Staff stress and morale in community-based settings for people with intellectual disabilities and challenging behaviour: A brief report

Janet Robertson, Chris Hatton, David Felce, Andrea Meek, Deborah Carr, Martin Knapp, Angela Hallam, Eric Emerson, Lisa Pinkney, Emma Caesar, Kathy Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Background There are no studies that have compared outcomes for staff in different types of supported accommodation for people with intellectual disabilities and challenging behaviour. This study looked at stress, morale and intended job turnover in staff in two types of community-based residential supports: non-congregate settings where the minority of residents have challenging behaviour; and congregate settings where the majority of residents have challenging behaviour. Materials and methods A self-completion survey questionnaire was used to collect information on the basic characteristics of staff, levels of staff stress, job satisfaction and propensity to leave their employment. Results One hundred and fifty-seven questionnaires were returned from staff, the majority of whom were on fixed-term contracts. Congregate settings were not associated with higher levels of stress as might be assumed. Overall, over a quarter of staff reached criterion on the General Health Questionnaire-12 for experiencing emotional distress, and over a third were likely to actively seek new employment in the next year. The greatest perceived sources of stress were lack of resources and lack of staff support. The lowest level of satisfaction was with the rate of pay. Those in non-congregate settings reported greater perceived stress because of lack of procedures to deal with challenging behaviour. Conclusions High levels of intended staff turnover may be more due to job insecurity and lack of support than service user challenging behaviour. Employers seeking to reduce turnover should pay attention to basic pay and conditions, as well as staff training in appropriate methods for dealing with challenging behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-277
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Behaviour
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Staff


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