TENANTS: A training model for staff working with AMRDD

Patrick M. Preston (2007)

This dissertation project is a program that has been developed to enhance the training of direct care staff (DCS) who work with adults with mental retardation and developmental disorders (AMRDD). It is named Training Experiences Necessary in Achieving Normalized Treatment Services (TENANTS) . To date, the state of training for DCS who work with AMRDD has not made use of conceptual models of learning to inform staff training. Although research has focused on new ways of intervening with AMRDD, DCS tend not to be familiar with these approaches. Lack of staff training has been more commonplace in rural areas and in communities with limited resources. Public policy has directed moneys toward research and programming that has focused on transitioning AMRDD from state run institutions into the community, keeping high risk AMRDD out of expensive hospitals, and assuring that prior sexual offenders do not reoffend. Consequently, limited resources have been available to service AMRDD living in their local communities. There are also limited resources available for training of DCS. Although they are often the primary professional care providers for AMRDD. DCS often have limited education, inadequate supervision, low pay, high stress, and burn out. This project has assumed that staff training which is informed by conceptual models of training will reduce staff burnout, expose DCS to new ways of intervening, and increase job satisfaction. Specifically for this project, Honey and Mumford's (1992) theory of learning styles and Kolb's (1984) theory of learning processes were used to inform the program structure and process. Further, this project has assumed that normalizing training experiences for DCS has a positive impact on both the DCS and the AMRDD they serve. As the acronym TENANTS illuminates, it is assumed that normalizing training experiences for DCS will in effect promote the overall quality of life for AMRDD and thus assure their status as tenants in their local communities. The philosophical assumption that has guided the development of this program is that individuals will maximize their potential when they are respected and granted opportunity. Wolfensberger (1972) named this theory the principle of normalization . His vision was to apply the normalization principle in work with adults with mental retardation and developmental disabilities (AMRDD) and that by applying this principle there would be positive effects on their overall quality of life. Social and systematic pressures have impinged on the complete fulfillment of this vision. The TENANTS program has implications for the gaps that exist in research, practice, and public policy.