Enabling mainstream services to be more inclusive

This research theme is primarily concerned with finding ways of making mainstream services more accessible and responsive to people with cognitive disabilities. Despite the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, mainstream services will continue to provide the vast majority of services and supports required by people with cognitive disabilities.

Current projects

Increasing the quality of hospital care for people with cognitive disability

Research team
Professor Teresa Iacono - La Trobe University
Professor Jacinta Douglas - La Trobe University
Professor Christine Bigby – La Trobe University
Dr Jo Spong - La Trobe University
Dr Ana Garcia Melgar - La Trobe University
Dr William Crisp - La Trobe University

Project aim: The aim of this project is to translate research evidence from a previous study conducted by the Living with Disability Research Centre, Enabling mainstream services to be more inclusive. The project is concerned with understanding what is necessary to ensure quality hospital care for people with cognitive disabilities in Victoria. This project brings together regional and metropolitan hospitals and disability services. Key activities include the trial and evaluation of multi-media training for patients, families, disability support workers and hospital staff to improve hospital care and the experiences of adults with cognitive disabilities. This work is particularly timely in light of the particular health vulnerabilities of people with life-long or long-term disabilities in the current COVID-19 environment.

Funding: NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building
Date: 2020
Contact: Professor Teresa Iacono - T.Iacono@latrobe.edu.au

Building healthy communities with the social model of disability: A randomised controlled trial of shifting perceptions to enhance inclusive school education

Research Team
Professor Teresa Iacono - La Trobe University
Dr Jo Spong - La Trobe Rural Health School
Dr Kerryn Bagley - La Trobe Rural Health School
Dr Oriane Landry
Professor Michael Arthur-Kelly - University of Newcastle

Project aim: Within the social model of disability, inclusion occurs when reasonable adjustments are made to enable access to mainstream processes and structures to address needs arising from a person’s impairment. Expectations that schools will implement reasonable adjustments for students with disabilities are embedded within legislation and policy. The aim of this study was to test the premise that embedding the social model of disability into training, which also addresses the provision of real and authentic learning opportunities, will improve the quality of reasonable adjustments designed by stakeholders in the education of students with disability. The key component of this project is the development of a Reasonable Adjustments for Inclusive Education rating scale and using it to test the efficacy of an educational intervention on designing supports for school students with disability.

Funding: Building Healthy Communities Research Focus Area (La Trobe University)
Date: 2018
Contact: Professor Teresa Iacono - T.Iacono@latrobe.edu.au

Recent projects

Supporting inclusion in mainstream schools

Research team:
Professor Teresa Iacono - La Trobe University
Associate Professor Mary Keeffe - La Trobe University
Professor Amand Kenny - La Trobe Rural Health School
Associate Professor Carol McKinstry - La Trobe Rural Health School

Project aim: The project aimed to develop options to enable specialist schools to become ‘Centres of Expertise’ to support local mainstream schools to implement inclusive education. In 2017, the Victorian Government stated that as part of its agenda for inclusive education for all students with disabilities and additional needs it would explore options to enable speicailist schools to come "Centres of Expertise" to help and support local mainstream schools to implement inclusive education. This project brought together stakeholders from across La Trobe University and specialist and mainstream school communities to co-design options about how the expertise in Specialist Schools could be harnessed to support mainstream schools to be inclusive of students with disabilities.

Funding: Victorian Principals’ Association of Specialist Schools

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Co-designing online modules to strengthen inclusive educational supports for children with disability though collaboration with allied health

Research team
Professor Teresa Iacono - La Trobe University
Dr Nerida Hyett - La Trobe Rural Health School
Dr Jo Spong - La Trobe Rural Health School
Associate Professor Carol McKinstry - La Trobe Rural Health School
Dr Kerryn Bagley - La Trobe Rural Health School
Dr Oriane Landry

Project aim: The aim of this project was to bring together a co-design group, comprising parents of children with disability, education staff, and allied health practitioners to develope the content for an online package to support the development of reasonable adjustments within mainstream schools that could support the inclusion of students with disability. The package demonstrates how these supports can maintain a child focus, while meeting requirements under the NDIS and The Program for Students with Disability funding.

Funding: NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building

Enabling mainstream systems to be more responsive to people with disabilities: Hospital encounters of adults with cognitive disabilities

Research Team
Professor Christine Bigby - La Trobe University
Professor Jacinta Douglas - La Trobe University
Professor Teresa Iacono - La Trobe University

Project aim: This project explored the interfaces across mainstream service systems, people with disabilities and their families, and disability service systems. Maximising the way members of these three groups communicate and work together is a major challenge in the current disability policy environment and one that significantly affects the quality of life of people with disabilities. The aim of this project was to provide evidence about the processes and practices that enable mainstream services to identify and respond to the particular needs of people with disabilities as a matter of course. Taking a strengths-based approach, identified through this study were promising individual ad hoc and systematic processes and practices – Promising Practices – that helped to accommodate the needs of people with cognitive disabilities and facilitate their receipt of high-quality hospital care.

Funding: National Disability Research and Development Agenda

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