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It’s my home : residents’ views of the power dynamics in a community living home Lewis, Fiona Claire 2003

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It's My H o m e : Residents' V i e w s of the Power D y n a m i c s in a Community Living H o m e By F i o n a Claire Lewis B.A., S i m o n Fraser University, 1988 B.S.W., T h e University of Victoria, 1999  A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER  p F SOCIAL W O R K In  T H E FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (School of Social W o r k a n d Family Studies)  W e accept this thesis a s conforming to the required standard  Dr. P a u l e McNicoll  JX./Tim Steirrton  liynn Price  T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F BRITISH C O L U M B I A A u g u s t 2003 © F i o n a Claire Lewis, 2003  UBC Rare Books and Special Collections - Thesis Authorisation Form  Page 1 of 1  In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia, I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y . I f u r t h e r a g r e e t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d b y t h e h e a d o f my department o r by h i s o r h e r r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n .  Department o f The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Vancouver, Canada  Columbia  IWqUsh 15; 2 0 0 3 .  http://www.library.ubc.ca/spcoll/thesauth.html  14/08/2003  Abstract In this qualitative study, I explored male residents' views of the power d y n a m i c s in a community living h o m e for people with disabilities. T h e purpose of the study w a s to develop an understanding of how the men experienced power in the setting of their home. In particular, I explored whether they e x p e r i e n c e d power a s oppression or a variable, productive force. I also e n d e a v o u r e d to understand how the participants r e s p o n d e d to the power of others s u c h a s the staff in the h o m e or the a g e n c y m a n a g e m e n t and what role the staff a n d a g e n c y played in empowering the residents. Four m e n participated in the study which took place over a 6 week period. T h e y lived in a h o m e m a n a g e d by a non-profit agency.  I used a methodology  which c o m b i n e d group interviews with observations. T h e data from the interviews a n d observations were a n a l y z e d using the techniques of g r o u n d e d theory. M y analysis produced four main findings. T h e first w a s that power w a s dispersed a m o n g the residents, the residential staff and the a g e n c y board a n d m a n a g e m e n t . T h e s e c o n d finding w a s that empowerment occurred a s both a n internal a n d external process. T h e third finding w a s that the o u t c o m e s of a n empowering interaction included power sharing, collaboration, negotiation, and improved quality of life for the residents. T h e final finding w a s that relationships with r o o m m a t e s were of greater significance to the participants than relationships with staff or with the agency. I propose an empowerment model which describes the p r o c e s s of e m p o w e r m e n t a s requiring three elements: the opportunity to exercise power, motivation to exercise power, a n d ability. T h e model depicts potential o u t c o m e s of an interaction when only two of these three elements are present. I also d i s c u s s environmental and psycho-social factors which impact on e a c h of the elements. T h i s study h a s implications for social work policy a n d practice in terms of steps that organizations and individuals c a n take to empower clients. It also has implications for social work theory in that it demonstrates that a synthesis of e m p o w e r m e n t theory and post-structuralism is possible and instructive. for further research are also described.  Areas  iii  TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract  "  T a b l e of Contents  iii  List of Figures  iv  Acknowledgements  v  CHAPTER 1  CHAPTER 2  CHAPTER 3  CHAPTER 4  Introduction and Context 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Literature Review  1 1 -5  1.3 Theoretical Framework  8  Methodology  16  2.1 P u r p o s e  16  2.2 S a m p l e  16  2.2 Data Collection  18  2.3 Data Analysis  20  2.4 Ethical Issues 2.5 Credibility of Findings  21 24  Results  25  3.1 Descriptive Information  .25  3.2 Findings from interviews  25  3.3 Findings from observations  35  3.4 Discussion  37  C o n c l u s i o n and Implications  44  References  49  Appendix A  Consent Form  57  Appendix B  Interview Question G u i d e  60  Appendix C  Residents' R e c o m m e n d a t i o n s  61  IV  List of Figures  Figure 1  T h e empowerment p r o c e s s - contributors and o u t c o m e s  38  V  Acknowledgements  I wish to extend my sincere appreciation to the four participants of m y study who graciously w e l c o m e d m e into their h o m e a n d a n s w e r e d m y m a n y questions.  I a m also grateful to the B . C . Association for Community C a r e for funding part of my research.  T h a n k y o u to friends, family, a n d c o l l e a g u e s w h o supported m y efforts a n d nurtured m y ideas.  F i o n a Lewis  1  T h e 1980's a n d 1990's were d e c a d e s of significant c h a n g e for people with disabilities in North A m e r i c a and E u r o p e . T h e deinstitutionalization m o v e m e n t 1  s a w t h o u s a n d s of people with disabilities m o v e from large institutions to smaller h o m e s in the community.  More than just a physical move, deinstitutionalization  w a s intended to bring about significant c h a n g e in the lives of people with disabilities. T h e m o v e to community w a s a c c o m p a n i e d by goals of integrating people with disabilities back into society a n d giving them more control over their lives than w a s possible in large, overcrowded institutions. Policy m a k e r s also claimed that community living could s a v e m o n e y over expensive institutional care. Deinstitutionalization w a s followed by the rapid growth of service delivery s y s t e m s d e s i g n e d to operate residential services, provide respite c a r e to families, offer employment services, a n d provide daytime supports to people with disabilities. T h e p r o c e s s w a s not without hurdles including opposition to deinstitutionalization from community m e m b e r s a n d trade unions, inadequate funding in the community, a n d a lack of resources to serve those labelled a s having c o m p l e x n e e d s . T h e community living sector in C a n a d a is now a multibillion dollar sector, serving t h o u s a n d s of people a n d employing m a n y more. A s the sector h a s matured, people with disabilities, families, professionals working in the system, government funding bodies and a c a d e m i c s have b e g u n to evaluate the o u t c o m e s of deinstitutionalization and determine whether the m o v e to community h a s lived up to the p r o m i s e s m a d e . Deinstitutionalization w a s intended to e n a b l e people with disabilities to take their place in society a s full citizens, entitled to self-determination and the s a m e rights and f r e e d o m s a s other C a n a d i a n s . T h e vision w a s that local communities would w e l c o m e back those w h o h a d b e e n institutionalized a n d that e a c h community would benefit from i n c r e a s e d diversity.  y  I use the term 'people with disabilities' in recognition of the preference for 'people first' language amonq many disability groups in Canada. There is, however, a movement in Canada and Europe to use the term 'disabled person' to recognize that the person is disabled by society and its social norms rather than by any inherent impairment or disability. The participants of my study had no strong preference either way. 1  2  T h i s qualitative study explores the role of power in the lives of people with disabilities living in a community living h o m e . T h e goal of self-determination for 2  people with disabilities is inextricably linked with the concepts of control, choice a n d power.  E m p o w e r m e n t of people with disabilities is often considered an  objective of community living support services that aim to facilitate the selfdetermination of the people they serve. In evaluating the effectiveness of these services, it is essential to examine whether people with disabilities feel they have power a n d control over their lives. T h e purpose of this study w a s to develop an understanding of how people with disabilities experience power in a community living h o m e . Specifically, I wanted to find out if power w a s experienced by my participants a s a constant force or a s variable a n d reciprocal. I w a s also interested in how residents responded to the power of the residential staff, the a g e n c y that m a n a g e d the h o m e and the other residents. M y interest in this topic s t e m s from my experience of working in community living h o m e s for over 10 years. Although I no longer work in the sector, I remain connected through a network of colleagues and friends. A s an observer of the sector, I have s e e n a number of significant c h a n g e s take place in the last 10 years. T h e s e c h a n g e s included the introduction of p r o c e s s e s s u c h a s unionization, accreditation, contract reform, and professionalization.  I wondered  if service users had input into these p r o c e s s e s , if they were aware of workload c h a n g e s for their staff, if staff rights were overtaking resident rights, a n d if their lives were changing for the better a s a result of s o m e of these initiatives. In contemplating these issues and their impact on individuals receiving services, I c a m e to realize that power is the d y n a m i c that mediates how these i s s u e s affect individuals' quality of life. If an individual has power a n d control over her life, s h e c a n influence others and bring about o u t c o m e s that s h e desires. T h i s realization led to my focus on residents' views of the power d y n a m i c s in community living homes.  1 use the term community living home to refer to the home that the study participants lived in. They selected this term to describe their home, which is also known as a group home or residential service.  2  3  M y review of the literature on this topic revealed a gap in inquiry regarding service users' views of empowerment. While m u c h h a s b e e n written about the theory a n d practice of empowerment, little is known about the impacts of e m p o w e r m e n t from the point of view of h u m a n services clients. This gap is all the more apparent in the c a s e of people with disabilities who, while often researched, are less frequently involved in qualitative research in which they c a n e x p r e s s their opinions and ideas.  Relevance  to social work  E m p o w e r m e n t and disability i s s u e s are both areas of d e e p c o n c e r n to social workers. Social workers use e m p o w e r m e n t theory and practice in their work with individuals, groups, neighbourhoods a n d communities. T h e r e is an extensive body of literature on e m p o w e r m e n t a s a social work concept a n d most social workers support both the goal a n d p r o c e s s of empowerment (Simon, 1990). S o c i a l workers h a v e a long history of involvement with people with disabilities. In C a n a d a , the role of government social workers h a s often b e e n to determine eligibility for services, to refer people with disabilities to appropriate services a n d to monitor those services. T h e influence of the social worker in the life of a person with a n intellectual disability is often substantial. S o c i a l workers write a n d approve service plans for individuals, assist in the resolution of c o n c e r n s about services, approve requests for financial and equipment assistance, liaise with families and investigate a b u s e allegations. In addition, they are e m p l o y e d providing direct support to people with disabilities. T h e r e is considerable potential for social workers to act a s allies with people with disabilities, both within government a n d outside of it (Mackelprang & Salsgiver, 1996). Despite this potential, people with disabilities have s o m e t i m e s experienced social workers a s gatekeepers rather than a s a d v o c a t e s in their struggles for recognition and services (Ministry of Children and Family Development, 2001). Studies s u c h a s this o n e c a n a d v a n c e a partnership between social work a n d the disability m o v e m e n t by educating social workers about the views of people with disabilities, encouraging alliances between social  4  workers a n d disability advocates, a n d e n h a n c i n g the profile of disability i s s u e s within s c h o o l s of social work.  My standpoint In any research project, the researcher is an active agent, producing knowledge, ideas, a n d conclusions a n d viewing the participant's words through her unique lens. A s such, it is important that my standpoint or ways of knowing be presented at the outset. I a p p r o a c h e d this study from a feminist, poststructuralist perspective. T h e s e two perspectives suggest that knowledge is local in nature and is, ideally, created through an egalitarian relationship between researcher a n d research participant (Van D e n Bergh, 1995; G e r g e n a s cited in Riger, 1992). Other aspects of the feminist approach that I incorporated into this study included recognizing the importance of context (Fawcett, 1998), giving voice to subjective experiences (Morris, 1992; V a n D e n Bergh, 1995) a n d working in partnership to transform social structures (Van D e n Bergh, 1995). third perspective influencing m y work is the social model of disability.  A  Oliver  (1992) s u m m a r i z e s the social m o d e l view in this way: "Disability cannot b e abstracted from the social world which p r o d u c e s it; it d o e s not exist outside the social structures in which it is located a n d independent of the m e a n i n g s given to it. In other words, disability is socially produced" (p. 101). T h e social m o d e l provides a counterpoint to the medical m o d e l of disability, which s e e s disability a s e m b o d i e d , tragic a n d requiring treatment. While the social m o d e l h a s b e e n critiqued for its absolute denial of the physical reality of certain impairments (Morris, 1992; Humphrey, 2000), the value of the model in highlighting physical a n d social barriers to full participation cannot be denied. T h e social model contributed to the value b a s e that I bring to my research. In particular, it helped m e resist the traditional r e s p o n s e of trying to 'fix' disabled people or help them c o p e with their disability In declaring my biases and values, I n e e d to clarify that I a m not labeled a s having a disability. A s a non-disabled researcher, I w a s aware that my study participants might s e e m e a s an outsider and perhaps a s a voyeur or parasite (Humphrey, 2000). T h e r e is considerable variation a m o n g people with  5  disabilities in their r e s p o n s e s to non-disabled people wishing to participate in the disability rights m o v e m e n t or b e c o m e allies of the movement.  I describe later  how I tried to develop an egalitarian relationship with my study participants. I believe that the people in my study viewed m e a s a partisan or ally, possibly b e c a u s e m y partner h a s a disability a n d is well-known a s a disability a d v o c a t e in the community in which I did my study. Nevertheless, I remained mindful of my status a s a non-disabled researcher a n d tried to be sensitive to the impact this might h a v e on m y study.  Layout of this report T h i s introduction is followed by a review of the literature relevant to the research question a n d an outline of the theoretical framework behind the study. C h a p t e r 2 d e s c r i b e s the methodology u s e d in the study. T h i s includes detailed descriptions of the study design a n d the procedures u s e d to collect, organize a n d analyze the data. Chapter 2 also includes a discussion of the ethical i s s u e s that a r o s e during the research. C h a p t e r 3 presents in detail the findings of the study followed by a d i s c u s s i o n of the results. I c o n c l u d e in C h a p t e r 4 by d i s c u s s i n g the implications of the study results for social work practice, policy, theory a n d research. Literature Review Related to Disability Issues R e s e a r c h into the e x p e r i e n c e s of people with disabilities h a s frequently c o n c e r n e d quality of life issues. M y review of the literature revealed a considerable amount of quantitative research investigating the quality of life of individuals receiving residential supports (Felce, Lowe, & J o n e s , 2002; Gregory, Robertson, K e s s i s s o g l o u , E m e r s o n & Hatton, 2001; Conroy, 1999). T h e s e researchers have investigated the characteristics of residential and daytime supports to people with disabilities a n d their relationship to quality of life or perceived satisfaction. Felce, L o w e & J o n e s (2002) found that the quality of life of group h o m e residents w a s strongly a s s o c i a t e d with their own abilities. Quantitative observation methods a p p e a r to be prevalent in studies involving people labeled a s having profound or s e v e r e disabilities (For example: Brooks, 1991).  6  Qualitative studies f o c u s e d o n soliciting users' views are m o r e c o m m o n in research involving people with physical or mild cognitive disabilities. T h e s e studies h a v e also f o c u s e d on satisfaction or service quality (Kellahar, 1995; Atkinson, 1998; V e r n o n & Qureshi, 2000). Interviews a n d focus groups are the most c o m m o n methodologies u s e d with this client group (Mattison & Pistrang, 2000; Craig, Craig, Withers, Hatton & Limb, 2002; Matysiak, 1998). T h e importance of client-worker relationships in the lives of people receiving residential support services h a s received much attention in the literature. C l e g g , S t a n d e n a n d C r o m b y (1991) investigated the effectiveness of various interactive strategies o n the r e s p o n s e s of people with intellectual disabilities. Hastings and Remington (1994) explored the influence of staff behaviour on people with learning disabilities who exhibit challenging 3  behaviours. Mattison a n d Pistrang (2000) found that staff departures h a d a significant impact on people with learning disabilities. Other writers h a v e also reported that relationships with staff are critical to residents' experiences of group h o m e living (Solas, 1996; D e m p s e y & F o r e m a n , 1997; Lordan, 2000; H a g n e r & Marrone, 1995; C l e g g , S t a n d e n & J o n e s , 1996; Brown & R i n g m a , 1989). R a c i n o ' s (1991) study of community living a g e n c i e s s h o w e d that mutuality a n d reciprocity between staff m e m b e r s a n d residents did o c c u r a n d were o n e a s p e c t of 'good practice' in the community living sector. A recent study of e m p o w e r m e n t a n d mental health found that relationships were a critical mediating factor in the e m p o w e r m e n t p r o c e s s (Nelson, Lord & O c h o c k a , 2001). T h e writings from the disability m o v e m e n t are more c o n c e r n e d with the political a s p e c t s of the movement, particularly disability rights and emancipation. Writers with disabilities a n d disability studies a c a d e m i c s h a v e raised the issue of power a s central to the experiences of people with disabilities. A number of writers h a v e conceptualized disability a s oppression with its constituent a s p e c t s of power, domination, a n d h e g e m o n y (Abberley, 1987; Oliver, 1990; Charlton, 1998; Lordan, 2000). Within the disability studies literature, the concept of power In the United Kingdom, where Mattison and Pistrang conducted their study, the term 'learning disabilities' is used to describe disabilities which, in North America, are labeled, 'intellectual disabilities'.  3  7  is d e s c r i b e d a s including choice, self-determination, and control (Brown & R i n g m a , 1989; W e h m e y e r , 1998; Smull, 1989; R e e s , 1991; H a g n e r & Marrone, 1995). Charlton defines oppression a s a p h e n o m e n o n of power in relationships between people a n d groups. P o w e r is a n integral element of self-determination, a central goal of the disability movement. T h u s within the disability discourse, power is a critical component in understanding the experiences of people with disabilities. Within the psychological literature, a s e n s e of power a n d control h a s b e e n recognized a s having important impacts on individuals' health a n d wellbeing (Prilleltensky, 1994). While disability activists present m a n y e x a m p l e s of how oppression plays out in their lives, they are particularly critical of residential services, maintaining that service provider a g e n c i e s often h a v e considerable power over people with disabilities a n d have a vested interest in maintaining this power (Oliver, 1990; Charlton, 1998; Bleasdale, 2001; Fawcett, 1998). R e e s (1991) a n d Hasenfeld (1992) extend this criticism to h u m a n services in general. Furthermore, it h a s b e e n s u g g e s t e d that community-based group h o m e s have b e e n less than s u c c e s s f u l in enabling the empowerment a n d full inclusion of people with disabilities (Brown & Ringma, 1989; Smull, 1989; H a g n e r & Marrone, 1995). It is worth noting here that research involving the empowerment of people with disabilities h a s generally involved people with physical disabilities (see, for example, Brown & Ringma, 1989; Brooks, 1991) or mental illness (see, for example, Nelson, Lord & O c h o c k a , 2001). I found no qualitative studies of e m p o w e r m e n t involving people with cognitive disabilities. It is also important to note that m u c h of the disability literature is written by people with physical disabilities or s e n s o r y impairments. P e o p l e with cognitive disabilities are represented mainly through the writings of a c a d e m i c s w h o h a v e studied them. In m a n y respects, the position of disability rights activists is more accurately d e s c r i b e d a s the position of o n e sub-category of people labeled a s having a disability. T h e literature on disability i s s u e s is s k e w e d by the fact that people with cognitive disabilities have minimal opportunities to present their perspective in written, a c a d e m i c form.  8  Theoretical Framework  Empowerment theory In examining the question of people with disabilities' views of the power d y n a m i c s in their homes, I u s e e m p o w e r m e n t theory but a p p r o a c h it from a poststructuralist perspective. E m p o w e r m e n t theory is central to social work practice, yet it h a s numerous m e a n i n g s a n d methods within the profession. It c a n b e referred to a s an ideology, a goal a n d a p r o c e s s ( R o n d e a u , 2000). E m p o w e r m e n t c a n also b e characterized according to its manifestations: through attitude, through knowledge, a n d through behaviour (Koren, DeChillo, & Friesen, cited in D e m p s e y & F o r e m a n , 1997). It is a multi-dimensional construct that operates at three levels: an individual level, a service level and a community/political level ( D e m p s e y & Foreman). Definitions of e m p o w e r m e n t are abundant. H a s e n f e l d (1992) defines empowerment as, "...a p r o c e s s through which clients obtain resources - personal, organizational, and community - that enable them to gain greater control over their environment and to attain their aspirations" (p. 270). Gutierrez (1990) defines it as, "....a p r o c e s s for increasing personal, interpersonal, or political power so that individuals c a n take action to improve their life situations" (p. 149). Finally, Beresford (1999) claims, "[empowerment] is c o n c e r n e d with increasing the actual power people have and their personal capacity to use it." (p. 272). Hasenfeld's definition is useful for its focus on the importance of resources. While both Hasenfeld and Gutierrez point to the various milieux in which empowerment c a n occur, their definitions imply that e m p o w e r m e n t should bring about positive c h a n g e or should be u s e d for g o o d . Beresford's definition is less prescriptive and suggests that the desired outcome is whether people can use their power rather than the purpose for which they u s e it. Gutierrez' a n d Beresford's definitions imply that clients have power, in the form of internal resources, that can be increased. H a s e n f e l d (1992) writes that empowerment of clients in h u m a n service a g e n c i e s must o c c u r simultaneously on three levels: the worker-client level, the organizational level, a n d the policy level. C a d e l l , K a r a b a n o w and S a n c h e z (2001) s u g g e s t that the individual a n d environmental a s p e c t s of e m p o w e r m e n t are  9  inseparable from o n e another - e m p o w e r m e n t at o n e level inevitably fosters e m p o w e r m e n t at the other level. This multi-dimensional aspect of e m p o w e r m e n t is evident in the lives of people with disabilities living in community living h o m e s . T h e y live their lives within the context of a n agency, a g o v e r n a n c e structure, a group of people (roommates a n d staff), a family (for some), a n industry, a government policy, a n d a neighbourhood. T h e worker-client relationship is an essential a s p e c t of e m p o w e r m e n t theory ( S o l o m o n , 1976). D e m p s e y (1997) writes that, "the most problematic current issue for empowerment theory to deal with is the issue of whether e m p o w e r m e n t c a n be influenced by staff practices and support" (p. 300). T h e e m p o w e r m e n t literature highlights the n e e d for staff to be e m p o w e r e d a s a precursor to empowerment for clients (Rees, 1991; Hasenfeld, 1992; Gutierrez, 1992). Both Gutierrez and Hasenfeld point to w a y s in which e m p o w e r e d workers c a n s h a r e power with clients, e m p o w e r clients through the teaching of skills, a n d a d v o c a t e for clients within the a g e n c y a n d the community. J a c k (1995) argues that power cannot b e given, only taken; therefore, staff c a n only assist others in self-empowerment.  S i m o n (1990) s u g g e s t s that the only role for staff in  e m p o w e r m e n t is to "aid a n d abet" the p r o c e s s (p. 32). E m p o w e r m e n t theory is strongest a s a practice theory. Its c o n c e p t s provide considerable direction a s to how h u m a n service workers c a n intervene to improve a client's situation. W o r k e r s c a n assist clients to take collective action to bring about c h a n g e (Brooks, 1991; Gutierrez, 1992; Hasenfeld, 1992) a n d to improve their material conditions (Oliver, 1990; Croft & Beresford, 1995; Jack, 1995). C o n s c i o u s n e s s - r a i s i n g is a primary social work task in facilitating e m p o w e r m e n t (Simon, 1990; M o r e a u , 1990). S o l o m o n (1976) identifies a series of steps that workers c a n take to a d d r e s s the direct and indirect 'power blocks' e x p e r i e n c e d by powerless clients. W o r k e r s c a n also take action at the organizational level to e m p o w e r a g e n c y clients. T h e s e actions c a n include resisting professionalization (Croft & Beresford, 1995), obtaining client input o n organizational policies (Hasenfeld, 1992), a n d establishing interdependence of policy a n d practice (Payne, 1997). R e e s (1991), Gutierrez (1992) a n d Brown &  10  R i n g m a (1989) have further argued that empowering human service workers should b e a n organizational goal if the organization wants its workers to e m p o w e r clients (i.e. powerless workers will b e less effective in empowering their own clients). A g e n c y staff c a n also e m p o w e r clients by sharing information about a g e n c i e s policies a n d client entitlements (Hasenfeld, 1992). After studying c o n s u m e r s ' a n d professionals' views of empowerment, B o e h m a n d S t a p l e s (2002) concluded that empowerment perceptions and definitions are socially constructed. T h e y r e c o m m e n d the development of practice guidelines for specific c o n s u m e r groups in recognition of the fact that a "one size fits all" a p p r o a c h to e m p o w e r m e n t is inadequate. D e m p s e y and F o r e m a n (1997) state that empowerment h a s attracted limited research interest and highlight the n e e d for research into whether e m p o w e r m e n t c a n b e influenced by staff practices. Baistow (1995) refers to the "dearth of research o n users' e x p e r i e n c e s a n d views of empowerment" a n d laments the invisibility of users' views (p. 41). Furthermore, many disability activists insist that voice must be given to the subjective experiences of people with disabilities (Morris, 1992; B a c h , 1994; C a m p b e l l , 1997; W a r d & Flynn, 1994; Charlton, 1998).  Critiques  of Empowerment  Theory  T h e question of "Who e m p o w e r s w h o m ? " is a controversial o n e .  Many  writers view e m p o w e r m e n t a s something that c a n b e d o n e to s o m e o n e , usually by a helping professional (Solomon, 1976; Lordan, 2000, H a g n e r & Marrone, 1995). Priestley (1999) e c h o e s the opposing view of disability activists w h e n he states, "The m e s s a g e from the disabled people's movement is that e m p o w e r m e n t is not something that c a n b e 'done to' disabled people by others" (p. 165). Rather, empowerment should c o m e only from within (Charlton, 1998). Prilleltensky (1994) occupies the middle ground, arguing that e m p o w e r m e n t may take p l a c e a s a result of a n individual's efforts to empower herself or a s a result of interventions from outside. Both Baistow (1995) a n d S o l a s (1996) are highly critical of empowerment a s a construct in h u m a n services, arguing that the term  11  n e e d s to b e e x a m i n e d a n d defined more clearly to prevent it from b e c o m i n g a n empty p h r a s e u s e d by professionals to help perpetuate the status quo. E m p o w e r m e n t theory that f o c u s e s on the role of the worker in 'empowering' h a s b e e n criticized for reinforcing the hierarchical nature of the client-worker power relationship ( P e a s e , 2002). In a conceptual framework where power is s e e n a s something to be given to others, workers have the power to d e c i d e w h o will b e e m p o w e r e d to d o what. E m p o w e r m e n t theory also e n h a n c e s the role of the professional by constructing a powerful-powerless dichotomy that automatically a s s i g n s the client to the role of the o p p r e s s e d ( P e a s e , 2002). S o l a s (1996) criticizes empowerment theory for being both paternalistic and prescriptive. Modernist views of e m p o w e r m e n t theory subscribe to a z e r o - s u m notion of power, confining the players in empowerment to a win/lose transaction. T h i s view automatically establishes a power struggle in h u m a n service situations whereby the worker must lose s o m e of her power in order to e m p o w e r the client. A n additional critique of e m p o w e r m e n t is that it is viewed a s always g o o d . M a c d o n a l d and M a c d o n a l d (1999) note that not all seizures of power produce o u t c o m e s that all would endorse. E m p o w e r m e n t theory a s s u m e s that e m p o w e r m e n t h a s positive o u t c o m e s . Yet, for e m p o w e r m e n t to result in only beneficial u s e s of power, we must a s s u m e that the process is being controlled by other forces a n d h e n c e not truly empowering at all. M a n y difficulties with e m p o w e r m e n t theory stem from the w a y power is conceptualized. Gutierrez (as cited in Miley & D u B o i s , 1991) d e s c r i b e s power a s "the ability to get what o n e needs; the ability to influence how others think, feel,, act or believe; a n d the ability to influence the distribution of resources in a social system s u c h a s a family, organization, community, or society" (p. 3). W h i l e this definition describes what power is, it d o e s not s p e a k to how it operates, how it m o v e s through relationships and systems. Post-structuralist notions of power c a n assist us to understand better the p r o c e s s e s of empowerment.  The Post-Structuralist  View of  Empowerment  Post-structuralists argue for a shift away from meta-theories to local narratives a n d pragmatic strategies (Corker & S h a k e s p e a r e , 2002). T h e y reject  12  essentialism a n d s e e p h e n o m e n a s u c h a s oppression a s a condition that is both variable a n d relative. Post-structuralism forms part of a wider world view known a s post-modernism. Post-modernism is a way of conceptualizing society which questions modernist m o d e s of thought, particularly the notion that social progress through technical rationality will inevitably lead to social a n d individual liberation (Irving, 1994). Post-modernists view knowledge a s socially constructed a n d d o not accept that there are universal truths (Payne, 1997). Rather, knowledge is often defined by those in power (Riger, 1992). Irving captures the insecurities e n g e n d e r e d by the post-modern world in describing it a s "elusive, nebulous, decentered and decentering" (Irving, 1994, p. 19). T h e post-structuralist view rejects the notion of power wielded solely by an authority or state in a top-down, unidirectional relationship. Rather power is something that is negotiated at micro-levels (Bleasdale, 2000; S o l a s , 1996; Fawcett, 1998). Foucault (1980a) maintains that power is not always a p h e n o m e n o n of a n individual or group's domination over another: individuals are simultaneously undergoing a n d exercising power. P o w e r is not in limited supply; therefore, zero s u m calculations of power transactions are unnecessary. However, to s a y that power is abundant a n d diffuse is not to argue that it is evenly distributed ( P e a s e , 2002). Foucault (1980d) asserts that power cannot be m a d e s e n s e of outside of e c o n o m i c p r o c e s s e s a n d the relations of production. In this paper, I will adopt C o o p e r ' s (1994) definition of power as: "the production, facilitation or maintenance of particular outcomes, p r o c e s s e s or social relations." (p. 452). T h i s view of power a s a productive force follows from Foucault's (1980b) description of power a s m u c h more than an oppressive a n d repressive force: W h a t m a k e s power hold g o o d , what m a k e s it a c c e p t e d , is simply the fact that it doesn't only weigh on us a s force that s a y s no, but that it traverses a n d p r o d u c e s things, it induces pleasure, forms knowledge, p r o d u c e s discourse. It n e e d s to be considered a s a productive network which runs through the whole social body, m u c h m o r e than a s a negative instance w h o s e function is repression (p. 119).  13  Foucault d e v e l o p e d the term 'biopower' to refer to the omniscient a s p e c t s of power. T r e m a i n (2002) describes Foucault's biopower a s "...the strategic t e n d e n c y of relatively recent forms of power/knowledge to work toward an increasingly c o m p r e h e n s i v e m a n a g e m e n t of life: both the life of the individual a n d the life of the species" (p. 32). T h e techniques of power are both institutionalized a n d ritualized to the point that they have a normalizing or 'disciplinary' influence o n our d a y to d a y lives (Corker & S h a k e s p e a r e ; 2002). In relation to caring, Fox (1995) contends that the discourses of the caring professions create, "...a disciplinary vigil of care which is more to do with power a n d control than with the values of love, trust a n d giving" (p. 108). Foucault's concept of biopower highlights the potentially disciplinary nature of empowerment. In the c a s e of a h u m a n service worker empowering a client, the sharing of power o c c u r s within a framework of prescribed w a y s that the client c a n act. T h i s prescription may b e c o m m u n i c a t e d directly (ex. T h e s e are your options...) or indirectly through the various methods of socialization that we encounter everyday. E m p o w e r m e n t then b e c o m e s a normalizing, disciplinary apparatus. It is here that the techniques of e m p o w e r m e n t b e c o m e essential to the outcome. If the act of empowering involves the sharing of knowledge then, o n c e again, the power of the worker lies in deciding which a n d how m u c h knowledge to share. T h e s a m e applies to the teaching of skills. E m p o w e r m e n t loses s o m e of this disciplinary function, however, when it c o m e s from within the individual rather than from external s o u r c e s . Yet, e v e n when e m p o w e r m e n t c o m e s from within, it is initiated or nurtured by our encounters with others. F o r example, I may feel e m p o w e r e d after successfully negotiating an agreement with s o m e o n e or after meeting s o m e o n e who h a s faced the s a m e challenges a s m e . Nevertheless, empowerment that c o m e s from within is less circumscribed a n d restrictive than empowerment from the outside. E m p o w e r m e n t a s a n internal p r o c e s s results in a wider range of options for the individual or at least a range of options that is consistent with one's identity a n d values.  Furthermore,  14  e m p o w e r m e n t c a n spark an internal c h a n g e p r o c e s s in which the individual learns about the exercise of power a n d acts on this knowledge. A dogmatic a p p r o a c h to post-structuralism effectively undercuts e m p o w e r m e n t a s a worthwhile e n d e a v o u r in h u m a n services. O n e m a y well ask, what is the point of empowerment if it is simply another normalizing technology of power? C o o p e r (1994) warns against theorizing power in a way that " d a m p e n s struggle." (p. 453). S h e r e c o m m e n d s the development of a theoretical framework that allows for resistance and transformation. Her productive view of power allows for new forms of power to be created and substituted. In terms of h u m a n service work, S o l a s (1996) s u g g e s t s that power c a n b e transformed by worker and client collaborating to subvert existing power relationships. Foucault (1980c) states, "...there are no relations of power without resistances." (p. 142). E m p o w e r m e n t is a tool that allows us to e n g a g e with power strategically. E m p o w e r m e n t c a n result in increased a c c e s s to the resources, knowledge, a n d skills n e c e s s a r y to resist or create new forms of power. E m p o w e r m e n t m a y also entail creating s p a c e in the network of power - I c a n c h o o s e not to exercise power in a given situation and, thereby, create s p a c e for another to exercise power. B e c a u s e power is productive, h u m a n service workers c a n never h a v e complete control over the e m p o w e r m e n t p r o c e s s . T h e y are simply the trigger in a n ever-developing chain of events. In looking at empowerment through a post-modern lens, I s e e it a s a state of mind rather than a s a m e a s u r a b l e outcome. E m p o w e r m e n t a n d its effects cannot be m e a s u r e d objectively although I would argue that power in operation c a n be o b s e r v e d . E m p o w e r m e n t a s an outcome c a n be demonstrated through actions a n d behaviours but also through self-efficacy or a belief in o n e ' s ability to c h a n g e or influence a situation ( D e m p s e y & F o r e m a n , 1997).  Summary E m p o w e r m e n t is a theory which h a s m a n y meanings within the h u m a n services.  In many ways, it is a contested concept a n d in d a n g e r of being c o -  opted by those who wish to preserve the status quo. Nevertheless, it is a n important theory within social work a n d is the stated goal of many h u m a n service  15  interventions. Post-structuralism and its analysis of power have m u c h to contribute to our theorizing about empowerment.  I have argued that post-  structuralism c a n assist us to critically explore what we m e a n by e m p o w e r m e n t a n d how to practice it a s social workers.  16  Method  Purpose T h e p u r p o s e of this study w a s to understand the p h e n o m e n o n of power a s experienced by people with disabilities who live in community living h o m e s . I wanted to find out if residents experienced power a s an oppressive, unidirectional p h e n o m e n o n or a s a productive, variable force. I w a s also interested in how residents resisted or a c c o m m o d a t e d the power of staff, the a g e n c y a n d the other residents in the home. T o answer the questions p o s e d above, I u s e d a qualitative r e s e a r c h d e s i g n . Maxwell (1996) states that qualitative methods are appropriate to studies that aim to understand a particular context within which participants act.  The  qualitative design enabled m e to focus on the subjective experiences of people with disabilities. T h i s study, therefore, a d d r e s s e s a n identified g a p in the research involving people with disabilities. T h e tradition of enquiry u s e d in this study w a s grounded theory. G r o u n d e d theory c a n be u s e d to study a situation in which "...individuals interact, take actions, or e n g a g e in a p r o c e s s in r e s p o n s e to a p h e n o m e n o n " (Cresswell, 1998. p. 56). Cresswell notes that, "The intent of a grounded theory study is to generate or discover a theory, a n abstract analytical s c h e m a of a p h e n o m e n o n , that relates to a particular situation" (p. 56). T h e resulting s c h e m a should b e grounded in the data or rooted in the experiences of the participants.  Sample I u s e d a form of purposeful sampling called intensity sampling.  Cresswell  (1998) d e s c r i b e s intensity sampling a s the u s e of "information-rich c a s e s that manifest the p h e n o m e n o n intensely but not extremely (p. 119). M o r s e (1994) states that intensity sampling involves selecting participants who are authorities on the research subject. Originally, I intended to involve in the study people with disabilities w h o are generally viewed a s powerless, d u e to the nature of their disability a n d the attached stigma. However, m a n y of the people w h o are most impacted by the severity of their disability h a v e extreme difficulty expressing  17  t h e m s e l v e s verbally. A s s u c h , it would h a v e b e e n difficult to gather sufficient verbal data from them for a qualitative study.  I, therefore, f o c u s e d on recruiting  participants w h o lived in a community living h o m e and who experienced a mixture of physical a n d cognitive impairments. A s I intended to d o a series of sequential, group interviews a n d observations, I wanted to focus on o n e group of residents w h o knew e a c h other a n d s h a r e d similar experiences in terms of their living situation. Consequently, I d e c i d e d to recruit o n e group of people living in the s a m e home. T h u s the unit of sampling w a s the household rather than the individual residents. D u e to the nature of the observations planned, all residents of the h o m e n e e d e d to agree to participate in order to b e included in the study. A small s a m p l e size is appropriate to a qualitative study in which the aim is to develop a n in-depth understanding of a particular p h e n o m e n o n . T h e goal is not to involve sufficient participants that the results c a n be generalized a s in a quantitative study. Rather, the goal of qualitative research is to understand a p h e n o m e n o n or c a s e in all of its diversity a n d complexity (Sandelowski, 1995). T h e participants were recruited through a community living a g e n c y that m a n a g e s a number of 4-resident h o m e s . T h e a g e n c y director r e c o m m e n d e d three h o m e s in which the residents would be likely to meet m y criteria. With the c o n s e n t of the a g e n c y I m a d e an appointment to visit the h o m e s a n d tell the participants about the study. I informed them that the study w a s about their perceptions of the power dynamics in the h o m e . T h e h o u s e m a n a g e r w a s present for the initial meeting. E a c h group had a few d a y s to decide whether or not they wanted to participate. T h e residents of the first h o m e I a p p r o a c h e d declined to participate in the study. T h e residents of the s e c o n d h o m e a g r e e d to participate immediately a n d were prepared to sign the consent forms at the first meeting. I reviewed the form with them a n d the residents signed the forms in the p r e s e n c e of the manager. T h e consent form w a s written using simplified g r a m m a r a n d vocabulary. A s o n e of the residents is unable to read, I presented him an audio-taped version of the consent form. T h e consent form is attached a s A p p e n d i x A . O n c e the residents of the s e c o n d h o m e agreed to participate, there w a s no n e e d for m e to visit the third h o m e .  18  Data  Collection T h e data collection methods I u s e d in this study were observations a n d  interviews. T h e combination of interviews a n d observations is recognized a s a rigorous data collection method (Adler & Adler, 1994). I o b s e r v e d life in the h o m e on two separate o c c a s i o n s (during a meal and at a resident's committee meeting). T h e purpose of the observations w a s two-fold. T h e first w a s to inform the questions to be a s k e d during the s u b s e q u e n t group interviews. It w a s anticipated that the residents may have trouble comprehending abstract conceptualizations of power s o the observations provided m e with s o m e concrete e x a m p l e s that were d i s c u s s e d later in the interviews. T h e s e c o n d p u r p o s e of the observations w a s to observe interactions between individuals, particularly interactions that a p p e a r e d to involve the assertion or subversion of power and/or control. A s r e c o m m e n d e d by K e m p (2001), I w a s prepared to function at different points along the participant-observer continuum. During the observation of the resident committee meeting, I simply o b s e r v e d a n d took notes, not participating in the meeting in any way. However, during the meal I w a s a more active participant a n d e v e n joined in a g a m e of cards after the meal. After e a c h observation, I m a d e further notes on the events a n d m y impressions. I c h o s e to do group interviews with the participants b e c a u s e of the t e n d e n c y for individual interviews to b e s e e n a s oppressive a n d isolating for people with disabilities (Oliver, 1990). G r o u p interviews also h a v e the potential to reveal the social interactions which provide context for statements m a d e in the interview (Kvale, 1996). T h e group interviews I conducted g a v e the participants opportunities to share experiences and develop a collective c o n s c i o u s n e s s . W a r d a n d Flynn (1994) maintain that s u c h an approach can be empowering for people with disabilities. I opted to d o a series of repeated interviews to e n a b l e m e to build rapport with the participants (Mactavish, M a h o n , & Lutfiyya, 2000) a n d to explore the research questions in greater depth. I conducted 3 group interviews, lasting 1-2 hours e a c h . In addition, e a c h resident w a s given the option of a one-on-one interview, in c a s e he w a s not comfortable d i s c u s s i n g s o m e i s s u e s in front of the group. O n e resident c h o s e to have a n individual  19  interview. T h e four interviews a n d two observations took place in the participants' h o m e over a period of 6 w e e k s . All four interviews were audio-taped with the participants' permission. At the choice of the residents, the group interviews were conducted in the dining room of the home. T h e staff person on shift w a s usually in another room of the h o u s e during the interview.  The  individual interview b e g a n in the dining room but concluded in the den/office o n c e other residents b e g a n preparing food in the nearby kitchen. T h e group interviews were semi-structured. Although I prepared questions in a d v a n c e of e a c h interview ( S e e s a m p l e in Appendix B), I w a s o p e n to d i s c u s s i n g topics raised by the residents a n d would adjust questions accordingly. A s the participants h a d varying cognitive abilities, I often h a d to rephrase the questions to facilitate understanding. I u s e d a variety of questioning techniques a s r e c o m m e n d e d in the literature o n research involving p e o p l e with disabilities. T h e s e included requesting e x a m p l e s (Prosser & Bromley, 1998), using a mixture of closed and o p e n - e n d e d questions (Mactavish et al., 2000), avoiding either/or questions (Mattison & Pistrang, 2000), a n d asking participants to focus on an event that occurred in the recent past (Prosser & Bromley, 1998). A s I had worked for the a g e n c y in the past a n d knew s o m e of the history of the different h o m e s , I w a s able to refer to past incidents that the residents h a d b e e n involved in. A n example of this w a s a recent decision to c h a n g e the n a m e of the h o m e involved in the study. T h i s provided a concrete example about which I could question the residents. T h e m o o d of the interviews w a s informal and relaxed. S o m e of the participants left the room periodically to get coffee or go outside to s m o k e a cigarette. O n e participant would routinely leave about half way through the interview a n d not return. Another w a s late joining o n e of the interviews a n d m i s s e d another d u e to a medical e m e r g e n c y .  In discussion with the participants,  it w a s d e c i d e d that the interviews would take place in the evening. T h i s time a p p e a r e d to not work well for o n e resident who often s e e m e d very tired. D u e to scheduling conflicts, a better time could not b e established. Although I intended to start e a c h interview with a reminder that participation w a s entirely voluntary, it  20  b e c a m e clear to m e that this w a s not n e c e s s a r y . T h e participants demonstrated that they felt they could leave the interview whenever they wanted.  Data Analysis T h e audio-tapes from the interviews were transcribed verbatim. I b e g a n the analysis by reading through e a c h transcript to get a s e n s e of general t h e m e s . I then u s e d a form of a data analysis, c o m m o n to grounded theory, known a s o p e n coding.  O p e n coding segments, analyses, c o m p a r e s and conceptualizes  data (Clegg et al., 1996). O p e n coding resulted in the development of categories of data. O p e n coding w a s then followed by axial coding in which I looked for linkages between the categories of information. T h i s involves regrouping the categories of information in different w a y s to highlight interactions, strategies, or conditions that influence the p h e n o m e n o n being studied (Cresswell, 1998).  As  the categories are refined, they necessarily b e c o m e more abstract (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). T h e goal of m y data analysis w a s to generate a detailed account of how power is experienced by the participants. T h e o p e n coding method of data analysis helps ensure that the researcher stays close to the data (Clegg et al.). I b e g a n analyzing the data before all the interviews were complete.  This  e n a b l e d m e to further explore emerging t h e m e s in subsequent interviews. A s the analysis p r o c e e d e d , I d e v e l o p e d a number of explanatory frameworks that were later d i s c a r d e d a s they did not a p p e a r to accurately reflect the participants' e x p e r i e n c e s a n d meanings. O n c e I developed a preliminary analysis of the data, I offered to meet with the participants to get their feedback on the analysis. T w o of the participants a s k e d to meet with m e individually to give their feedback.  I elected to not obtain  their f e e d b a c k on the data itself. O n e participant is unable to read s o it would h a v e b e e n very time-consuming to review the data with him. I w a s also c o n c e r n e d that the participants who could read would b e unhappy with how they 'sounded' in the verbatim transcripts. Verbatim transcripts have a t e n d e n c y to portray the s p e a k e r a s less eloquent than many of us perceive ourselves.  I felt  that this type of review a n d d i s c u s s i o n of the transcripts would take m o r e time  21  than I had available. In presenting the data analysis to the two participants, I tried to use a number of diagrams to e n h a n c e their understanding.  These  feedback s e s s i o n s were very productive a n d resulted in s o m e significant  *  c h a n g e s to the analysis.  Ethical  Issues O n e of my main ethical c o n c e r n s in conducting this study w a s in regard to  the different cognitive abilities of the participants. A s I did not know any of the participants prior to the study, I w a s unaware of their cognitive abilities at the outset. It s o o n b e c a m e apparent that o n e of the participants had no cognitive impairment, however, the c o m p r e h e n s i o n abilities of the other three w a s difficult to a s s e s s . A n interesting dynamic that d e v e l o p e d during the study w a s that o n e of the participants b e g a n to assist m e with this. A s he knew his r o o m m a t e s better than I did, he would paraphrase my questions to the others or would c o m e up with a concrete, relevant example to e n h a n c e their understanding. I also had difficulty gauging how loudly I n e e d e d to s p e a k in order for the resident with the hearing impairment to hear m e . T h e other m a n assisted with this a l s o by loudly repeating s o m e of my questions to his roommate. T o c o m p e n s a t e for c o m p r e h e n s i o n or memory problems in the participants, I reminded them at the start of e a c h s e s s i o n that their answers would be kept in confidence. A s I w a s working with people with cognitive impairments, I n e e d e d to continually c h e c k out their understanding of my questions a n d the study procedures. At o n e point, I a s k e d the participants how I should describe them in m y final report, which I planned to submit for publication. I explained that I w a s c o n c e r n e d that if I described them in too m u c h detail, their confidentiality would be threatened a s readers within the community living movement might g u e s s that I w a s referring to their home. I s u g g e s t e d that I could disguise their identities s o m e w h a t by not describing their disabilities accurately. O n e participant e x p r e s s e d clearly that he w a s not c o n c e r n e d about confidentiality a n d would b e offended if I disguised him in any way. Another participant who h a d a cognitive impairment had difficulty understanding my question. Although I tried to explain ii in different ways, he did not s e e m to understand that describing e a c h participant  22 accurately could result in readers knowing who participated in my study. I decided that as I had promised to preserve the participants' confidentiality, I would describe them in a way that disguised their identity as a group. The difference in cognitive abilities among the participants also led to one participant dominating some of the discussions. I expected this to be one of the outcomes of the group interview methodology. I attempted to counteract it by directing some questions specifically to one of the other participants. This was useful as it also seemed to cue the dominant member that he needed to give some space for someone else to speak. Carey (1994) suggests that one of the pitfalls of focus group techniques is the potential impact of conforming and censoring. Although I did not see any evidence of participants censoring themselves, one participant in particular seemed anxious to conform to the others. He would often agree with what another person had said and seldom offered a contrary opinion. Two other participants, however, had no difficulties disagreeing with each other and did so on a number of occasions. In retrospect, I might have minimized some of these effects by asking each individual directly to participate in an individual interview. Another major ethical consideration I faced in this study was regarding my power as a researcher. Within the constraints of time, money, and institutional obligations, I tried to conduct this study within an emancipatory framework described by Priestley (1999) and Lather (1991). This framework entails surrendering claims to objectivity, using research to assist people to change their situations, building reciprocity between the researcher and the participants, adopting a plurality of data collection methods suitable to the participants, and giving voice to the personal as political. Stone and Priestley (2001) argue that the inherent power relationship between researcher and researched is exacerbated in the case of a non-disabled person researching disability issues because of the unequal power relationship between disabled and non-disabled people in society. Some techniques I used to minimize my power during the research process included approaching interviews as a dialogue (Lather, 1991), conducing sequential interviews to allow the development of rapport (Lather),  23  attending to m y body language during the interview, avoiding the u s e of jargon, a n d recycling the analysis back to the participants for feedback. Despite these m e a s u r e s , I recognize that I remained in a powerful position vis a vis the participants throughout the study. A s Priestley (1999) reminds us, "The ability to scrutinize is premised upon power" (p. 54). A n emancipatory a p p r o a c h challenges researchers to conduct actionoriented research that is of benefit to the participants. A s I d e s i g n e d my study, I thought about w a y s that it could bring about c h a n g e s in the participants' lives. I d e c i d e d to offer to facilitate a workshop for a g e n c y staff about the power d y n a m i c s in the h o m e s they worked in. After the research w a s complete, I presented a 3 hour workshop to 18 staff, s o m e of w h o m worked in the h o m e where I c o n d u c t e d my research. Another w a y in which I g a v e something back to the participants w a s in helping them to formulate s o m e specific r e c o m m e n d a t i o n s to the a g e n c y about improvements they wanted to s e e in their h o m e . I d e v e l o p e d these recommendations with the participants at the e n d of the last of interview a s it b e c a m e clear that they wanted to s e e s o m e specific c h a n g e s in terms of the rights a n d responsibilities of residents. I did a joint presentation to the a g e n c y board of directors with 2 of the participants.  In this  s e s s i o n w e presented my research findings a s well a s the residents' list of recommendations. T h e s e activities contributed to reciprocity between m e a n d the participants, an essential c o m p o n e n t of emancipatory research (Lather, 1991). A difficulty that I encountered in working within the emancipatory paradigm w a s confusion about my dual role a s a researcher a n d a social worker ( M a s s a t & Lundy, 1997). Although I w a s not faced with any disclosures or r e s p o n s e s requiring immediate social work intervention, I did find myself using standard social work communication techniques s u c h a s paraphrasing, validating, a n d summarizing the participants' r e s p o n s e s . M y behaviour c h a n g e d the f o c u s of the interview at times from information gathering to supporting participants.  I think  that if I h a d kept the interviews m o r e f o c u s e d , I m a y h a v e obtained additional relevant data.  24  Credibility  of  Findings  Morse (1994) writes that one method of ensuring rigor in qualitative research is to maintain a detailed audit trail. I kept detailed records of all aspects of the research project including data collection, data analysis process, and interview question development. In addition, I kept a research journal in which I recorded my impressions after each interview and observation, my thoughts on the analysis process, and emerging concepts about the findings. A common threat to the credibility of qualitative studies is the potential for the researcher to misinterpret the data or to allow his/her bias to colour the interpretation of the data (Maxwell, 1996). The sampling protocol I used minimized this threat to some extent. As I studied all the residents of one home, I avoided selecting only those participants who represent an extreme view of the phenomenon I was studying. Member checks of the data analysis also countered bias that I may have brought to the analysis. In addition, I asked a social work professor to read an unmarked version of the transcripts and present to me her own analysis of the major themes. There was substantial agreement between my analysis and hers. Lather (1991) notes that false consciousness can place a limit on the value of member checks and can affect data trustworthiness. Triangulation (the selection of a variety of data collection methods) can reveal false consciousness in that an additional method may produce data that contradicts self-report data (Lather). In my study, the observations provided an opportunity for me to note behaviour that appeared to contradict what participants said about themselves in the interviews (Kemp, 2001). In such cases I was reluctant to become the omnipotent researcher, imposing my interpretations on someone else's reality. In the spirit of dialogue, I tried to explore some of these contradictions with the participants.  25  Results  Descriptive  Information  T h e m e n I interviewed live in a four bedroom community living h o m e in W e s t e r n C a n a d a . T h e h o m e is funded by the local health authority, which p a y s for the staff support, and the housing arm of the provincial government, which subsidizes the accommodation costs. T h e h o m e is m a n a g e d by a local nonprofit a g e n c y (referred to a s the 'association' by the residents) that m a n a g e s eight other h o m e s . T h e a g e n c y d e v e l o p e d the h o m e over 20 y e a r s ago.  The  h o m e is staffed approximately 14 hours per d a y with o n e staff m e m b e r o n per shift. T h e r e is a 2 Vz hour period during the early afternoon w h e n no staff are working. T h e residents are also alone during the night. T h e y use an e m e r g e n c y call s y s t e m during the night if o n e of them n e e d s assistance. T h e responsibilities of the staff include personal care for the residents, h o u s e cleaning, laundry (for two residents), cooking and assisting with grocery shopping. I briefly d e s c r i b e below the 4 participants of my study. S o m e details (including names) have b e e n c h a n g e d to protect their confidentiality. M i c h a e l is 55 a n d h a s lived in the h o m e for 20 years. Prior to moving into the h o m e , he lived with his parents. M i c h a e l h a s a cognitive impairment a n d is unable to read, however, his verbal communication is clear. Michael is quite community minded and is involved with various clubs and other voluntary activities. H e is very mobile, using the local transit s y s t e m to m o v e around the community.  Michael's parents are now d e c e a s e d but his sister lives in a nearby  town. J a s o n is 4 9 and has lived in the h o m e for 5 years. Before moving in to the home, h e lived in a care facility. J a s o n h a d a stroke a number of years a g o a n d h a s epilepsy. H e is also hard of hearing. J a s o n a p p e a r s to live a fairly sedentary life a n d did not s e e m to e n g a g e in many activities outside the home. H e likes music and watches sports on television. J a s o n is the most physically able of the residents a n d is often a s k e d to help out with tasks around the h o u s e s u c h a s  26  putting away groceries or changing light bulbs. His sleep patterns a p p e a r e d to b e irregular with the result that he w a s often extremely tired in the evenings. Chris is 6 0 years old a n d h a s lived in the h o m e for 15 years. H e a p p e a r s to have h a d a stroke at s o m e point a n d h a s s o m e mobility problems.  Chris  reported that he lived in his own h o m e prior to moving into the community living home. Chris d o e s not e n g a g e in m a n y activities outside the home. H e enjoys playing c a r d s a n d s e e s his family quite often. Chris is known to be quite taciturn a n d this w a s the c a s e during the time I w a s in the home. His voice is, therefore, silent in the results described below. However, he did appear to follow the d i s c u s s i o n in the interviews a n d indicated agreement at points by nodding his h e a d . Chris m i s s e d o n e interview d u e to a medical e m e r g e n c y a n d w a s not h o m e for a s e c o n d one. S t e v e n is 34 a n d is the newest resident in the home. H e lived in a care facility briefly before moving into the h o m e 3 Va years a g o . Prior to that, h e lived with his parents. Steven has muscular dystrophy a n d u s e s a power wheelchair for mobility. H e is quite involved in the operation of the home a n d assists with grocery shopping. H e also d o e s s o m e volunteer work in the community a n d visits friends often.  Findings from interviews T h i s section presents the four major findings of the study.  1. Power is dispersed. T h e participants reported that power w a s dispersed a m o n g themselves, the agency, a n d the staff. N o o n e p e r s o n or group routinely h a d more power than another. T h e participants claimed that the agency, through its board, h a d power over specific aspects of the home:  "it's within their power to d e c i d e how  many should live in this house" (Steven). Michael described the a g e n c y as, "running the household". T h e participants also reported that the a g e n c y h a d the power to s c r e e n n e w residents, referee disputes between residents, a n d respond to requests from residents. T h e a g e n c y also h a d the power to control m a n y of the written p r o c e s s e s that impacted o n the residents' lives. W h e n a s k e d about  27  the form u s e d for staff evaluations, S t e v e n c o m m e n t e d , "I though the evaluation w a s very badly written b e c a u s e it's s o bureaucratic, the language, a n d it, you can't understand the questions....! had to translate it into real language, a n d that's a failure on the part of the association." Michael also e x p r e s s e d that the a g e n c y h a d control over the flow of information when he w a s a board m e m b e r a n d that they failed to give him a c c e s s to information. Y o u were on the board for a while weren't y o u ? Yes, I was. H o w did you like that? I loved it....but I couldn't read most of it. S o were they willing to put things on tape for y o u ? No. Nothing on tape. T h e participants g a v e m a n y e x a m p l e s of times w h e n they felt they h a d considerable power: "The association took our request seriously" (Steven). "What you s a y m e a n s something here" (Jason). "We've got something to s a y about the house" (Michael). T h e y argued that their involvement in staff hiring, firing, a n d evaluations gave them power: "We have a lot of power.  Because  w h e n we're a s k e d to give our opinion on how the staff do their job, we have power of s o m e o n e ' s livelihood" (Steven). T h e participants told m e about a n u m b e r of c h a n g e s they h a d m a d e in the h o u s e including changing the n a m e of the h o u s e a n d eliminating the position of a live-in staff member. Their s u c c e s s in implementing these c h a n g e s is o n e indicator that they exercise power.  They  also noted that they had the power to direct staff: "Everything is b a s e d on selfdirected care" (Steven). Steven described the h o m e a s a place where residents h a d a lot of freedom: "You can't treat the other residents like crap. A n d you can't treat the staff like crap... .in any other way, we're free to d o what w e want." T h e residents also had e x a m p l e s of instances w h e n they felt they h a d very little power. "When I first c a m e here, I didn't have nothing to say about the house, c a u s e the association runs the house" (Michael). O n e resident c o m m e n t e d that another resident could, "sleep all day, if he had his will" (Steven), indicating that he did not h a v e his will and thereby providing a reflection  28  that staff did h a v e power over s o m e residents. O n e c o m m o n t h e m e during the interviews w a s the vulnerability of the residents. Michael described his feeling about getting care from a staff person after having a conflict with her: " S h e could have hurt my feelings, s h e did, a n d then the next day s h e c o m e s to work a n d d o e s m y routine. T h a t the worst part. Having to get personal care from s o m e o n e y o u can't stand a n d y o u know can't stand you." Another resident d e s c r i b e d a conflict with a staff person and stated, "I w a s really scared., I thought s h e w a s going to strangle me" (Michael). Conflicts with roommates also left residents feeling frustrated and powerless. "He had ten people in the living room. All his friends. A n d I had to sit in m y b e d r o o m to watch television. I tried to d o something about it but I could not d o anything" (Michael). In talking about a former live-in staff person, J a s o n recounted: "he w a s making it that this is his h o u s e and we were guests, which w a s not the situation at all....he w a s like talking to a stone wall." In talking about the s a m e person, S t e v e n c o m m e n t e d , "There s e e m e d to b e no w a y to get rid of him." T h e s e c o m m e n t s indicate that the participants did not always h a v e control over their living situation. T h e residential staff is the third group in which variations in power are noted. T h e participants gave e x a m p l e s of staff exercising power a s well a s being powerless. T h e y s p o k e about the influence s o m e staff had over the entire home: " M a r y ' s b e e n here the longest period of time. S h e ' s here 5 d a y s a week, s o just 4  by math, s h e ' s got the biggest influence" (Steven). S t e v e n described how a staffing switch, "changed the whole spirit of the house....to go from that main strong influence, that p u s h e d things in a certain direction, to s o m e o n e w h o w a s just doing nothing..." T h e influence of the staff s t e m m e d from their roles a s teachers and advisers. "Workers will m a k e suggestions on how to d r e s s or how to eat or g o to the doctor about certain things" (Steven). J a s o n reflected o n the advice he gets from staff about hygiene and nutrition: "They don't bring it to a point where it's aggravating. They'll mention it o n c e or twice, they won't harp on it, but they'll let y o u know."  4  Not her real name.  29 T h e y also told stories about staff using the h o u s e a s if it were their own. M i c h a e l r e m e m b e r e d a n incident w h e n a staff person m a d e food in the h o u s e to take to a social event that didn't,involve the residents. " S h e took s o m e of my flour, for making c h e e s e c a k e . . . f o r s o m e b o d y else's birthday. W h e n you m a k e something for out of this house, using our flour, y o u should m a k e it for us, not people outside." S t e v e n told a story of a conflict with a staff person in which the staff p e r s o n referred to his physical d e p e n d e n c y to manipulate the discussion: " S h e obviously d e c i d e d that the best d e f e n s e w a s to g o o n offense, s o s h e attacked my character right away and s h e m a d e a lot of personal attacks on m e . . . y o u know.  I clean up your shit, s o what's your problem?" Although the staff a p p e a r e d to h a v e s o m e power a n d influence in the  home, they were, in other respects, somewhat powerless. S t e v e n s u g g e s t e d that a g e n c y ' s mission statement placed staff in a powerless position: T h e association believes passionately in having a h o u s e where the residents are in charge. W h e n you a s k a worker to d o something, that you're physically able to do it yourself, you're just being lazy. A n d the worker thinks they're obliged to do that, they have to do what they're told. T h e y ' v e b e e n told by their b o s s . Steven also noted that, b e c a u s e the staff w a s not unionized, they did not h a v e the s a m e rights a n d protections a s other staff.  In particular, hiring decisions are  b a s e d on residents' preferences rather than seniority. Not too m a n y full-time positions c o m e available, a n d we're a s k e d , w h o d o you want to work here? Well, who are you going to pick? A r e we going to pick the o n e who always d o e s what we s a y ? O r are we going to pick the o n e who p i s s e s us off o n c e in a while by not kissing our a s s ? ...That's the s y s t e m that evolved, so who h a s the power? In summary, these findings s h o w a pattern of power a s dispersed between the a g e n c y board a n d managers, the staff, a n d the residents, with e a c h group experiencing p o w e r l e s s n e s s and exercising power at different times.  30  2. Empowerment  is both an external and an internal  process.  I found that empowerment took many forms within this setting and occurred a s a result of internal a n d external interventions. External interventions c a m e from staff, the a g e n c y m a n a g e m e n t a n d board, and the other residents. T h e residents e x p r e s s e d that staff took practical steps to e m p o w e r residents: "Why can't they teach m e how to use the washing machine and (...) they didn't h a v e time to. Mary did that. Mary taught m e how to use the w a s h i n g machine, the dryer, and the stove" (Michael). S t e v e n explained how residents learned how to advocate for themselves through a staff person's example: "She's a g o o d example, she's [a] very single m i n d e d person a n d takes no crap, s o that's a really g o o d e x a m p l e of: you want to do something? Better do it yourself..." M i c h a e l reported how the m a n a g e r of the h o m e assisted him to write a letter of complaint to the bus c o m p a n y after he fell on the bus. J a s o n c o m m e n t e d that the staff was, "...quite g o o d with the h o u s e k e e p i n g a n d regulating m e on meals. It [a reminder to eat] gets my mind on eating at the time." Steven maintained that staff m e m b e r s e m p o w e r residents by refusing to d o tasks that residents c a n d o for themselves: " S h e won't do everything for you. She'll be a wall a n d only with time y o u realize s h e ' s doing you a favour by doing that." I also found that the a g e n c y m a n a g e m e n t and board e m p o w e r e d the residents in a number of ways. T h e a g e n c y mission statement a n d values a p p e a r e d to form a n overarching framework guiding staff action. "The association believes passionately in having h o u s e s where the residents are in charge" (Steven). T h e residents d e s c r i b e d that they were involved in staff evaluations, in interviewing and selecting new staff, and in promoting staff.  The  residents d e s c r i b e d how the a g e n c y involved them in decisions s u c h a s eliminating the live-in attendant position: "I realized that ...having s o m e o n e live here w a s u n n e c e s s a r y a n d in the way. A n d s o the association c a m e to us a n d offered to get rid of the position if it w a s O K with us" (Steven). T h e a g e n c y also presented the residents with the option of having a fifth resident: "They g a v e us an adult situation...and we had to m a k e a hard choice and then they lived by it" (Steven). T h e r e w a s also a residents' committee for the house, which met  31  regularly to d i s c u s s household operations. T o p i c s included p u r c h a s e s that n e e d e d to be m a d e , maintenance needs, staff performance, and the grocery budget. T h e residents also demonstrated that the a g e n c y had shared information with them s u c h a s the rules of the local housing authority regarding allowable h o m e maintenance costs. S t e v e n s u m m a r i z e d the residents' relationship with the agency: "The s y s t e m is set up and we have a big s a y on how things are arranged. It's up to us to s a y something a n d then d o something about it." A third external source of e m p o w e r m e n t w a s e a c h person's roommates. T h e residents e m p o w e r e d e a c h other by taking collective action.  Steven  recounted how they c a m e to a decision to c h a n g e the n a m e of the h o u s e : " W e just had a resident's committee meeting. Michael brought up the idea, we said it w a s a g o o d idea. I c a m e up with the n a m e , w e all said it w a s a g o o d idea." J a s o n described another time when they worked together to try to resolve a staff performance issue: "We e v e n looked at the records...for how they were s u p p o s e d to behave, the rules that we're s u p p o s e d to follow a n d took note of any infractions and mentioned them to the lady that c a m e in to the meeting." E m p o w e r m e n t also a p p e a r e d to occur a s an internal process.  The  residents d e s c r i b e d their responsibilities in a n u m b e r of a r e a s s u c h a s ensuring there w a s food in the house, interviewing new staff, evaluating staff, reporting maintenance concerns, and treating staff fairly. Michael described how he handled a problem with the b u s c o m p a n y by writing a letter a n d asking his doctor to write a letter also. "I d o it (self-advocacy) for myself now, b e c a u s e I've b e e n trained to d o it" (Michael). A n o t h e r w a y in which residents e m p o w e r e d themselves w a s through resistance. R e s i s t a n c e took the form of speaking up w h e n s o m e o n e s e e m e d to be usurping the power of the residents. "I had to call the office (about her)" (Michael). "They just d o it the way they want a n d we h a v e to tell them to d o what we want..." (Michael). Michael also d e s c r i b e d how he dealt with staff w h o didn't understand that they worked in his home: "...this is a group h o m e a n d I said, no, it isn't. T h i s is m y home. I live here. Y o u don't." R e s i s t a n c e also involved  32  p e r s e v e r a n c e : "I stood m y ground a n d I m a d e m y points and J a s o n stood.his ground a n d m a d e his points a n d they all listened to us" (Steven). T h e residents d e s c r i b e d a n u m b e r of instances in which they strategized over the best w a y to a c h i e v e their e n d s in dealing with the a g e n c y . Well, to get s o m e o n e fired y o u h a v e to have a g o o d r e a s o n a n d I wanted to avoid that hassle. S o I c a m e up with another plan. T h e other plan w a s at the e n d of her six months, to ask the program m a n a g e r to take her off the relief list. Easier to d o than to fire s o m e o n e .  S o that's what w e did  (Steven). T h e residents u s e d their knowledge of a g e n c y policies a n d procedures to steer situations towards the desired outcome. A s described above, they were aware of the benefit of documenting staff performance c o n c e r n s before speaking to the manager. O n e form of resistance u s e d frequently by Michael w a s threats to m o v e out. W h e n a s k e d how the unionization of staff might affect him, h e stated that he would, "pack up m y b a g s a n d leave." H e a l s o stated that h e would h a v e m o v e d out if a fifth resident had m o v e d in a n d reiterated later, "I c a n d o it if I want to." M i c h a e l also resisted the power of others to label him a n d his situation: "I wouldn't call this a group home. Period. T h i s is not a group h o m e . A group h o m e is different than this." "The doctors think I a m mentally h a n d i c a p p e d .  But  I'm not, I don't feel I am." T h e residents' c o m m e n t s s u g g e s t e d that empowerment w a s both an internal a n d external process. T h e staff and a g e n c y e m p o w e r e d the residents by giving them numerous opportunities to exercise power and by teaching them specific skills. T h e residents e m p o w e r e d themselves through self-advocacy, learning n e w skills a n d exercising resistance.  3. Empowerment can be productive. I found that the relationship between the a g e n c y a n d the residents w a s characterized by power sharing a n d collaboration. T h e a g e n c y often presented the residents with choices: "They ultimately solved the problem by presenting u s with a choice" (Steven). "We're presented with this situation where w e h a v e to  33 s a y y e s or no to two different people" (Steven). T h e a g e n c y a n d the residents often collaborated on staffing matters: E a c h year we h a v e a review of the staff, how they've done, at the residents' meeting. A n d they ask all of us residents what they figure, what their performance w a s like, a n d they take that into account on whether they keep the person on and that. (Jason) R e s i d e n t s also meet potential new residents and "have a s a y in who m o v e s in" (Jason). T h e residents described at length the p r o c e s s of negotiation that took  1  place w h e n the a g e n c y suggested a fifth resident move in: M: ...their idea w a s to have another person m o v e in here. S: Having a fifth resident. M: W e didn't want to have it. S. ...and so we debated that with them a n d eventually, they a g r e e d to that. T h e y eventually c o n c e d e d to our wishes. C o n s e n t e d to our wishes. T h e relationship between the residents and the a g e n c y w a s characterized by an a w a r e n e s s of e a c h groups' responsibilities.  In discussing h o m e  maintenance, Steven stated, "...any other maintenance, that's the association's, we feel it's their obligation and they know it's their obligation." Regarding the residents' responsibility to hire staff, he stated, That's a very adult situation, with a lot of power to it, and you don't want s o m e o n e who's got a disability, who's feeling d e p r e s s e d , sorry for themselves, or petty, saying well, I'm going to hire the pretty o n e b e c a u s e s h e m a k e s m e feel g o o d . Instead of the o n e who's busting their a s s . Michael stated that he felt it w a s the agency's responsibility to deal with the issue of government cutbacks: "That's what the association is there for." S t e v e n s u m m a r i z e d the residents' relationship with the agency, "the association tends to b e very responsive to any legitimate requests we have." T h e residents' relationship with staff w a s also characterized by respect a n d collaboration, although conflicts h a v e erupted in the past a s d e s c r i b e d earlier. In talking about the staff role of 'advisor', S t e v e n asserted: "And so, w h e n  34  s o m e o n e offers m e advice that I don't want, I just ignore it. I don't feel put upon a n d I don't feel powerless." N o n e of the residents claimed that the staff h a d too m u c h power in the home. In fact, they g a v e e x a m p l e s of times that they h a d a d v o c a t e d for improvements in the staff's working conditions: "We thought they d e s e r v e d a n office (in the home) for everybody's p e a c e of mind" (Steven). M i c h a e l d e s c r i b e d o n e staff m e m b e r a s being like a sister to him a n d told m e about how s h e assisted him in making a large purchase, " b e c a u s e s h e didn't want a n y b o d y taking advantage of me." Improved quality of life a p p e a r e d to be an additional outcome of the empowering relationship between the residents and the a g e n c y and its staff. Steven commented: ...moving here (was) a very liberating experience for me. It helped m e grow up a little bit...and it's b e e n an overwhelmingly positive e x p e r i e n c e for m e and I think a lot of it has to do with all the work the association did in the last twenty five years, building this place. J a s o n e x p r e s s e d his appreciation for the h o m e also: "Well, I'm happy here, the h o m e atmosphere, rather than just a residence. That m a k e s a world of difference to me. B e c a u s e my family are s p r e a d all over." Michael m a d e positive c o m m e n t s about the h o u s e and the staff: "I'm very thankful for what I h a v e in this h o u s e . I have certain staff that I like and everything's going great now." 4. Relationships  with roommates  are critical.  T h e final major finding of my study w a s regarding relationships with roommates.  Residents saw relationships with e a c h other a s more significant in  their lives than relationships between staff a n d residents or residents a n d the a g e n c y . "I m e a n , the power thing, y o u know, for all the talk about staff a b u s i n g residents, usually residents are abusing other residents..." (Steven). After S t e v e n described s o m e of the problems encountered with other roommates, Michael turned to m e and a s k e d forcefully, "How would you like to be picked o n ? W o u l d y o u like to b e picked on?" M i c h a e l also stated that, in s o m e of the d e c i s i o n s m a d e by the residents, he felt like he had no say, a s it w a s three  35  people against him. W h e n a s k e d what advice he would give to a potential new resident, J a s o n responded, "To share what they're looking for in a lifestyle s o that we do know if that's really what we h a v e here to offer them. That we're going to get along with them. A little late after a month to find out that they're antisocial." T h e main s o u r c e of conflict between residents a p p e a r e d to c o n c e r n lifestyle c h o i c e s s u c h a s personal hygiene, smoking, sleeping habits, drug use, etc. S t e v e n m a d e positive remarks about his roommates during the interviews remarking at o n e point, "And, y o u know, I got a great bunch of roommates, too." T h e residents presented a number of suggestions about how the a g e n c y could improve screening procedures to e n s u r e a better fit between roommates at the outset. T h e s e recommendations are attached a s A p p e n d i x C .  Finding  from  observations  T h e findings a b o v e are supplemented by findings from my observations. A s mentioned earlier, I o b s e r v e d life in the h o m e during a resident committee meeting, a mealtime, and during the four interviews I conducted. During the observations, I found that relationships between the residents were indeed complex a n d of paramount importance in their lives. I o b s e r v e d both tension a n d support in their interactions with e a c h other. T w o of the residents a p p e a r e d to be somewhat frustrated with Steven's dominant role in the interviews. Both of them occasionally exhibited body language indicating b o r e d o m a s S t e v e n w a s talking (i.e. putting h e a d in hands, closing e y e s ) .  There  were also a number of o c c a s i o n s w h e n Michael and Steven would enter into a disagreement; however, t h e s e were usually quickly resolved between the two of them. I noticed that Michael often separated himself physically from his roommates.  During the meal I o b s e r v e d , he ate in the living room while the  others ate at the dining room table. H e a l s o s e e m e d to prefer one-to-one rather than group interactions. Michael elected to d i s c u s s a staff performance review alone with the m a n a g e r rather than the rest of the group and also indicated he wanted to d o the feedback s e s s i o n with m e privately. I think t h e s e actions are indicative of the mixed emotions he h a s about his roommates.  36  I also o b s e r v e d the residents providing support to o n e another. During a card g a m e , Chris w a s very congratulatory of a n y g o o d m o v e s from his opponents. S t e v e n also entered into good-natured teasing with M i c h a e l a n d J a s o n . In this exchange, Steven tried to bolster Michael's self-image: M: Well, actually I have a brain that's 15 years old. S: N o you don't, you have a brain that's 55 years old. M: No, I m e a n . . . S: You're 55 years old! M: I know, but what I'm saying in certain ways, see, you've got a full brain, right? S: Well, let's not jump to any conclusions! I also observed that it w a s in Chris' nature to be quite taciturn in most situations. H e said little during the resident committee meetings, occasionally nodding his head in agreement or saying, "I agree." W h e n I a s k e d him his a g e during the first interview, he h a n d e d m e his birth certificate, rather than stating his a g e . During a g a m e of cribbage, he did not call out the card count a s is customary. I o b s e r v e d Steven providing direction to staff and observed all residents providing direction to the m a n a g e r during the resident committee meeting. R e s i d e n t s also answered the door themselves and offered food a n d drink to guests. A significant finding from my observations is that the ability of the residents impacted on the amount of control they had over the environment.  In  particular, the ability to s p e a k articulately affected e a c h person's degree of control. During the resident committee meeting, Michael's difficulty in communicating clearly resulted in his points being lost in the discussion.  During  the group interview, his difficulty in developing a train of thought often resulted in him saying, "never mind" in the middle of a sentence. At times, he a p p e a r e d frustrated with the effort of trying to c o m m u n i c a t e his thoughts. J a s o n also had problems communicating during the interviews. M y difficulty in speaking loudly e n o u g h for him to hear m e i m p e d e d our discussions.  H e also s e e m e d to have  37  trouble remembering specific details from the past. I found that t h e s e types of problems negatively impacted on individuals' abilities to m a k e claims, negotiate solutions, a n d disagree with others. This, in turn, impacted on their ability to exercise power. A final observation is that the a g e n c y a n d staff reduced opportunities for resident participation a n d decision-making by not making information a c c e s s i b l e to the residents. At the resident committee, no information w a s m a d e available in writing. T h e residents were a s k e d to assist in completing a staff evaluation form yet did not e v e n have the form to refer to. During the meeting, the m a n a g e r referred to a written a g e n d a which none of the residents h a d . Michael reported that he h a d difficulty participating in board meetings b e c a u s e information w a s not provided to him o n tape. T h e residents also reported having very little information about accreditation, unionization or individualized funding; three i s s u e s that currently c o n c e r n most community living a g e n c i e s in C a n a d a . T h e residents s e e m e d unconcerned that they did not have information about t h e s e issues, yet they also a p p e a r e d interested in them during the interview.  Discussion The empowerment model. A s a result of my data analysis, I a m proposing that the e m p o w e r m e n t p r o c e s s e x p e r i e n c e d by these participants is characterized by a three-way interaction between ability to exercise power, willingness to exercise power a n d opportunities to exercise power. T h i s relationship is depicted in Figure 1. T h e p r o c e s s c a n occur during interactions between individuals or between groups. T h e o u t c o m e s described in the model are not static but vary in e a c h interaction in which a p e r s o n is involved. T h e three c o m p o n e n t s of the m o d e l are d e s c r i b e d in more detail below. T h e opportunity circle refers to opportunities to exercise power. A s outlined above, my study found that the a g e n c y a n d the staff g a v e residents opportunities to exercise power. T h e resident committee meetings are o n e e x a m p l e of an a g e n c y structure that provides opportunities for resident empowerment. A g e n c y policies c a n a l s o provide s u c h opportunities. T h e  38  Environmental Barriers Articulation  Learned Helplessness  of Needs and Wants  Access to Resources  Self-Efficacy Access to Information Stigma  Structures  Agency Policies Staff Practices  Figure 1 T h e e m p o w e r m e n t p r o c e s s - contributors and outcomes  39  opportunity itself c a n vary in the d e g r e e to which a n individual is free to produce desired outcomes. T h e d e g r e e of stigma experienced by a resident c a n negatively affect empowerment opportunities.  If an individual is s e e n a s being  very disabled, s h e m a y experience fewer opportunities to s p e a k for herself or to influence others. T h e ability circle c o n c e r n s both the individual's and the group's ability to exercise power. Ability includes skill in articulating n e e d s and desires a n d c a n be e n h a n c e d by increased a c c e s s to resources s u c h a s information, money, and staff support. Staff c a n increase an individual's ability to exercise power by teaching new skills or providing practical support s u c h a s reading a d o c u m e n t to s o m e o n e who can't read. A n e x a m p l e from my study w a s o n e resident's r e s p o n s e to an incident that occurred on a city bus. H e had the opportunity to m a k e a complaint about the bus driver a n d w a s also willing to d o s o .  However,  in order to m a k e the complaint, he required the a s s i s t a n c e of staff to write the letter for him a s he is unable to write. With the support of the staff, the individual w a s able to take control of the situation to the s a m e d e g r e e other citizens c a n . Ability is determined not only by physical or cognitive impairments but also by environmental barriers which m a y inhibit an individual's full participation. T h e third circle, motivation, a d d r e s s e s the subjective c o m p o n e n t of empowerment.  In order to take advantage of empowerment opportunities, an  individual n e e d s to believe that she/he c a n influence a particular outcome.  Some  individuals, however, experience learned h e l p l e s s n e s s - they b e c o m e conditioned to ignore opportunities to exercise power b e c a u s e they were not available in the past (Sturvidant a s cited in Fook, 1993). A n individual m a y also be unwilling to exercise power b e c a u s e the issue or decision is not significant for him/her (Macdonald & M a c d o n a l d , 1999). W h e n these three c o m p o n e n t s overlap e a c h other, four possible r e s p o n s e s result. In an interaction where all three elements are present, the outcome of the interaction will b e a shift in the power relationship between two parties. T h i s h a p p e n e d in the h o m e I studied w h e n the residents d e c i d e d to c h a n g e the n a m e of the home: the residents were collectively motivated to  40  c h a n g e the n a m e , at least o n e resident in the group had the ability to clearly c o m m u n i c a t e their wish to the right person, and the a g e n c y g a v e them a n . opportunity to state their wish. W h e n these three aspects of the interaction c a m e together, the residents were able to m a k e and implement the decision themselves. T h e other three possible r e s p o n s e s are less ideal a n d result in s o m e d e g r e e of p o w e r l e s s n e s s o n the part of o n e party in the interaction. W h e n a n individual is motivated to take control of a situation and is given opportunities to exercise power but is not able to exercise power, the individual responds by withdrawing from the situation. This occurred when Michael b e c a m e a m e m b e r of the a g e n c y ' s board. T h e opportunity to participate w a s present a n d Michael w a s very willing to participate with his commitment to voluntary service. Y e t his inability to read the m a n y d o c u m e n t s available meant he had minimal power in the situation and he eventually resigned from this position. T h e a g e n c y could have e n h a n c e d Michael's ability to participate by providing materials to him on tape. Withdrawal is often a c c o m p a n i e d by frustration a s in Michael's c a s e . T h e third r e s p o n s e occurs w h e n ability and opportunity overlap.  In this  situation, an individual h a s both the opportunity a n d ability to exercise power but is not motivated to d o so. T h e result is that the individual a c q u i e s c e s to d e c i s i o n s m a d e by others. T h i s occurred during the resident committee meeting I o b s e r v e d where o n e resident a g r e e d with all the decisions m a d e by the others. While the result in these interactions w a s that the resident w a s powerless, I s a w no e v i d e n c e that this w a s frustrating to him. In fact, the individual's unwillingness to take control in a situation may b e more frustrating to those around him than to him. T h e final possible outcome o c c u r s w h e n an individual or group is willing a n d able to exercise power but finds minimal opportunities to do so. T h i s occurs w h e n the other party in the interaction is reluctant to share power. T h e outcome in this situation is resistance. T h e residents experienced this w h e n they tried to confront a staff m e m b e r w h o s e performance w a s unsatisfactory. W h e n attempts to d i s c u s s this issue with her directly failed, they resorted to resistance a n d  41  strategized about other w a y s to r e m o v e her from her position. R e s i s t a n c e is not always s u c c e s s f u l a s illustrated by Michael's attempts to deal with his roommate who continued to s m o k e in the living room. W h e n the three elements of ability, motivation and opportunity to exercise power are present in a n interaction, a power shift is likely to o c c u r in a relationship. P o w e r shifts c a n also o c c u r a s a result of s u c c e s s f u l resistance. T h i s model d o e s not reflect a static pattern of relations between two parties. Rather it p r o p o s e s a set of relations in e a c h interaction between two parties. P o w e r m a y shift in o n e direction during o n e interaction a n d shift back the other way in the next one. However, e m p o w e r m e n t c a n b e reinforcing in that a positive outcome in o n e interaction may increase an individual's self-efficacy a n d motivation to take control in another interaction. Steven demonstrated this w h e n he stated that he learned over time that he had a lot of influence in how the h o m e w a s run. S u c c e s s f u l resistance c a n also e n h a n c e a n individual's belief in his/her own ability to produce desired outcomes.  Negative o u t c o m e s c a n also b e  reinforcing. A c q u i e s c e n c e c a n contribute to learned helplessness, further reducing willingness to exercise power. Withdrawal c a n lead to reduced selfefficacy a s w a s the c a s e with M i c h a e l w h o declared at o n e point, "What c a n I d o ? It's three people against me."  Relationship to the literature. M y model supports propositions m a d e in the empowerment literature.  For  e x a m p l e , I found that empowerment is not solely a n internal p r o c e s s but c a n result from external p r o c e s s e s also. E m p o w e r m e n t c a n be supported externally by staff presenting opportunities for others to exercise power a n d by e n h a n c i n g the ability of others to exercise power.  I found that human services staff c a n  organize institutional r e s p o n s e s which m a k e e m p o w e r m e n t possible (Payne, 1997). M y findings a d d r e s s the question p o s e d by D e m p s e y a n d F o r e m a n (1997) a s to whether empowerment c a n be influenced by staff practices a n d support. T h e residents gave e x a m p l e s of staff practices that increased resident power. M y findings lead m e to a g r e e with the contention that e m p o w e r m e n t is more likely to o c c u r in settings where there are a m p l e opportunities for  42 participation ( D e m p s e y & F o r e m e n , 1997). I also found that the residents s a w e m p o w e r m e n t a s a useful tool for enabling them to take greater control over their lives. M y findings validate a post-modern perspective on disability issues.  The  participants in my study disputed the idea that h u m a n services staff h a v e considerable power over their clients. T h e y argued that, in fact, residents h a v e considerable power over staff.  Furthermore, the participants did not s e e the non-  profit a g e n c y a s a monolithic, omnipotent body. T h e y s a w their relationship with the a g e n c y a s egalitarian and supportive. T h e power dynamics in their various relationships were not static nor were they predictable. Although o n e might expect that having a disability would impact negatively on their s e n s e of power, two of the residents appeared to reject the notion of universal oppression a m o n g p e o p l e with disabilities. W h e n they did s p e a k of p o w e r l e s s n e s s related to disability, it a p p e a r e d to center on incidents outside of the h o m e (ex. Strangers c o m m e n t i n g o n their disability, inaccessible environments). T h e s e findings support post-modernist contentions that w e n e e d to reject meta-narratives, s u c h a s the c o n c e p t that disability is s y n o n y m o u s with oppression, in favour of ' knowledge that is localized a n d contextualized.  The setting. T o s o m e extent, it may be argued that this setting w a s exemplary in terms of community living h o m e s .  Indeed, o n e resident stated, "I think (this house) is  an anomaly and really is the best place to live" (Steven). Certainly, the u n i q u e n e s s of e a c h person m a k e s no community living h o m e the s a m e . However, m a n y of the empowering practices a n d systems described in my study are also in place in other h o m e s in the community. Their effectiveness d e p e n d s on the characteristics of the staff a n d residents in the home. This h o m e c a n s e r v e a s a n e x a m p l e of the potential positive impact of empowering practices and systems. It is likely that the g e n d e r of t h e s e participants impacted o n m y findings. A s white m a l e s receiving a s s i s t a n c e from staff that were primarily female a n d isolated in the work setting, their s e n s e of power over staff m a y h a v e b e e n  43  e n h a n c e d by their identity a s males. It w a s clear from c o m m e n t s m a d e by the participants a n d from m y observations that the residents expected the staff to fulfill traditional female roles of cooking, cleaning, a n d h o u s e k e e p i n g . Yet, t h e s e are a l s o tasks that s o m e of the residents were physically unable to do. Furthermore, the profession of residential care worker d o e s not h a v e the s a m e status a s professions s u c h a s nursing or social work. T h e low professional status of these w o m e n m a y have m a d e it more likely that the residents would s e e them a s equals.  Further research is n e e d e d into the impact of gender on the  power d y n a m i c s between residents and care workers.  Workshop  results.  A s mentioned earlier, I agreed to present my study findings to the staff of the a g e n c y in which I conducted my study. Approximately 18 staff from a number of different worksites participated in this 3 hour workshop. T h e workshop w a s intended to provide a forum to talk about power in community living h o m e s a n d also to obtain feedback from the staff on the empowerment model I had d e v e l o p e d . W o r k s h o p evaluations indicated that the staff found the e m p o w e r m e n t model to be a useful tool for examining their work practices. I noted during the workshop that s o m e staff a p p e a r e d to s e e e m p o w e r m e n t a s a way to get residents to b e h a v e in certain ways. S o m e of them were quite f o c u s e d on the things they wanted to e m p o w e r the residents to d o a n d were e a g e r to prescribe these outcomes. T h e y then went on to describe s o m e of the w a y s the residents responded to this (termed 'manipulation' by o n e staff person). Significantly, s o m e staff did not feel that there w a s a role for the residents in providing one-on-one performance f e e d b a c k to staff. This w a s a clear contradiction to a g e n c y policy on this issue. Finally, staff did a g r e e with m y study participants that staff were sometimes in a powerless position vis a vis the residents. Although this workshop did not represent a systematic attempt to gather workers' views o n the issue of power in the homes, it did solicit s o m e staff views that concurred with the findings of m y study.  44  Conclusion  Implications T h i s section reviews the implications of my findings for social work policy, practice, theory a n d research.  Policy. With the advent of accreditation in the community living movement, policy plays a n increasingly important role in community living a g e n c i e s .  M y study  demonstrates that policies regarding client involvement and participation c a n be effective in empowering clients to take greater control over their lives.  Agencies  providing residential services should consider adopting policies that require resident committees or councils in e a c h residence. A clear mandate for t h e s e committees c a n assist in clarifying roles. Although the home I studied did not have a residents' bill of rights, it w a s apparent that the residents found it empowering to h a v e a clear understanding of their rights a n d responsibilities. K n o w l e d g e about a g e n c y hiring a n d disciplinary policies also g a v e the residents m o r e control over their support services. H u m a n service a g e n c i e s should also consider developing a policy requiring that a broad range of information about the a g e n c y be available to clients in alternate formats s u c h a s plain language documents, audiotapes, a n d large font documents. T h e importance of a c c e s s to information in enabling clients to exercise power effectively cannot be overstated. Residential a g e n c i e s n e e d to have in place a dispute resolution policy that would apply to people living together. T h e policy should outline p r o c e d u r e s that the a g e n c y would take to resolve disputes that h a v e escalated to the point that residents ask for a s s i s t a n c e from a g e n c y staff. Information provided to residents in a d v a n c e gives them a broader range of solutions to c h o o s e from should problems arise. Finally, h u m a n service a g e n c i e s should develop policies that a d d r e s s the goals of staff intervention and support. If empowerment is a goal, then this should be clearly stated and defined in policy. Lack of clarity about the role of staff c a n lead to power struggles between clients and staff, creating stress for all  45  involved. A g e n c y goals should be linked to clients' personal goals a n d a r e a s of incompatibility should be a d d r e s s e d with the client.  Practice. T h e results of my study suggest that h u m a n services staff c a n be trained in methods of empowerment that can b e implemented in their work with clients. T h e s e m e t h o d s include teaching skills s u c h a s a d v o c a c y , sharing information about the a g e n c y a n d its procedures, a n d supporting residents with tasks they have difficulty with, s u c h a s writing. In particular, staff should be trained to look for a n d present opportunities to clients to exercise power. T h e participants in my study were clear that staff practices m a d e a significant difference in their feelings of self-efficacy and power. Training regarding the methods of e m p o w e r m e n t should b e linked to discussions about power a n d self-determination for clients. P o w e r should b e d i s c u s s e d m o r e openly between staff a n d clients.  The  word 'power' has s o m e negative connotations in our society and, consequently, issues of power are often left unspoken. A more o p e n dialogue about power m a y assist clients a n d staff to understand the root of s o m e conflicts and to a d d r e s s these more effectively.  In particular, a n understanding of the productive a s p e c t s  of power may help to take the focus of conflicts away from the client labeled 'difficult'. F o r example, at the workshop I conducted, s o m e staff labeled a client manipulative for trying to influence a situation to c o m e out in his favour.  This  type of labeling should be d i s c u s s e d at staff meetings where alternative explanations for a client's behaviour are explored. Staff should also look for w a y s to assist clients to e n h a n c e their ability to exercise power. M y study found that ability in the a r e a s of communication a n d reasoning c a n significantly impact on the exercise of personal power.  These  findings e c h o those of Felce, Lowe, a n d J o n e s (2002) who found that the quality of life e x p e r i e n c e d by group h o m e residents w a s strongly associated with their own abilities. Staff can assist in the development of communication a n d reasoning abilities using a variety of tools a n d teaching methods, s u c h a s augmentative communication aids a n d skill-building g a m e s . Staff may require a s s i s t a n c e and training to seek out a n d implement these types of resources.  46  Additionally, staff may n e e d to develop a w a r e n e s s around their own r e s p o n s e s to residents. It is generally true that it is easier to listen to s o m e o n e who is articulate a n d presents a clear argument.  It requires increased time and  effort on the part of the listener to try to understand the communicative intent of a m e s s a g e that is perhaps garbled and meandering. Through increased effort to understand and act on the wishes of a resident w h o s e communication abilities are impaired, staff m a y b e able to d e c r e a s e the impact of disability on the e m p o w e r m e n t process.  Theory. M y study builds on existing e m p o w e r m e n t theory by proposing a conceptual model for the p r o c e s s of individual a n d group empowerment.  The  m o d e l m a y b e of value to social workers w h o work with people labeled a s having disabilities b e c a u s e it specifically a d d r e s s e s the impact of disability on the e m p o w e r m e n t process. T h e model is compatible with the social model of disability b e c a u s e it recognizes the impact of environmental and attitudinal barriers which are intrinsically disabling. M y analysis demonstrates that empowerment theory c a n b e a p p r o a c h e d from a post-modern perspective.  Post-modernism highlights s o m e of the  potentially regulatory a s p e c t s of empowerment. This insight cautions social workers to a p p r o a c h empowerment critically to ensure it is not u s e d a s a tool to constrain or manipulate clients. T h e post-modernist view also puts the focus on s o m e of the essentialist assumptions of empowerment. W e are reminded that we cannot a s s u m e that all our clients are powerless.  Rather, we n e e d to  contextualize e a c h client's situation a n d understand it from a local perspective.  Research. This study builds on our understanding of methodological i s s u e s that arise in research with people with disabilities.  It reveals s o m e of the complexities in  ensuring that an individual is providing informed consent throughout the c o u r s e of a study. It also demonstrates s o m e of the pitfalls of the group interview methodology.  47 T h i s study contributes to a body of literature regarding service users' views of power a n d empowerment. T h e study is limited in many respects but particularly in terms of the group studied. Additional research is required into whether a n y of these findings are applicable to w o m e n with disabilities in community living h o m e s . Further r e s e a r c h is also n e e d e d to determine how the e x p e r i e n c e s of disabled people of color differ from the group that I studied. G i v e n the considerable body of work regarding power differentials between m e n a n d w o m e n a n d between white people a n d people of colour, it is r e a s o n a b l e to expect that the findings would b e very different with these groups. More research is required into how ability affects empowerment. In particular, clarification is n e e d e d around the extent to which communication barriers affect empowerment.  My study involved two individuals who h a d mild  communication barriers. T h e applicability of my findings to individuals with s e v e r e communications barriers requires investigation. Additionally, research n e e d s to continue into the effectiveness of staff interventions to facilitate improved communications. T h e concept of resistance requires further elaboration through research. M y study did not investigate staff r e s p o n s e s to resistance. Of particular interest is the question of whether staff c a n recognize resistance and respond to it in a w a y that e m p o w e r s the client. T h i s would require a commitment to the concept of e m p o w e r m e n t that may not be present in m a n y human service a g e n c i e s .  Summary In this qualitative study, I explored male residents' views of the power d y n a m i c s in a community living h o m e for people with disabilities. T h e p u r p o s e of the study w a s to d e v e l o p a n understanding of how the m e n e x p e r i e n c e d power in the setting of their home. In particular, I explored whether they e x p e r i e n c e d power a s o p p r e s s i o n or a variable, productive force. I also e n d e a v o u r e d to understand how the participants r e s p o n d e d to the power of others s u c h a s the staff in the h o m e or the a g e n c y m a n a g e m e n t .  Finally, I w a s interested in what  role the staff and a g e n c y played in empowering the residents. I f o c u s e d on  48  understanding their views a s there is very little research about service users' views of empowerment. Four m e n participated in the study which took place over a 6 week period. T h e y lived in a h o m e m a n a g e d by a non-profit agency.  I used a methodology  which c o m b i n e d group interviews with observations. T h e four group interviews took the form of an informal dialogue. T h e data from the interviews a n d observations were analyzed using the techniques of grounded theory.  The  preliminary analysis w a s presented to the participants for their f e e d b a c k M y analysis produced four main findings. T h e first w a s that power w a s d i s p e r s e d a m o n g the residents, the residential staff and the a g e n c y board a n d m a n a g e m e n t . T h e s e c o n d finding w a s that empowerment occurred a s both an internal a n d external process: sometimes initiated from within a n d s o m e t i m e s from others. T h e third finding w a s that the o u t c o m e s of a n empowering interaction included power sharing, collaboration, negotiation, a n d improved quality of life for the residents. T h e final finding w a s that relationships with r o o m m a t e s were of greater significance to the participants than relationships with staff or with the agency. I propose a n empowerment model which describes the p r o c e s s of e m p o w e r m e n t a s requiring three elements: the opportunity to exercise power, motivation to exercise power, a n d ability. T h e model depicts potential o u t c o m e s of an interaction when only two of these three elements are present. I also d i s c u s s environmental and psycho-social factors which impact on e a c h of the elements. T h i s study h a s implications for social work policy a n d practice in terms of steps that organizations and individuals c a n take to empower clients. It also has implications for social work theory in that it demonstrates that a synthesis of e m p o w e r m e n t theory and post-structuralism is possible and instructive.  Further  research is indicated into the applicability of these findings to other community living h o m e residents.  49  References  Abberley, P. (1987). T h e concept of oppression and the development of a social theory of disability. Disability, Handicap & Society, 2, 5-19. Adler, P. & Adler, P. (1994). Observational techniques. In N, Denzin & Y . Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 377-391). T h o u s a n d O a k s , C A : S a g e Publications. Atkinson, D. (1998). Living in residential care. In A . Brechin, J . Walmsley, J . Katz & S . 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Self-Determination a n d individuals with significant disabilities: Examining m e a n i n g s and misinterpretations. Journal  Association  for Persons  with Severe  Handicaps,  23(1), 5-16.  of the  59 I a g r e e / d o not agree to be audio taped during the group meetings a n d the private meeting, if I request one.  Subject Signature  Date  W i t n e s s Signature  Date  C F version: J a n 1, 2000  60 Appendix B  Interview Question Guide (semi-structured interviews)  Introduction: Review consent, right to withdraw, right to refuse to answer, a s s u r a n c e of no right or wrong answer. 1. H o w old are y o u ? 2.  How long have you been living h e r e ?  3.  W h e r e did you live before you m o v e d here?  4. W h a t sort of things do you do during the d a y ? 5. C a n you tell m e about the staffing arrangement here? 6.  W h a t sort of tasks do you expect the staff to do for y o u ?  7.  W h a t is your involvement in hiring staff?  8.  How do you handle it if you have a problem with a staff p e r s o n ?  9. H a v e you ever g o n e to the office for help? 10. How are decisions m a d e h e r e ? (Examples: meal choices, staff s c h e d u l e , p u r c h a s e s for home, u s e of s p a c e ) 11. W h a t d o you d o if a decision is m a d e without your input? 12. Is it difficult to disagree with a staff decision? 13. C a n you tell m e about how the decision w a s m a d e to c h a n g e the n a m e of the h o u s e ? 14. A r e there other things you are planning to c h a n g e now? 15. H o w is this h o m e different from p l a c e s you lived before? 16. W h a t advice would you give to s o m e o n e who w a s moving in h e r e ?  61  Appendix C Residents' Recommendations  1.  S p e a k explicitly to residents a n d staff about power. Q u e s t i o n w h o h a s it a n d how it is being used.  2.  Provide m o r e information to potential residents before they m o v e in focus on resident rights a n d responsibilities.  3.  H a v e a trial period for new residents before accepting them permanently.  4.  G e t references from potential residents  5.  D o criminal record c h e c k s o n potential residents.  6. Verify how m u c h assistance a potential resident will require - talk to doctor or staff in previous living situation. 7.  Establish h o u s e rules for e a c h h o m e a n d describe a problem resolution p r o c e s s that ultimately leads to eviction.  8. A d v i s e residents on how they c a n b e c o m e more involved in the a g e n c y including the procedure for becoming members. 9.  Find w a y s to ensure that the staff support model d o e s not prevent residents from doing things for themselves.  

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