Identifying the Core Competencies of Community Support Providers Working with People with Psychiatric Disabilities

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The study was intended to identify core competencies for community support providers working with people with psychiatric disabilities. Using multiple methods developed from previous research in the field of developmental disabilities, 18 consumers receiving services and 16 staff members from two mental health community support programs identified a list of 68 competencies that included personal attributes, knowledge, and skills. Based on a card sort task, 34 consumers receiving services and 34 support workers from six mental health community support programs rated 59 of the 68 competencies as being either absolutely necessary or desirable. Results of a second card sort task found that a majority of competencies identified as being needed pre-employment were personal attributes consistent with adopting a person-centered approach. Competencies categorized as to be learned on the job involved special knowledge and skills specific to working with people with psychiatric disabilities. The range of personal attributes, knowledge, skills represented in the identified competencies reflects the complexity of contemporary mental health community support. Findings are indicative of the need for specialized training and supervision that has not been typically available in the community mental health sector.

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