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

Social Role Valorisation (SRV) and the concept of Deinstitutionalisation
Institutionalisation, Deinstitutionalisation and Reinstitutionalisation

Social Role Valorisation (SRV) uses the concept of roles in the Implicit sense in that roles are used to generalise the values, behaviours and expectations (the institutions) that define the person or people, within a particular group, activity and setting, as a normal part of society. While this generalisation is true in the most part, I think that it is unwise to assume that the institutions of all activities and settings share the same roles.

For example, Wolfensberger describes in his paper "The Origin and Nature of Our Institutional Models" the buildings that devalued people were institutionalised in. They are characterised by the values, behaviours and expectations within the building. Rather than being institutionalised in these buildings, they were placed in these buildings because there was nowhere else. Because of a lack of skills and resources in the community they were assigned a devalued status. Once this transition happened, it became a normal part of community life (normalised in the community) in a sense that "these people are devalued lets lock them up". The outcome was that people who can not look after themselves, and need a structured life, were placed in large buildings that could provide their basic needs i.e.: they were institutionalised.

If I showed you a photo of a building, chances are that you would not know what its role was unless you knew what happened inside the building. In our community, we see all sorts of activities that are carried out in buildings of a similar design that have similar institutions (universities, hospitals, hotels, office buildings, factories etc). We also see examples of people being assigned a devalued status outside these buildings in communities.

Wolfensberger uses imagery (Semiotics- Signs and Symbols, Image Juxtaposition, Image Transference etc) with great effect so that the reader has an idea of what it may have been like to live in one of those facilities as well as society in general, and how he/she can avoid the same thing in the future. Maybe he has done his work to well, in as much as the points that he is trying to make and concepts he is trying to explain have been absorbed into almost every corner of our culture with gay abandon.

Just because a person has a valued role and is living in a home by himself or with others does not mean that his life is any less institutionalised (in the context of SRV) than he would be when living with 20 or even 200 others.

Whether the person with a disability is institutionalised (in the context of SRV) would depend on the:
... the model of care
... the amount of support the person has
... amount of restrictions the person has
... the setting of activities
... the structure of activities
... the person's relationships with others
... the formal/informal cultures, values, policies, practices and, the behaviours and expectations (institutions) of the administration and staff of the service provider.
(See Barriers to community participation)

When moving from one community (living, recreation, employment or education) to another, for example, we take on the policies and practices, cultures, behaviours, rules and regulations - the normal rhythms - of the community. We have to fit into the particular institutions of the community that we are joining.
Sometimes when the goal is the de-institutionalise a person, all we end up doing is re-institutionalising the person.

By changing the cultures, values, policies, practices and, the behaviours and expectations of a community (living, recreation, education or employment), where people with high support needs have a better quality of life, we change the institutions of the community.

To Re-institutionalise then, is to bring about, or normalise, a behaviour, activity or policy that supports disadvantaged people within a setting, where that behaviour, activity or policy becomes a part of the setting (institutionalised).

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.

Peter Anderson