Family engagement with adults with developmental disabilities in supported accommodation

Dr Carmit Noa Shpigelman2, Dr Tal Araten-Bergman1

1La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia, 2Haifa University

Enduring family engagement and informal support is crucial to the health and wellbeing of adults with developmental disabilities (DD) residing in supported accommodation. The COVID-19 pandemic and restrictive measures enforced in residential settings have resulted in changes in daily routine and modified the ways families can interact with and provide support to residents. Yet, the impact of these changes has not been empirically explored.

Explore how family caregivers have interacted with and supported their relatives with developmental disabilities residing in supported accommodation during the pandemic.

Changes in frequencies of communication modes and types of informal support were measured through a cross-sectional and anonymous online survey completed by 108 family caregivers of adults with developmental disabilities.

Most family caregivers adopted remote communication technologies; however, these were not perceived to be effective in filling the gap created by reduced face-to-face contact. While families were able to provide emotional support and advocacy using digital technologies, they were limited in their ability to provide significant social support.

Findings may help key stakeholders develop and implement novel strategies and policies to accommodate the changing circumstances and to ensure continuity of family engagement and informal support in the context of COVID-19.


Carmit Noa Shpigelman PhD. Senior Lecturer, Department of Community Mental Health, University of Haifa Israel