Quality of life and supported employment: A case study of three women with developmental disabilities

Authors: Staines, G., L., Blankertz, L., Magura, S., Bali, P., Madison, E. M., Spinelli, M.,Horoqitz, E., Guarino, H.,Grandy, A., Fong, C., Gomez, A., Dimun, A., & Friedman, E.
Year Published 2004
Publication The American Journal of Occupational Therapy
Volume 58
Number 4
Pages 455-465
Publisher The American Occupational Therapy Association Inc.

Programs aimed at enhancing the quality of life for individuals with disabilities are on the rise. This includes work. To understand the impact of new models of vocational training, it may be instructive to look at sheltered work, the long standing model. The job coach model of supported employment helps individuals with disabilities work in the community. The case for a positive relationship between supported employment and quality of life is not well understood. Research aimed at understanding a person's experiences with supported employment and other factors that impact quality of life may identify whether or not the consumers' needs are really being met.


The purpose of this study was to better understand the experience of supported employment and a wide range of other factors that affect quality of life for people with developmental disabilities.


The setting for the study included various employment settings where each participant worked as a member of an enclave.


The study included nine participants. Three women with developmental disabilities, three job coaches and either a family member or group home manager for each. All women were white, and able to make their own decisions including informed consent. The women had previously worked at a sheltered workshop and were currently working in a enclave of 8 to 10 adults that was supervised by a job coach. The most frequent type of work performed by the enclave included cleaning at various places and entry level food services.

Data Collection

Open-ended interviews and on site observations were used to collect data. The interviews were guided by a script and recorded. Afterwards they were transcribed. The women were also observed while working as a member of an enclave. On site field observations lasted about 2 hours. The job coaches and family members were also interviewed. The data was analyzed using a constant comparative method. All interview and observational data were reviewed and coded. Some quotes were also selected to serve as exemplars of each woman's quality of life experience.


There was no control or comparison condition.


The three women preferred enclave work over the workshop setting. The participants indicating satisfaction with work assignments and relationships with others in the enclave. Policies and regulations like social security, impacted quality of life.


People with developmental disabilities can and do form their own opinions when give the opportunity. Professionals must be in tune with this fact and find ways to help make sure consumer voices are heard.

URL http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15315252
Disabilities Intellectual disabilities
Populations White / Caucasian | Female
Outcomes Other
NIDILRR Funded Not Reported
Research Design Case reports
Peer Reviewed Yes