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The role of Social Role Valorisation in the community

Social Role Valorisation (SRV)
Disability services
Disability and community

Community valued roles and Social Role Valorisation (SRV)
Social Role Valorisation and the community
Valued roles or Valued relationships
Explanation of terms

The role of Social Role Valorisation in the community
Social Role Valorisation
Over protective
Placed in unrealistic settings
Place unrealistic expectations on others participating in the activity
Conflict of interests / policies
Conflict in models of care
May be seen as a nuisance or a troublemaker
Symbols of authority
Association to a service provider
Normalisation of practice

Each community has a particular role that fulfils a particular need.
Valued community roles provide a common cause or focus for the community, as well as other communities that are a part of it.
Valued communities provide valued roles for their members.
Social role valorisation provides valued roles for ALL members of the community.

Communities that have valued roles in society …
... The spiritual community
... The family community
... The living community
... The recreational community
... The learning community
... The employment community
... The health community
... The internet community
... The blind community
... The disability community
The values of community start in the home where children have valued roles in supporting others at school, sport or any other community that they participate in.

Communities that have de-valued roles in society …
... The AIDS community
... The drugs / rave communities
... The criminal community
... The gay / lesbian communities
... The Muslim community
... The bikie community
... The street community
... The unemployment / homeless communities
... The aged community
... The single parent community

Social Role Valorisation

SRV is designed to enhance Social Images and Personal Competencies where disadvantaged people are more likely to be included in society (at a personal level, the immediate social system around that person (family, friends, colleagues, workers in institutions etc.), the intermediate social system that the person interacts with (people in shops, banks, organisations etc. plus those institutions themselves.) and the larger society- the socio-political-economic structures of society. (Diligio: Social Role Valorization - Understanding SRV (April 2004). P.79-80).

The paradigm focuses on creating valued roles for the person within the community. There is nothing about creating a valued role for the community, or the roles of the members of the community in supporting people with high support needs.

I feel that the SRV needs to be reformulated to include:
All members of all communities, clubs and groups within society.
Where they are all valued, and have a valued role in participating in each community (club, group or organisation) within society,
that is most appropriate to their own needs, as well as the needs of each community in which they participate,
where the outcomes are positively valued by ALL members of the community, as well as other communities that it is a part of.

The above has more relevance in today’s society. Generally, the conditions that people with disability live in today have changed. They are more likely to have a valued role in society. Whether they are any better of today, as compared to the conditions that they lived in and the conditions of the society that they lived in, is open to conjecture and is being debated by the various stakeholders in society. We see that the current formulation of SRV can not deal with the changing needs of the communities that people with high support needs are placed in.

A community approach to SRV, on the other hand, is more inclusive and more descriptive (explicit) in the sense that the term "community" can be used to describe our roles, relationships, behaviours and expectations with each other. A school community, for example, is different to a living community, which is different to a recreational community. While each community is different and has different outcomes, they share simular characteristics and institutions.

When used properly, SRV is an effective strategy in proving disadvantaged people a better quality of life. However, the above shows that needs to be some caution in applying it's principles in any situation. Are we trying to empower a person through SRV ? Are we trying to provide a valued role through empowerment ? What is the person’s role in the process ? Does the person have the necessary skills and resources? What is the community's role in the process ? Does the community have the necessary skills and resources ?

What happens when the nature of a person's disability means that a positively valued role cannot be created for the person ? People with severe CP etc are not able to fulfill a role means that the value must come from somewhere else, rather than the role. We need to provide the community with a valued role (through various strategies) in supporting the person. A person with a severe disability that cannot have a role assigned to them, or be placed in an existing role, still has the opportunity to be treated and valued the same as you or me.

By using SRV in a supportive role that provides the foundation for the model of service delivery, rather than the model itself, we can see that values are more than a persons role (person cantered), they are the way we share our experiences and relationships with others within an activity, within a setting (person <-> community).

We need to respect the wishes of the community (school, person, family and relatives, and other members of the community) in their decision that the support or activity may not suitable, or that they want the support or activity provided in a certain way, even when it is against the principles of SRV. (as opposed to legal issues, human rights issues, moral issues, cultural issues, medical issues etc, which are beyond the scope of this paper). We can explain our reasons and the benefits for doing something a particular way, but we need to keep in mind that the customer is always right. We need to respect their institutions (values, customs and cultures etc). Only by gaining their trust and confidence can we make any difference in their lives. Having the opportunity to learn from experience and make informed decisions about their lives is the first step towards empowerment. Also, by understanding their perspective, there is the possibility that we may learn something new through the experience.

It is too easy to patronise people that have high support needs. We may unconsciously behave in a way that may do more harm than good. An example is where a person has a painting or pottery that has the persons name on it, and it is obvious that the person could not have created the work him/her self. By rewarding the person for the work (e.g.: that's a great painting you did, and you got a prize for it, you are very creative) can be demeaning to the person. We need to focus on what the person can do and the positive aspects of the person. In doing this we are less likely to set the person up for ridicule or failure.

Effective communication between members is vital to organisational planing. Communication is not a one way exchange. The community needs to be able to communicate with its members in order to achieve its goals. The members communicate with each other to share thoughts, feelings, experiences, skills and knowledge. Clear thinking and expression of thoughts is essential to effective communication. The community also needs to communicate with others outside the community. To function effectively as a community, the community needs to be able to respond to events that are outside the community and have an impact on the community. Communication allows the members to understand their role and the roles of others in the community.
Effective communication ..
all members feel a part of the process
all members are valued for their input
the community runs smoothly, efficiently and effectively

 Over protective:
In the goal to provide "the good things in life" to disadvantaged people, there is a risk that we may shelter them from the perceived bad things. We may deny the person the experience of something we feel that may or may not be in the best interests of the person. We place our own values and experiences on the activity and make decisions, based on those values and experiences, on what the person can or can not participate in. The person is denied the opportunity to learn from the experience and make an informed decision about the experience. Instead of encouraging people to do things themselves,  we may do it for them because it is easier that taking the time to assist them. In time the person looses the skills that they once had because those things are done for them.

 Placed in unrealistic settings:
People are sometimes put into settings that are often counter productive to the person and the others that are participating in the activity. While the intention is to provide a person with the experiences of everyday life, we may forget that others in the setting are also participating in the activity. We have a responsibility to the person and the others that the person fits into the setting as much as possible. In a train, for example, a person with an intellectual disability is walking up and down the aisle with the aide. The aide is familiar with the persons behaviour and assumes that the behaviour is acceptable. The behaviour is unsettling to the other passengers who are not familiar with the person and only reinforces their negative perceptions and expectations of people that have an intellectual disability in general. When travelling in a train the accepted behaviour (custom) is to sit down or stand stationary. Anyone (white, black, green or has a disability) that walks up and down a train will be seen as strange.

 Place unrealistic expectations on others participating in the activity:
By including a person with high support needs (with an aide) in a classroom with other "normal" people, the person may be a distraction to the class, and the others are disadvantaged. If not done properly, it is possible that the others in the classroom may feel some resentment towards the person with high support needs being included in the activity.

Conflict of interests / policies:
Often, a person with high support needs has a number of characteristics that need specialist care. The person may have a medical condition that requires regular attention. Do we allow the person to participate in the activity with appropriate medical care, or do we deny the person the opportunity to participate in the activity because of the particular condition? Or do we deny the person the opportunity to participate because of a particular policy or rule of the service provider? Do we refer to the residents by their name (respect) or as a room number (confidentiality - this does actually happen).

 Conflict in models of care:
Conflict between the values of the medical approach vrs the values of the social approach towards service delivery in providing the most appropriate care (providing medical care vrs providing a home like environment). People with high support needs often need special attention to their personal needs (feeding, medications at special times, toileting etc). Do we take them out of their setting to give them their lunch in another more private setting? Do we wake them up three or four times at night to give their medications or check their pads, when the medications can be given and the pads can be checked, at other times. Do we insist that a person goes out for an activity when the person is sick, has a runny nose or a cold.

Balancing the needs of the person, with the needs of the others in the setting, with the needs of the staff, with the needs of the service provider:
In any setting there is always going to be a conflict in meeting the needs of all members. Staff can not be at two places at once, equipment etc can only be used by one person at a time. Residents in an accommodation setting often have their independence taken away from them because staff have other things to do and can not spend time with the resident, or there is a lack of communication between staff and the resident, or the activity or behaviour of a resident does not fit into the routine of the residence. Staff are also often undervalued and taken for granted in providing support. Staff also need to be respected and valued in their role in supporting people with disability.

May be seen as a nuisance or a troublemaker:
Where a person with a disability is trying to standup for his/her basic rights, they may be punished for upsetting the normal routine of the facility. If a resident wants to stay up late, for example, they may be disciplined in some way or just ignored because the resident has always gone to bed at a certain time.
The immediate family of a people with high support needs may see something that they feel in not in the best interests of the person. They may try to step in to a work place and start telling the staff how to do their job.
They are seen as:
Interfering in the workplace
Snooping into other peoples business
Interrupting the normal rhythm and routine of the workplace

Symbols of authority:
Within the service setting, we see symbols of authority:
Residents are often referred to as clients, patients or even room numbers.
Staff office.
Staff name tags.
Report books and charts.
Ownership of individuals through direct intervention in the provision of care.

Association to a service provider:
The service provider may promote itself in the wider community as supporting a particular group to raise awareness and support through advertising, signs, labels, brochures and various community activities The individual may be seen as an object of charity. Just as a group of school children become associated with a particular school, or people that wear leather jackets and chains are associated with bike groups, people with an intellectual or physical disability may become associated with a particular service provider.

Profiling is the practice of targeting a specific group according to a set of criteria (disability, age, income or activity). This practice may disadvantage some groups is as much as they may not be eligible, or the service may not be available in a certain area, or they are grouped together with others of the same characteristics.

 Normalisation of practice
Over a period of time, a particular activity or behaviour may become embedded into the culture of the community (institutionalised). What may be appropriate at a particular time in a particular situation may become generalised (as a learned behaviour) and accepted a part of the normal routine of the community. Societies also absorb cultures and institutions from other societies where members of both live together. Sometimes members try to revive the cultures and institutions that have been lost. A resident used to stay up late, for example, and dance to music. The person always had a good sleep and was happy. With the change of staff, the person no longer stays up. The normal practice now is for the person to go to bed early. The person becomes cranky and difficult because 1) the activity has been removed, and 2) the resident spends an excessive amount of time in bed. All of a sudden the resident has a behavioural problem and as a result has a management plan as well as medications to control the bevaviour.

Any formal/informal cultures, policies, values, behaviours, expectations within a community or workplace are generally determined by the community leaders, managers, or influential people within the community or work place. Strong leadership influences the behaviours of the members by the "style" of leadership. This is most noticable in the workplace where the manager has a medical background as apposed to a public service background. While the values of the organisation are supported by both styles, the way in which they are carried out may be quite different. We also see the same thing in politics, where each party upholds the Australian constitution, they all have different policies, objectives and agendas. Weak leadership also means that the community can become unfocused on the goals of the community. Different power groups struggle for control, or the community tries to do to much, or not enough (uncoordinated).

The above examples show that SRV is like anything else that we use, it can be used for good or bad. Whatever the intentions are of the user it is important to understand it's limitations. Hopefully, common sense would prevail in a situation where there is a conflict between SRV and what seems the best for the person. Communities are not perfect places either. There will always be some sort of restriction on what we can and can't do within a community, and there will always be a conflict between possible choices and outcomes (what I would do and what someone else would do in the same situation). The most important thing is to learn from our experience and maybe have a better understanding of why we act in a given way in a given situatuation.

Think of your roles (1) within society, (2) within your community (Where you work etc)
what are the similarities and differences in these roles ?
what are your relationships with others in these groups ?
what are the roles of others in these groups ?
how do you value others within each group ?
how do others value you within each group ?
what are your expectations of others in each group ?
what are others expectations of you in each group ?
what are the institutions that may be a part of the activity or setting ?

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