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Enabling Self‐determination for Older Workers with Intellectual Disabilities in Supported Employment in Australia

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Background  Promoting self‐determination is recognized to be an essential element of disability service provision; however, the extent to which older people with intellectual disability working in supported employment are enabled to make intentional decisions about retirement is not well understood.

Methods  This research explored the views of older people with disability and service providers to understand the elements that impact on people’s decision to retire. Seventy‐six people participated in semi‐structured interviews, including 33 older people with intellectual disability working in supported employment, 10 people who had retired and 30 service providers.

Results  Service providers strongly supported the right of people to retire; however, people with disability almost never reported the ability to make self‐determined choices about retirement. Barriers to self‐determination included an association between retirement, poor health and meaningless activities, which was perpetuated through structural service gaps.

Conclusion  Although disability services and service providers emphasize the importance of promoting self‐determination for people with disability, those working in supported employment are not currently enabled to make self‐directed choices about retirement. To address this requires more flexible services, better information about retirement, exposure to real experiences and assistance to express preferences and participate in problem solving throughout the lifespan.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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