R-4, Enhancing Community Participation for People with Disabilities through Consumer Training

The Bottom Line

We expect that people with disabilities who use a personal assistant (PA) can enhance their participation in the community by learning managerial and communication skills. This research project measures the effectiveness of a new Consumer Training Program designed to fill this need.

How It Works

The Consumer Training Program gives consumers with disabilities strategies for hiring/firing and managing/training personal attendants (PAs) along with other important information. (See topics in right column.)

The four-hour training is being conducted at Paraquad, a center for independent living in St. Louis. Participants complete a survey about their relationship and satisfaction with their PA, then they are evaluated on their skills and knowledge before and after the training.

Consumer Training Topics for Personal Assistants

  • Personal assistant (PA) recruitment
  • Topics to cover when interviewing
  • Tips for training a new PA
  • Managing a PA
  • Effective communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Feedback techniques (avoiding the blame game)
  • Back-up and emergency planning
  • Secondary conditions (respiratory problems, urinary tract infections, pressure sores)
  • Assistive technology (wheelchairs, walkers, shower bench, bedside commode)

What We've Learned So Far

Fourteen participants have attended one of seven pilot training sessions and completed initial and follow-up surveys about their community participation four to six weeks after the training. The results have been positive.

Consumer satisfaction with their attendants has improved along with their management skills.

In terms of knowledge, all of the PAs improved their familiarity with the early indicators of health conditions. This was true for urinary tract infection, bowel impaction and pneumonia.

The project was conducted at Paraquad in St. Louis where equipment and technology are designed for and by people with disabilities.

R4: Enhancing Community Participation through Consumer Training Fact Sheet

For more information, contact Jessica Dashner, OTD, OTR/L, research associate. Or contact the Research and Training Center on Measurement and Interdependence in Community Living at the RTC/IL, 4089 Dole, 1000 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045, Phone: 785-864-4095 (voice), 785-864-0706 (TTY)RTCIL@ku.edu 

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research grant H133B060018