disability service organisations ! An
alternative model ! Community
research ! Community
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
Various disability groups and organisations promote themselves as
" or "community
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 ------>
------> education community
------> employment community
------> 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 <------ living community
<------ education community
<------ employment community
<------ 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
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
may be denied the good things in life that are available to others in
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
: takes up resources that are needed elsewhere
troublemaker : is always trying to standup for their basic rights
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
today (both literally and figuratively) that Goffman, Wolfensberger and
others wrote about in the past.
People with drug and alcohol problems
People with mental illnesses
People with high support needs
Sometimes people are separated
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.
needs Vs Personal
A person that is living in a single person dwelling, for example, would
some basic skills in maintaining the dwelling as well as personal
The person would also need to be able to access various facilities
work, recreational, education etc) in the local community in which
living. Any assistance would need to be provided by family, volunteer
professional help. Either way, the person has to arrange the assistance
(depending on the persons needs) with others that are providing the
the service is provided by a service provider, the person also has to
the service provider. The staff of the service provider provide the
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.
reports, care plans, medical charts, drug sheets, time sheets etc.
provide 24 hour support which means that there may not be a consistency
care. Alternatively, the person may be only supported a few hours a day
means that the person may be left by him/her self with no company for
of the day (which does happen).
People with high support needs (aged, severe disability, drug
etc) will need more intensive care and more structured settings. They
restricted in what they can and can’t do and are dependent on others.
the building is that they live in, because of their condition, they
be able to live independently.
Rather than build better individual housing, supported accommodation
we need to build better communities that are more able to fulfill the
provide valued roles to its members. By promoting institutions as an
part of the community, we can develop a more appropriate (and holistic)
approach to balancing the needs of people that have a physical or
disability with the needs of the community that they live in, i.e.
placed in accommodation that is most appropriate for their needs, 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
‘transposed the same structures, routines and cultures of institutions
community settings’ (Chenoweth 2000: 85). By contrast, other groups
deinstitutionalisation has been too transformative. In particular, some
relative/advocate associations have sought to counter community care
with an alternative construction of ‘reform’ that centres on the
not closure, of institutions through systematic improvements to
and services’ (Gleeson & Kearns 2001: 66). As we have noted, such
countercurrents have successfully (re)conditioned the course of human
and, in some states, reopened a policy-political ‘space’ for congregate
In summary, Australia’s future
phases of deinstitutionalisation are certain to be contested by
socio-political interests. As a consequence, the housing futures of
institutional residents are likely to be contested and – for some
– may not involve significant change to the place and form of their
Moreover, the rehousing of some institutional residents may be delayed
multiplicity of interests and support claims that will confront policy
and service agencies in the future. Whilst we do not support the
of orthodox forms of institutional care, the contest over housing
is increasingly apparent in Australian policy realms may not in itself
be a bad
thing for service users.
participation by all stakeholders in decision-making is a cornerstone
inclusion and essential to ensure that everyone can gain access to the
and support services they need to achieve their own potential in life.
means that a contested rehousing process will be constructive if it
reflective rather than conflictual service reform. Much will depend on
service agencies manage discussions and consultations about policy
(see Gleeson & Kearns 2001 on this). A more reflective mode of
in our opinion, more likely to produce heterogeneous not formulaic
support options for people in care. A diverse and flexible community
housing landscape will be better equipped to meet the individual
needs and desires of service users and thereby enhance social
Housing Landscapes? Social Inclusion, Deinstitutionalisation and
Think of the facility you are living in:
Is it a single dwelling, shared accommodation, a town house, a boarding
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
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When providing the most appropriate care for people with high support
1) The community is not where the
person is living, but where the
person participates, shares experiences and has valued relationships
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
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,
profession or service define the way the person is supported within
7) Facilities that support people with high support needs do not
need to be the nursing homes or prisons in the
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.