disability service organisations ! An
alternative model ! Community
research ! Community
Personal needs Vs
Social Role Valorisation (SRV)g
Disability and community
Personal needs Vs Community needs
There has been a great deal written about needs.
Marslow describes needs as being
hierarchical. There has been much discussion about the relationship of
one need to the other needs, however, I don't think that anyone will
disagree that these needs are real. A person may, or may not, have to
satisfy one or more needs in order to achieve another need.
Needs are often prioritised according
to what we are doing, and the amount of motiviation we have in
achieving that need.
Motivations can be ...
Internal: where need is more important
than the activity that we are participating in.
External: where the need comes from, or is related to, the activity
we are participating in. External motivations also come from our
family, where we work, our peer group, the radio and TV.
An example of the above is where I, and my family are hungry. My
internal need is to eat, however the external need is to feed my
family. I may choose to prioritise the needs of my family over my own
needs. I may also satisfy my own need in order to have the strength
etc., to satisfy the needs of my family. Whatever the motivations are,
they are all designed to fulfill a particular need. Whether the need is
physical or psychological, or there is a choice between fulfilling one
or more needs, the reality is that nothing much happens until that
particular need is fulfilled.
Rights are not something we should take
they are not given to us on a platter. Throughout history we see that
rights are fought for and the battle is ongoing to keep those rights.
These so call rights can be taken away from us at any time (and often
are) by the society/community in which we live. There is a Universal Declaration of
, for example, that is put in place to protect a
person's basic needs. But how often do we see these rights ignored or
circumnavigated when a particular agenda of a country, community or
government is propagated.
Australia is just as guilty as anyone else in this respect. This
happens all the time with groups of people such as the "Boat People",
some ethnic groups, people that have alcohol or drug dependency
problems etc. These people are generally assigned a devalued
label, role or status that serves as
justification for their treatment.
Only by fighting for their rights can a person achieve anything. Even
within hospitals, nursing homes, hostels, service organisations
etc., we see these basic rights (needs) are
not being met because of funding issues, staff issues, lack of
skills and resources etc.
People with disability (intellectual, physical etc.) are disadvantaged
in that they often need professional support in fulfilling their
personal needs that are not available in the wider community. This
professional support can come in any number of forms, shapes and sizes.
The Disability Services
Commission (Disability WA)
is in the process of developing a Disability
Access and Inclusion Plan
that is designed to provide a standard of
service delivery, where service users receive the most appropriate care
in providing the best outcomes for the person. Schedule 1 (below) is a
set of principles (rights of the service user) that guide service
Schedule 1 —
Principles applicable to people with disabilities
1.) People with disabilities have the inherent right to respect for
their human worth and dignity.
2.) People with disabilities, whatever the origin, nature, type or
degree of disability, have the same basic human rights as other members
of society and should be enabled to exercise those basic human rights.
3.) People with disabilities have the same rights as other members of
society to realise their individual capacities for physical, social,
emotional, intellectual and spiritual development.
4.) People with disabilities have the same right as other members of
society to services which will support their attaining a reasonable
quality of life in a way that also recognises the role and needs of
their families and carers.
5.) People with disabilities have the same right as other members of
society to participate in, direct and implement the decisions which
affect their lives.
6.) People with disabilities have the same right as other members of
society to receive services in a manner that results in the least
restriction of their rights and opportunities.
7.) People with disabilities have the same right as other members of
society to pursue any grievance concerning services.
8.) People with disabilities have the right to access the type of
services and supports that they believe are most appropriate to meet
9.) People with disabilities who reside in rural and regional areas
have a right, as far as is reasonable to expect, to have access to
similar services provided to people with disabilities who reside in the
10.) People with disabilities have a right to an environment free from
neglect, abuse, intimidation and exploitation.
As mentioned earlier, these service providers are communities
in their own right (Characteristics
of the service provider
), and have their own needs in
providing for the needs of its members. How the needs of the members
are met, depends on how the service meets it's own needs.
With any set of rights there is usually
a set of associated responsibilities. Just because a person may have
the right to decision making, for example, does not give them the right
to take illegal drugs, abuse others or jump of a cliff. Just as any
other member of any other community is restricted in what they can and
can't do, people who live, work or participate in social activities in
a community of a service provider are restricted in what they and and
While communities are as individual as
their members, they are usually
organised or built around a set of principles that allows the members
to participate in the community
... Access: the members must be able
access the community
... Communication: the members must be able to communicate with each
... Presence: the members must have some sort of relationship with
other members (see themselves, and are seen, as a part of the community)
... Participation: the members must have some sort of involvement
within the community
The community also needs ...
... A way of defining itself as a
:.. An agreement between the members about what the community
how it is to be done
These principles could be described as the characteristcits
of the community.
Characteristics of a community:
... Has one or more roles that
define its identity within
... Has a set of goals - provides a sense of direction.
... Is organised within a set of formal/informal
values, expectations and behaviours (institutions) that defines the
... The boundary may be explicit (physical) or implicit (defined by the
shared characteristics of its members).
... Has ownership of it's members.
... There is some form of communication between members.
... Has skills and resources that are shared between the members.
... Balance the needs of the community with the needs of its members.
... Often has clubs, teams, groups etc. within the
Communities are just like families in
the sense that just because we
may want something does not necessarily mean that we are going to get
it. Communities are a one size fits all approach where the needs of the
community come before the needs of the person. There are rules of
engagement, and behaviours and expectations, rights and
responsibilities that require us to fit into the community that we
participate in. A community may also have a different agenda to the
communities that it is a part of as well as the various communities
that make up that community. As a result the outcomes of the policies
of the community may be positive and beneficial to that community, and
in the process, disadvantage other communities that are a part of that
community. We see this in all parts of society, where the needs of one
community come before the needs of other communities that are a part of
the community. Within WA there are different communities that have
different needs. The health community has different needs to the
disability community, the mining community has different needs to the
farming community and the business community has different needs to the
recreation community. How do we balance the needs of the different
communities that make up the society in which we live?
Communities (clubs, businesses, services and
organisations etc) also have internal needs as well as external needs.
distinction has often been misunderstood, and as a result, communities
often treat these needs the same way. Internal needs are essential to
the community fulfilling its role in society, external needs allow the
community to participate in society. While external needs are essential
to the survival of the community, they are not essential to the role of
the community. External needs are needs that do not need to be sourced
within the community, While communication is an internal need, the type
of communication used is an external need. While transportation may
seem to be an internal need (to get from one place to another), it is
an external need, unless the role of
the community is to provide transportation. Communities that do not
prioritise these needs often find that their role becomes blurred,
unfocused or to generalised. This also creates a state of imbalance
within its own role in society, and the roles of the other communities
that it associates with in society. We see communities taking on roles
that are already provided by other
communities. Societies are probably
for this blurring of
Social values, attitudes and expectations dictate government policy and
determining what a community can and can't do.
The community needs to function as a
community. The principles described above allow the members to
participate with each other as a community.
... presence and participation - the
community must see itself as a
community by its members and others within the wider community.
... space (physical or virtual) - defines the arena of the community.
... leadership - leadership defines institutions of the community.
... goals - provide a sense of direction.
... boundaries - allows the community to define itself as a community.
... safety needs - members feel that they can call on other
members in times of need or when threatened.
... belongingness and love needs - ownership, shareing, affection,
... esteem needs - self-esteem, values,
expectations and behaviours, etc.
... self-actualization needs - empowernment, realising potential,
(Adapted from Abraham
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
What factors influence the way the
community fulfills its internal needs?
The needs of the person and the needs of the community:
... government policy and practice - rules, regulations.
... available skills and resources within the wider community.
... relationships with other communities - how do other communities
advantage or disadvantage the community?
From the above it can be seen that
there is very little difference
between the needs of a community and the needs of the members of the
community. Personal needs often conflict with each other in our lives.
Sometimes we need to make some hard decisions about which needs come
first. Communities are just the same in this respect. Which needs come
first? The needs of the members or the needs of the community? Are the
skills and resources more important to the needs of the members or the
needs of the community? What skills and resources can be provided
within the wider community? How does government policy and practice
impact on the community filfilling those needs?
Within society we see all sorts of disadvantaged groups. They
their own niche within government bureaucracy. The unemployed, elderly,
children, drug rehabilitation, people with disability, just
name a few, all have their own policies, procedures, criteria for
assistance etc. etc. etc. We need special services just to assess the
person's eligibility for a
service and to sort out
the maze of paper work. It can be quite daunting for a person to even
know where to
begin. Just because I may have a condition that is defined under the
Disability Services Act does not automatically mean that I will receive
support. I may be disadvantaged in that I do not fit into the criteria
(age, weight, income, personal supports, gender, type of disability
etc.) of any suitable service, or that the service does not have room
and I am put on a waiting list. All groups are disadvantaged to some
extent with regard to health care.
Do I have private health insurance? Is my condition classified as
elective treatment? How long do I have to wait for treatment? What are
the legal implications if I am over weight or have a some other
pre-existing condition or am allergic to some medications etc.
A person or group may also 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 Community needs
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.