Engagement and regulation: perspectives and experiences from employee stakeholders in the residential intellectual disability sector.
Most Intellectual Disability (ID) organisations work to strategic and operational plans which set out the organisation’s raison d’etre, its broad direction and what it aspires to achieve and become over a period of time. The importance of involving all key stakeholders in envisioning and delivering on a shared future is well established as best practice e.g. Excellence through People (2012), Investors in People (2013), the European Foundation for Quality Management Framework (2013) model and the Health Information and QualityAuthority (HIQA, 2013). To ensure an organisation’s vision is shared in the sense that it is the product of collective input and output from all key stakeholders requires managers and employees to work collaboratively with all interested and relevant parties to ensure they have a voice in setting out what MacLeod and Clarke (2009) referred to as the ‘strategic narrative’. The ability to influence others is central to the development of strategic and operational plans which in turn define and provide the road map for and organisation’s strategic and operational success.However, from the 1st November 2013, all ID services strategic and operational plans mustnow consider regulatory requirements under the Health Act of 2007; as HIQA obtained its mandate from the 2007 Health Act and, among other duties, has a responsibility to regulate the standard and quality of services delivered in designated centres for people with disabilities. The purpose of this regulatory body is to provide safeguards for vulnerable people who reside in residential care, thus assuring their health, welfare and the highest quality of life possible. There are two main aspects to regulation, registration and the monitoring of compliance: however, upon reviewing HIQA reports, it is evident that some services and key stakeholders in the ID sector appear to be struggling with the engagement and regulation process, resulting in a variance in the level of compliance and non-compliance they are achieving. As regulations were only recently introduced for ID services, there is a dearth of understanding in terms of how employee engagement may or may not impact on the change process in terms of regulation. Therefore the aim of this research is to “examine the perspectives and experiences of employee stakeholders regarding workplace engagement within the context of the regulatory framework in the residential intellectual disability sector”. Stemming from this, three objectives were identified during the process1. Examine the relevance of employee engagement, from an employee stakeholder’s perspective, in shaping compliance to regulatory requirements.2. Explore the benefits and challenges identified by employees in terms of their experiences of engagement in a regulated environment. 3. Investigate employee attitudes to the regulatory climate and the factors which influence their professional and/or workplace conduct and practice in relation to their engagement with the regulatory requirements. Given the ethical, perceptual, social and relational nature of engagement and regulation, the author used a qualitative approach to this study (Storr, 2004). The study sample was compiled using snowball sampling and eight respondents were interviewed. They were selected on the basis that they worked in the residential intellectual disability sector and experienced a HIQA inspection. The author identified a number of thought-provoking conclusions which are identified, interpreted and discussed in Section 5 of this paper. Employee engagement with the regulations is dependent on several variables which includetraining and supervision of employees, good leaderships and governance, communication and cultural awareness of practices and openness to new behaviours, all of which were identified by the respondents as either lacking or not present at all in some cases within their working environment. To conclude, the author considers the findings will be of significant interest to all stakeholders in the ID sector and may assist in creating a culture of compliance and engagement within this area.
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