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Safety First! The Topic of Safety in Reversed Integration of People With Intellectual Disabilities

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Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities

Published online on


Background: Physical integration is believed to be a precondition for social integration. One might expect that in so‐called reversed integration, where people without intellectual disabilities (ID) actively choose to live next to people with ID, conditions for physical integration are more optimal, and social integration is enhanced. If this hypothesized benefit of reversed integration settings indeed holds, however, is yet unknown. Specific aims: The aim of the present study is to examine barriers for social integration of people with ID. In this context, the present article focuses on the role of safety and safety concerns. Method: A semi structured interview was conducted with 28 direct support professionals (DSPs), 25 family members, and 25 neighbors, aimed at their attitude toward social integration in a reversed integration neighborhood. Several topics were dealt with, like the neighborhood and contact between people with ID and neighbors. There were no explicit questions about safety in the interview. Findings: The topic of safety was spontaneously mentioned 90 times by 26 DSPs, 15 times by 9 neighbors, and 36 times by 18 family members. Three main themes were found in the total group of statements touching upon the issue of safety: environmental aspects, client characteristics, and working conditions. The most often mentioned subthemes were the openness of the neighborhood and the traffic. Discussion: In reversed integration, safety is still a highly relevant topic and of great concern for the DSPs and the family members. DSPs are more concerned with controlling risks and keeping everybody safe than looking at the opportunities the new environment offers, like enhancing social integration.