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A Review of Methods of Accessing the Experiences of Children with Disabilities Living in Residential Care Settings

Research Staff

Dr. Jean Whyte, Prof. Sheila Greene

About the Project


The Social Services Inspectorate pays particular attention to how children in residential centres experience their care. This is done through direct observation, review of policies and records, interviews with parents and professionals and in particular, interviews and less formal meetings (sharing mealtimes and activities) with the children and young people. The Inspectorate anticipates that it will extend its work to the area of residential services for children with disabilities in the near future. They have commissioned this review in order to assist inspectors to develop methods of accessing children's experiences and an awareness of the limitations which there may be in working with children with different types of disabilities.

What did the research focus on?

The research focused on published research which has accessed the voices of children with disabilities and in particular those with intellectual disabilities. It looked, in particular, at the methodologies developed for different groups of children (by age and type of disability), any difficulties encountered in implementing the methodologies and the outcomes associated with the methodologies. It will focused on reports of inspections or monitoring visits, investigations of complaints and police inquiries where the views of children with disabilities are elicited to inform the findings. It provided an account of materials developed with a proven record in the area.

What did the research involve?

The study was largely based on existing research literature, published and unpublished (accessed via the internet) and also involved consultation with service providers, teachers and other professionals who routinely consult with children with disabilities. Where necessary experts in the area were interviewed and the current practice of the Social Services Inspectorate in relation to the inspection of residential care settings and in relation to eliciting the experiences and views of children was reviewed

Final products of the research

An executive summmary of this report was published by the Social Services Inspectorate.

Last updated 15 March 2010 by The Children′s Research Centre (Email).