La Trobe University researchers are investigating ways to increase social inclusion for adults with an intellectual disability.
Chief investigator Emma Bould said previous studies found many adults with an intellectual disability living in a shared supported group home or a supported living arrangement felt lonely.
Few of the participants in that study had close friends or social connections.
“It is not enough for a person with a disability to just reside in the community,” Dr Bould said.
“What we are trying to build is a strong evidence base for ways in which we can support people to be more socially included and to get to know more people in their neighbourhood, which I think can be difficult for everyone to do.”
She and her colleagues are seeking volunteers from the Bendigo community to be involved in a study, which will go for about 16 weeks.
A researcher will join the participant in a weekly, one hour exploration of their neighbourhood for 14 of those weeks.
Dr Bould said participants would determine where they would like to go.
“You might like to go to the local park, or you might want to go to the shops or somewhere else near to where you live. It is up to you,” she said.
The first week will be spent getting to know the participant and their key worker.
Participants will complete a survey in the final week.
Some participants will have the option of a companion dog joining their outings.
La Trobe University’s Living with Disability Research Centre and Anthrozoology Research Group are conducting the study, which builds on a body of research led by Professor Christine Bigby.
Dr Bould said people interested in getting involved could call 9479 1556 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.