Purpose: Limited research has examined the communicative interaction patterns within group home settings between adults with developmental disabilities and their non-disabled direct care staff. There is evidence from studies that improving the communication pattern of caregivers will eventually lead to better interaction with residents. An approach that might clarify this issue is to have direct care staff who currently work in group homes describe their interaction with their residents. This study evaluated the communication pattern of direct care staff and their residents in group home settings by looking at the types of instructions that direct care staff use on a daily basis to get their residents to accomplish tasks and comply.

Design and Methods: An online survey with open-ended questions was provided online to direct care staff (N = 14) who were working in group homes regarding to their daily tasks oriented interaction with residents, the type of command they used and the response they get from residents. Data was coded and analyzed in MAXQDA 2020 and compared to features of command and compliance.

Results: Data indicated that direct care staff used more vague and ambiguous instructions (i.e., beta instructions), than clear and specific instructions (i.e., alpha instructions). Direct care staff reported that residents either refused or responded passively to instructions. In addition, instructions given during intimate or personal care activities were the mostly refused. Assistance with intimate care was also the most occurring tasks daily.

Implications: Training direct care staff in effective instruction method when seeking compliance from resident such as the usage of more alpha command type as well as appropriate attitude will improve interactions between direct care staff and residents in group homes. The implication of study outcomes is reviewed.

Key Words: communication, group home, direct care staff, command, compliance


Daniel Houlihan

Committee Member

Jeffrey Buchanan

Committee Member

Kristen Abbott-Anderson

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)




Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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