Our community ! Understanding communities ! Dysfunctional communities
Characteristics of a community ! Characteristics of an institution
Building better communitiesAn alternative model ! Cartoons


People with disability (inclusive definition)
Removing the barriers to community participation and inclusion
A HOME OF MY OWN Right, Rhetoric or Reality?
Building values and relationships
Community valued roles and Social Role Valorisation (SRV)
Explanation of terms

A home of my own


Dreams are goals that we work towards. They give us a sense of direction and fulfillment. There is a feeling of satisfaction at having achieved our desires. Having control over one's life is a fundamental part of fulfilling those dreams. Having others to share those dreams with is also important. Unfortunately, the world rarely behaves the way we would like it to. Sometimes things happen that are out of our control and we just have to face the reality that some dreams will never happen. However, with the right support and skills anything is possible. The important thing is to keep an open mind and consider your options carefully. What may look good and inviting at first glance may have issues or problems that are not readily apparent.

The current "buzz" word around today is the ida of  "Community Living". That we aspire to have our own place to live. Close to friends and ammenities that are accessable. Other issues such as income, transport, medical or other special needs need to be taken into account. We need to look at our own needs and how those needs are going to be satisfied. We need to look at our own skills and resources as well as the skills and resources of each community we wish to be a part of.

Various disability groups and organisations promote themselves as promoting "community participation" or "community living", but what do they actually mean?
The goal of the current paradigm in the various Gov. departments, organisations and services is to include people with disability within a community.

This strategy is effective in providing local community supports for people with low to medium support needs.

People with low to medium support needs...
Groups/Organisations ------> living community
Groups/Organisations ------> education community
Groups/Organisations ------> employment community
Groups/Organisations ------> recreation/social community

What generally happens is that if the person does not have the skills and resources, or each community does not have the skills and resources ...
... The person keeps the existing communities that he/she was a part of.
... The existing communities that the person is a part of are relocated with the person into the new setting.
... New communities are created that have the skills and resources to provide for the person's needs. These new communities may be a part of a service or organisation within the wider community, or within the wider disability community.

People with high support needs 
Groups/Organisations <------ living community
Groups/Organisations <------ education community
Groups/Organisations <------ employment community
Groups/Organisations <------ recreation/social community

A person or group may be disadvantaged in that there is no service (skills or resources) that supports their needs.
In remote areas where there are no services,
or where they do not fit the criteria of a service,
or where a service does not have the skills and resources,
they have to rely on their own networks and support mechanisms or others in the community for support.

If the person or group does not have any support:
may become isolated
may become a burden on their own community
may be placed in other services that are not appropriate to their needs
may be grouped together
may be labeled with the same characteristics
may have their rights taken away from them
may be seen as a minority group and therefore may be treated as a minority group
may be denied the good things in life that are available to others in the community

A lack of skills and resources in the community also means that the person may be seen as:
a sick person : the person is treated differently to others
a nuisance : takes up resources that are needed elsewhere
a troublemaker : is always trying to standup for their basic rights
an object of pity : the person can not look after themselves
subhuman or retarded : is not capable of making their own decisions

In fact some members of these groups are often placed in the same settings today (both literally and figuratively) that Goffman, Wolfensberger and others wrote about in the past.
Asylum seekers
People with drug and alcohol problems
People with mental illnesses
People with high support needs

Sometimes people are separated for their own good and in the best interests of their community ...
they are a harm to themselves
they are a harm to others in their community

The above can happen in any place at any time where the community does not have the skills and resources to look after their needs.

Community needs Vs Personal needs

A person that is living in a single person dwelling, for example, would need some basic skills in maintaining the dwelling as well as personal living skills. The person would also need to be able to access various facilities (shopping, work, recreational, education etc) in the local community in which he/she in living. Any assistance would need to be provided by family, volunteer or professional help. Either way, the person has to arrange the assistance (depending on the persons needs) with others that are providing the service. If the service is provided by a service provider, the person also has to fit into the service provider. The staff of the service provider provide the service, which means that the various formal / informal cultures, objectives, hierarchies, goals, policies, constitutions, unwritten laws or codes of behaviour etc, become a part of the normal routine of the dwelling. There are reports, care plans, medical charts, drug sheets, time sheets etc. Staff may provide 24 hour support which means that there may not be a consistency of care. Alternatively, the person may be only supported a few hours a day which means that the person may be left by him/her self with no company for the rest of the day (which does happen).

People with high support needs (aged, severe disability, drug rehabilitation etc) will need more intensive care and more structured settings. They are restricted in what they can and can’t do and are dependent on others. Whatever the building is that they live in, because of their condition, they will never be able to live independently.

Rather than build better individual housing, supported accommodation etc, maybe we need to build better communities that are more able to fulfill the needs and provide valued roles to its members. By promoting institutions as an important part of the community, we can develop a more appropriate (and holistic) approach to balancing the needs of people that have a physical or intellectual disability with the needs of the community that they live in, i.e. people are placed in accommodation that is most appropriate for their needs, as well as the needs of the community in which they live.

"On the one hand, some critics have argued that deinstitutionalisation has resulted in at best reformist housing models and at worst exclusionary housing processes that have ‘transposed the same structures, routines and cultures of institutions out into community settings’ (Chenoweth 2000: 85). By contrast, other groups feel that deinstitutionalisation has been too transformative. In particular, some relative/advocate associations have sought to counter community care debates with an alternative construction of ‘reform’ that centres on the ‘re-creation, not closure, of institutions through systematic improvements to infrastructure and services’ (Gleeson & Kearns 2001: 66). As we have noted, such countercurrents have successfully (re)conditioned the course of human service reform and, in some states, reopened a policy-political ‘space’ for congregate care.

In summary, Australia’s future phases of deinstitutionalisation are certain to be contested by different socio-political interests. As a consequence, the housing futures of current institutional residents are likely to be contested and – for some service users – may not involve significant change to the place and form of their care. Moreover, the rehousing of some institutional residents may be delayed by the multiplicity of interests and support claims that will confront policy makers and service agencies in the future. Whilst we do not support the continuation of orthodox forms of institutional care, the contest over housing futures that is increasingly apparent in Australian policy realms may not in itself be a bad thing for service users.

Indeed, promoting participation by all stakeholders in decision-making is a cornerstone of social inclusion and essential to ensure that everyone can gain access to the housing and support services they need to achieve their own potential in life. This means that a contested rehousing process will be constructive if it produces reflective rather than conflictual service reform. Much will depend on how service agencies manage discussions and consultations about policy development (see Gleeson & Kearns 2001 on this). A more reflective mode of reform is, in our opinion, more likely to produce heterogeneous not formulaic housing and support options for people in care. A diverse and flexible community care housing landscape will be better equipped to meet the individual accommodation needs and desires of service users and thereby enhance social inclusion." (Contested Housing Landscapes? Social Inclusion, Deinstitutionalisation and Housing Policy in Australia)

Think of the facility you are living in:
Is it a single dwelling, shared accommodation, a town house, a boarding house, an apartment or in a block of flats?
Where is the facility located?
Do you enjoy living in the facility?
What networks and valued relationships do you have within the facility?
What networks and valued relationships do you have in the wider community?

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When providing the most appropriate care for people with high support needs ...
1) The community is not where the person is living, but where the person participates, shares experiences and has valued relationships with others.
2) People with high support needs (severe disability, aged etc.) will always need support structures as a part of their lives.
3) The amount of participation in a community (living, education, employment or recreation) is directly related to the skills and resources of the person, and, the skills and resources of the community that the person wishes to participate in.
4) Institutions are going to be around in one form or another whether we like it or not, It is the way that they are used that is the problem.
5) The institutions of a society towards a particular group determine the way the group participates in society.
6) The institutions of a particular government department, organisation, profession or service define the way the person is supported within that society.
7) Facilities that support people with high support needs do not need to be the nursing homes or prisons in the sense that they are today, but can become warm inviting community places that offer a range of services to the community, as well as be a part of the wider community within that society.
8) People with high support needs are a minority group in our society, and will have the same problems as other minority groups in being a part of society.

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