some focus on intellectual impairment among offenders, but the government’s priorities are focused elsewhere on, for instance, building more prison accommodation, encouraging multidisciplinary cooperation in preventing recidivism, developing alternatives to imprisonment alongside better rehabilitation services and evidence-based research...

Full article at:

1St. Olavs University Hospital, Forensic Department, Brøset, Trondheim, Norway, UK
2University College of Sør-Trøndelag, Department of Social Education, Trondheim, Norway, UK
3St. Olavs University Hospital, Forensic Unit for Offenders with Intellectual Disabilities, Brøset, Trondheim, Norway, UK
4University of Liverpool, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, Health & Community Care Research Unit, Liverpool, UK
St. Olavs University Hospital, Forensic dep. Brøset, Postbox 1803, Lade, 7440 Trondheim, Norway. Phone: +47.992.44771.

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