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Chosen area of practice:- Adults with Learning Disabilities

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Introduction

Chosen area of practice:- Adults with Learning Disabilities A critical analysis of debates concerning the social construction of Adults with Learning Disabilities A critical awareness of the impact of salient legislation and policy on adults with learning disabilities A critical analysis of the impact of equality and discrimination A critical examination of how service user movements have contributed to recent debates around the development of welfare services in respects of adults with learning disabilities A critical analysis of debates concerning the social construction of Adults with Learning Disabilities. The World Health Organisation defines learning disability as: ...a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind", and somebody with a learning disability is said also to have "significant impairment of intellectual functioning" and "significant impairment of adaptive/social functioning" (World Health Organisation, 2001). Mencap 2002 in their article 'Changing attitudes to people with a learning disability' highlights the difficulties that this can cause, stating: The day-to-day lives of people with learning disabilities and their families are affected by the way they are perceived and treated by the communities in which they live. Historically, public and private attitudes have been of intolerance and lack of understanding. The right to freedom from discrimination for people with disabilities, including those with a learning disability, has been enshrined in the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act, however there is still much to be done to change public attitudes (Mencap, 2005). Has the social construction of people with learning disability advocated the attitudes of intolerance and a lack of understanding? Defining Social Construction one dictionary declared: A social construction, or social construct, according to the school of social constructionism, is an idea which may appear to be natural and obvious to those who accept it, but in reality is an invention or artifact of a particular culture or society. The implication is that social constructs are human choices rather than laws of God or nature. ...read more.

Middle

Primarily we all aspire to live independently. But working with diversity does not mean treating everyone the same. The Department of Health made an interesting statement, confirming this claim, when discussing the education of disabled children saying: Ensuring equality of opportunity does not mean treating everyone the same. It does mean understanding and working knowledgably with diversity (DfES/DOH/Home Office 2000 para 1:43) Handouts 'Working with Disabled Children' Dawn Judd 23/10/05 Did the Griffin Report, 1988 Community Care: An agenda for action, encourage working with diversity in an understandable and knowledgeable manner? This reflected governmental commitment to increase choice -increasing roles for the private and voluntary sectors in residential and domiciliary services, but Social Service authorities would take the lead role in purchasing and organising care. The NHS and Community Care Act 1990 encouraged a needs-led approach to assessment. Requiring that the Social Worker or assessor to look at what services may have to be purchased or provided to enable that individual to live more independently. Sapey (1993), made this argument: That the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 is simply the continuation of an ideological tradition within social policy that started with the Poor law of 1601 in that it maintains that it is local authorities, rather than disabled people, who know best what is needed by the latter. (Cited in Oliver and Sapey,1999, pg 68) The 'voice' of the person with a learning disability failing to be heard; the ideology of the Mental Deficiency Act 1913 stated that 'feeble-minded people were neither idiots nor imbeciles, but if adults, their condition was so pronounced that they require care, supervision, and control for their own protection or the protection of others" . We once again see the entrenched attitudes of we 'know best'! This is reinforced by Morris, (1993) who argued that: the aim of independent living is held back by an ideology at the heart of community care policies , which does not recognise the civil rights of disabled people but instead considers them to be dependant people in need of care. ...read more.

Conclusion

Bill Robins (2005), ADSS Lead on Learning Disabilities made this statement: The learning disability development fund has been very important as a way to build local capacity for modernisation and people-centred approaches. However, it represents less than 1% of the combined local authorities and NHS spend and should not be the main basis of support for improvement. Changes in the ways funding is spent are likely to be achieved only if there is some form of more creative and substantial 'transformation fund' which enables local authorities to invest in alternative services and make efficiency improvements. Pg7 Is this happening? Maria Ahmed (2005) informs us that Learning difficulties services could cost local authorities an extra �800m a year within the next five years if the government does not increase funding.....better services for people with learning difficulties will be "severely threatened" unless funds are found. Pg8 So can it be said that the government really value people with learning difficulties? Hazel Morgan (2005), Foundation of People with Learning Disabilities, responding to the 'Valuing People' paper made this statement: The Foundation believes that people with learning disabilities are still excluded and discriminated against by society and many services. There needs to be more emphasis on ways in which people can be included in all aspects of life within their locality rather than on segregated services. People with disabilities can make a fundamental contribution to their communities in partnership with their friends and families. The Foundation welcomes the ways in which the Green Paper should contribute to the greater inclusion of people with learning disabilities, but believes that it does not focus sufficiently on the needs of people with severe learning disabilities...pg13 Recognizing this Social Work should use resources optimistically, creatively and purposefully to provide best practice for people with leaning difficulties, recognizing (as did I after a discussion with a person with learning difficulties within the university) that a person may enjoy living within the current system, regardless of what we may perceive about the real value and impact of salient legislation and policy on adults with learning difficulties. ...read more.

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