Patterns of staff culture in Australian group homes

Prof. Christine Bigby1, Dr Lincoln Humphreys1

1La Trobe University, Living With Disability Research Centre, , Australia

Culture has been consistently identified as an important influence on the quality of staff support in group homes for people with intellectual disabilities. Drawing on ethnographic studies of the culture in underperforming and better group homes in Australia, Humphreys et al. developed the Group Home Culture Scale (GHCS) to measure staff culture. Using the GHCS, this study aimed to identify patterns of culture in group homes in Australia and develop a preliminary typology of group home culture.

As part of a larger study into the quality of staff support, an online version of the GHCS was distributed to support workers and their frontline managers from 191 group homes across 11 organisations. A profile of scores on each of the seven subscales was compiled for each group home, and compared with other homes using Ragin’s comparative methods.

Distinct patterns of culture were found which differentiated houses from each other, including within the same organisation. The findings provide the basis for a preliminary typology of group home culture.

This typology will assist organisations to better understand the results from the GHCS, to compare scores across group homes, and can be used to identify services where aspects of culture may be hindering the quality of staff support and inform decisions about prioritising resources.


Professor Christine Bigby is Director of the Living with Disability Research Centre at La Trobe University. She has won the ASID Research prize three times since 1993. She has published 6 books, 35 book chapters, over 135 journal articles and numerous research reports.  She is editor of the Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

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