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The Development and Utility of a Program Theory: Lessons from an Evaluation of a Reputed Exemplary Residential Support Service for Adults with Intellectual Disability and Severe Challenging Behaviour in Victoria, Australia

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Background  Adults with severe challenging behaviour can achieve good ‘quality of life’ outcomes in small supported accommodation services. Yet, the research indicates that they typically experience poorer outcomes than other adults with intellectual disability. This raises questions about the degree to which research has informed program design and implementation.

Methodology  Data from an evaluation of a residential support service outlines a program theory for supporting people with intellectual disabilities and severe challenging behaviour.

Results  One aspect of the program theory, the practice framework, which details how support staff should interact with service‐users, is illustrated through documentary, observational and interview data.

Conclusions  Policy and practice should be informed by the knowledge we have about what works. Describing a program theory demonstrates the utility of developing a program theory for human service organizations and underscores the value of practitioners being familiar with the findings of relevant, good‐quality research.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Social Work & Social Policy, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Vic., Australia

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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