Research excellence at the University of Kent

The Tizard Centre

The Research Excellence Framework also assesses the impact that the research has outside academia. The case studies below are a selection of the research submitted by the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research.

In 2014, the University was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for the work of the Tizard Centre and its contribution to improving the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Managing challenging behaviour

Professor Peter McGill, Professor Glynis Murphy

Even if most people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) could be resettled into the community, the established view used to be that those exhibiting challenging or criminal behaviour would have to remain in hospital or prison. However, studies by a Kent team led by Peter McGill and Glynis Murphy contradicted this widely-held belief.

Their research demonstrated that managing challenging behaviour among those with IDD is possible through a combination of resettlement, Positive Behaviour Support, cognitive behavioural treatment and appropriate intervention. These findings have influenced policies and practices, with the researchers serving on Government advisory committees, writing policy documents and delivering training to service providers. The researchers were also involved in the creation of a new UK-based charity, the Challenging Behaviour Foundation.

Challenging behaviour

Living in community settings

Professor Jim Mansell, Dr Julie Beadle-Brown

Pioneering research at Kent by the late Jim Mansell and Julie Beadle-Brown has shown that small-scale, dispersed community settings provide the best quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Evidence demonstrated that this kind of setting is able to improve social networks and friendships, aid adaptive behaviour, improve family satisfaction and enhance choice and autonomy. These benefits are further enhanced when staff employ a style of interaction known as Person-centred Active Support.

The findings of the research have transformed the political and public debate around reducing the reliance on institutional environments for people with IDD. The work has also informed the management of services and improved the lives of people with IDD by changing the practices and attitudes of staff. These positive effects have reached far beyond the UK, extending to Ireland, Central and Eastern Europe, Australia and elsewhere.

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Last Updated: 11/02/2015

Banner photo (c) Simon Tollington, DICE