"We're Human": An Analysis of Formal and Informal Training Methods for Direct Care Staff Working with Dual-Diagnosis Populations

Direct care staff, or DCS, are individuals tasked with providing a number of care services to individuals with disabilities in various settings. This study focuses on a group of direct care staff working at a day habilitation program in central West Virginia. Training techniques used to prepare these workers for a diverse array of roles are reviewed comparatively and through a sociological theoretical lens utilizing perspectives from Bandura (1977), Laubach (2005), Marx (1964), and Wolfensberger (1983). Semi-structured interview results indicate that formal training is driven by a less valorous view of disabled individuals as a class than informal training; that informal training is driven by social learning; that direct care workers do not experience alienation of their labor as intensely as those in other professions; and, that in residential direct care settings, clients act as brokers for the transaction of consent between the informal periphery and the administrative clan. Implications are discussed in the conclusion.