Background Individuals in group homes may experience poor quality of social interaction with their professional caregivers, limiting their quality of life. The video-based Contact programme may help caregivers to improve their interaction with clients. Method Seventy-two caregivers of 12 individuals with visual and intellectual disabilities received a training programme and four individual video-feedback sessions. Quality of interaction was independently measured in an AB-design across subjects with two baseline and three intervention observations, using a time sampling coding system for interactive behaviour as well as a rating for affective mutuality. Results From baseline to intervention, significant increases were found for the frequency with which caregivers confirmed the signals of clients, for the proportion of initiatives taken by clients that were responded to by the caregivers, and the affective mutuality as a quality of the interaction. No significant increase in client responsiveness was observed. Caregivers evaluated the intervention as useful and feasible. Conclusions The start of the Contact programme coincided with improved quality of interaction between professional caregivers and clients with visual and intellectual disabilities in group homes. Further research is necessary regarding the generalisability, long-term effects and effects on quality of life. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.