The Social Enterprise as an Alternative Work Option for Persons with Developmental Disabilities: A Case Study of Staff Perspectives at Common Ground Co-operative
MetadataShow full item record
Traditional employment options for persons with developmental disabilities are lacking. Employment options available for persons with developmental disabilities are reflective of the medical and social model perspectives of disability; with segregated and supported employment reinforcing the idea that persons with developmental disabilities are incapable and competitive employment missing the necessary accommodations for persons to be successful. This study examined social enterprises as an alternative employment option that can balance both medical and social model perspectives by accommodating for weaknesses or limitations and recognizing the strengths and capabilities of persons with developmental disabilities in the workplace. Moreover, this study is part of a broader case study which is examining the nature and impacts of a social enterprise, known as Common Ground Co-operative (CGC), which supports five social purpose businesses that are owned and operated by persons with developmental disabilities. This study is part of the Social Business and Marginalized Social Groups Community-University Research Alliance. To date, a case study has been written describing the nature and impacts of CGC and its related businesses from the perspectives of the Partners, board members, funders and staff (Owen, Readhead, Bishop, Hope & Campbell, in press & Readhead, 2012). The current study used a descriptive case study approach to provide a detailed account of the perceptions and opinions of CGC staff members who support each of the Partners in the five related businesses. Staff members were chosen for the focus of this study because of the integral role that they play in the successful outcomes of the persons they support. This study was conducted in two phases. In the first phase five staff members were interviewed. During this stage of interviews, several themes were presented which needed to be examined in further detail, specifically staff stress and burnout and duty of care for business Partners versus the promotion of their autonomy. A second phase of interviews was then conducted with one individual participant and a focus group of seven. During both interview phases, Staff participants described an employment model that creates a non-judgemental environment for the business Partners that promotes their strengths, accommodates for their limitations, provides educational opportunities and places the responsibility for the businesses on the persons with developmental disabilities cultivating equality and promoting independence. Staff described the nature of their role including risk factors for stress, the protective factors that buffer stress, and the challenges associated with balancing many role demands. Issues related to the replication of this social enterprise model are described.