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

The role of social care in the community

Social care (otherwise known as institutional care) plays an important role in the community. Where a community does not have the skills ad resources to look after the needs of it's members various services and organisations provide the care.

Social care, as opposed to community care, is structured around ...
... a social need (as opposed to a personal need)
... a set of policies, charter, Strategic Plan, or agenda that determines service delivery (roles/goals).
... a set of behaviours and expectations that determine how the service works (institutions).

Social care is about a service that conforms to a governing body that sets the rules. This happens in all parts of society, Social order and stability allow society to function in a way that benifits the members. Within socity we see all sorts of social care. Universities, hospitals, day care centers, nursing homes and even sporting organisations and religious institutions fulfill important roles in providing skills and resources that are not available in the wider community. Social justice, social security and welfare and social services (water, electricty. gas, telephone) are all forms of social care that we all take for granted. These services are provided to allow us to participate in our normal day to day activities. New technology has changed our world for ever and each new generation grows up in a different world. Services are evolving through each new innovation. New ways are found to provide these services. Old services become worn out and antiquated. Government policy and practice is also redifing it's own roles in providing services. What was relivent 10 years ago is no longer relivent today. New political parties try to persuade us that they have all the answers.

Social care: An asset or a liability?

But how many people do not have these conveniences that we depend on.
Unfortunately, through this process, all members are not benefited. Social care provides specialised support around a spicific issue or charasteristic within society.
Social care is about supporting people that ...
... conform to a criteria, standard or definition that allows entry. Government policy and process usually set the agenda of the service through laws, funding etc.
... can not be supported within their own 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

If 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. How many of us rely on our telephone or computer these days? New generations grow up in a world where these are taken for granted. They could not imagine a world with out them, There are children that think that milk comes from a bottle these days and have probally never seen a cow. We are becomming more dependent on social care to provide for our needs and are loosing those important skills in looking after our own needs. Why bother to do it ourselves when we can get it somewhere else.

(Leutz (1999: 83-87), from Michael Fine1, Kuru Pancharatnam and Cathy Thomson, Social Policy Research Centre,
Coordinated and Integrated Human Service Delivery Models, Final Report, March 2000,

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