Self-determination and the leisure experiences of women with intellectual disabilities living in two group homes
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This phenomenological case study aimed to understand the leisure experiences of 5 women with intellectual disabilities (ages 44-60) living in a two group homes. The experiences of the 5 women (3 in one home, 2 in another) were captured using the phenomenological methods of participant observation, artifacts, and semi-structured and active interviewing. Staff members from each home were also interviewed to give further context to the women's leisure experiences. The nature of the women's leisure experiences were understood within the conceptual framework of self-determination. The leisure experiences were encapsulated under 3 main themes (leisure at home, leisure in the community, leisure with family and friends). However, the subthemes indicated that the nature of the leisure experiences and opportunities for input into leisure were different in each home. The essence of the women's leisure experiences were strongly influenced by their interactions with staff who determined opportunities (or lack thereof) for the women to provide input into their leisure experiences. In one group home, leisure was self-directed, even when staff support was required for the women (independent selfdirected leisure; staff supported self-directed). In the same group home, leisure in the community was experienced independently (independent outings) even when staff were required to provide assistance in unfamiliar settings (accompanied outings). The women of this group home experienced leisure with family and friends when they initiated contact with loved ones (connecting with others). Conversely, many of the leisure experiences in the other group home were supervised even when the women chose the activity (supervised, self-directed leisure; supervised directed leisure). Community outings were also supervised (supervised outings) and leisure with family and friends was experienced when important others initiated contact (awaiting a connection with others). The women in one home experienced opportunities for input into spontaneous leisure at home as well as in the community. Even when staff support was required to engage in an activity, the type and amount of support was determined by the women. The leisure experiences for the women of the other home were defined, in large part, by planned and scheduled events in the home. The activities needed in the daily management of the group home appeared to take precedence over opportunities for leisure experiences and the women's input into the nature of their leisure experiences. The results draw attention to the environments of each home and the experiences of the women. The empowering effects of such a case study may elicit action on behalf of the reader through conscious raising of important issues (i.e., the importance of self-determination for people with disabilities). This study increases the awareness of the influence the context has on self-determination and has important implications for service providers in the field of disability.