Continued Employability of Older Adults with Mental Retardation


Harvey L. Sterns, Ph.D. & Elizabeth A. Kennedy, Ph.D., Joanna Miller, B.A., Graduate Research Assistant
University of Akron, 2002

What This Project Is About:
This study has been gathering information about work through the use of interviews and surveys. Interviews were conducted with service providers at 10 vocational centers. These interviews involved people who assign jobs and set work goals for adult and older adult workers with mental retardation. We wanted to see how work goals were set and met for adults and older adults with mental retardation. We wanted to see what changes were made for older workers.

What We Are Doing:
We are surveying service providers from 20 states who work at the different vocational rehabilitation and occupational agencies. We want to see the kinds of training and jobs adult and older adult workers are getting. We are using results from this ongoing research in developing the new work curriculum.
We will have focus groups from northern Ohio areas. These groups will include 15 service providers and companies. This will also include 15 adult and older adult workers. These groups will talk about how to get more jobs for adults and older adults with mental retardation. The groups will also talk about meeting the needs and improving the working conditions for adult and older adult workers with mental retardation. This could include finding better jobs, switching to a better work schedule, improving interaction with other co-workers.

How the Project’s Information Will be Used:
This study’s information is being used to write a training curriculum and technical assistance papers to make work easier for adult and older adult workers with mental retardation. This information will be used to develop a position paper for staff that help train and find jobs for adults and older adults with mental retardation. Finally, this study’s information will be used to write a report on the current trends in the employment of, and the working conditions for adult and older adults with mental retardation. The outline of the curriculum being developed is presented below:

Curriculum:
Lesson 1: What is Work?
OUTLINE
I. Let’s Talk About Work
a. Talking About the Work You and Your Friends & Family Members do
i. Where do you work? / Where have you worked?
ii. What do you do/What did you do at your job?
iii. Where do your friends and/or family members work? What do they do at their jobs?
b. What is Work?
c. Why do People Work?
d. What different types of Work are there?
i. Different Jobs People Do
ii. Different Work Schedules People Have

Lesson 2: When Work Changes
OUTLINE
I. When People Might Want to Change Their Work
a. Changing What You Do at Work
b. Changing When You Work
i. When You Work
ii. How Much You Work
II. Retirement
a. What is Retirement?
b. Why do People Choose to Retire?
i. Aging People: Getting Older and Slowing Down
ii. People Want to Spend Their Time Doing Other Things
III. What Do People do when They are Retired?

Lesson 3: Behavior at Work
OUTLINE
I. Behavior at Work
a. What is a Valuable Employee?
i. What does “Valuable” mean?
ii. What does a “Valuable Employee” mean?
iii. When is Someone not a Valuable Employee?
b. Being a Valuable Employee
i. Why is it Important to be a Valuable Employee?
ii. What can You do to be a Valuable Employee? c. Handling Difficulties at Work
i. When You have a Bad Work Day
ii. When You have Problems with a Co-Worker/Customer
iii. When You have Problems doing Your Job
iv. Getting Help When You Need It

Lesson 4: Having a Job You Like
OUTLINE
I. Having a Job You Like
a. What is the “Perfect” Job for You?
i. What kind of work do You like to do?
ii. What do You like about Working?
iii. What can You do at Work?
1. Training You have had
2. Skills You have learned on the Job
II. Making Your Job into a Job You Like
a. Working with the Job Coach and other Mentors
b. Being a Valuable Employee

Lesson 5: Changing Jobs
OUTLINE
I. Changing Jobs
a. Knowing When It is Time to Change Jobs
b. Making the Change Part of Your IP/IHP
c. How to Quit a Job
II. Losing Your Job
a. Getting Laid Off
b. Getting Fired
III. How to Find Another Job
a. Choosing a New Job
b. Applying for a New Job
c. Interviewing for a New Job
IV. Succeeding at Your New Job


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