The impact of size of residence on residents' opportunities for choice was examined for Australian adults with mental retardation who lived in staff-supported community residences housing one to five residents. Significantly greater choice was exercised by individuals living in smaller settings, even when personal characteristics of individual residents were controlled statistically. Staff presence was confounded with living-unit size. Analyses including both staff presence and living-unit size revealed strong effects of staff presence, with more choice displayed in settings with longer periods when no staff members were present. Size effects were less evident once the variability associated with staff presence had been accounted for. Results suggest that both staff presence and living-unit size are important predictors of choice.
The research reported in this paper was conducted at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, and was supported by an Australian Postgraduate Research Award and a grant from the New South Wales Department of Community Services. The views expressed are those of the author. Sincere thanks are extended to the participants and community living staff who gave generously of their time to provide the information for this study. The author wrote this article while he was a Research Fellow, University of Minnesota, Center on Residential Services and Community Living, Institute on Community Integration (UAP).