I get by with a little help from my friends.

Social care professionals can dramatically improve their care practices by studying and understanding social support.

The accomplishments of Dynatron and other research affiliates of the University of Oregon’s Specialized Training Program were used to create new federal employment policies for people with developmental disabilities. Supported employment was created to provide publicly funded professional support for companies employing people with developmental disabilities.

I was responsible for two research projects. One studied the social effects of employing people with developmental disabilities, and the other studied the economic effects of employing the same people. We discovered that the productivity and wellbeing of people with developmental disabilities were the result of co-worker social support networks.

Wacker Siltronic hired a man who was institutionalized most of his life in Oregon’s Fairview Training Center. Within his first year on the job, he was earning significant wages and living with family support in Portland. The social support network saved the State of Oregon over $60,000 per year while providing a quality of support that enabled their new employee to live free from welfare and professional services.

The Wacker Siltronic’s case study offers an important lesson for those who wish to consult, coach or provide services in organizations. Designing effective services, consultations and coaching need to begin with a deep understanding of what already naturally is occurring in organizations. What is needed is not a problem focus but a focus on the capacity of folks to create health and wellbeing at work.