"We do as well as we can". The experiences of staff assisting disabled people in community residential homes


  • Guðný Jónsdóttir
  • Snæfríður Þ. Egilson




Disability, high support needs, well-being, staff.


Staff supporting young people and adults with complex and severe neurological impairments are the key to their communication, quality of life and participation. This study reports the knowledge and experiences of staff members supporting disabled people living in community residential homes, as well as their perceived needs for information and support. Furthermore, the study aimed to reveal staff´s views on their possibilities to support service users´ wellbeing, participation and quality of life. Participants were twelve experienced staff members. Qualitative methods were used and data were collected through semi-structured interviews. The results of the study reveal that services provided in community residential homes for people with complex and severe impairments are not in line with human rights treaties, including the right to health. Further, it does not mirror the social approach to disability which today is the focus of policy frameworks. The staff were positive toward service users, tried to do their best but lacked resources. Their knowledge of service user´s health-related needs was scarce and little was done to prevent further impairments or increasing health problems. Staff reported lack of human resources, high staff turnover and lack of information, training and support. Recent governmental changes, provide possibilities for revised emphasis in the service provided, on cooperation between different sectors as well as for the development of transdisciplinary services.

Author Biographies

Guðný Jónsdóttir

Head of physiotherapy, Endurhæfing Ltd., Rehabilitation -Centre of Excellence.

Snæfríður Þ. Egilson

Ph.D, Professor at School of Health Sciences, University of Akureyri.



How to Cite

Jónsdóttir, G., & Egilson, S. Þ. (2013). "We do as well as we can". The experiences of staff assisting disabled people in community residential homes. Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 9(1), 171–190. https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2013.9.1.9



Peer Reviewed Articles