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Issues relating to adults with a physical disability. This assignment aims to explore physical disability, specifically focusing on issues relating to adults with spinal cord injury.

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Introduction This assignment aims to explore physical disability, specifically focusing on issues relating to adults with spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injury is any injury to the vertebrae causing damage to the nerve tracts resulting in variable degrees of paralysis. It is more prevalent amongst males aged between 15 and 30 years and is a major cause of serious disability (Royle and Walsh, 1992). I will divide the assignment into the following sections; - medical and social model approaches - core professional skills - empowerment and advocacy It is important to define impairment and disability from a social model perspective because this will be the meaning I will adopt for this assignment. According to the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) (1976); impairment means to lack all or a part of a limb or having a defective organ, limb or mechanism of the body. Disability is defined as the restriction of activity or disadvantage caused by physical and social barriers resulting in societal discrimination and oppression. In 2003, 6.9 million or nearly one in five people in the UK were registered disabled (Shaw, 2006). Worryingly, Nelson and Shardlow (2005) reported that disabled people are more likely to experience abuse then the rest of the population. ...read more.


With this in mind when one is communicating with service users it must not be obvious to them that there is a time limit as this will contribute to people feeling like they are not being listened to or not being given the opportunity to speak because they feel under pressure. It is essential that one is effective with time management in order to prevent shorter visits with service users or carers (Thompson, 2005). Repeating what service users have said demonstrates listening skills. Inskipp (1996) agrees that active listening involves paraphrasing, reflecting feelings and summarising. Asking questions is a way to extract information from service users. The types of questions are significant in various settings. Hogston and Simpson, 2004 claim that, closed questions are appropriate if someone is in pain or depressed, answering a simple yes or no is much easier for them. Alternatively, open questions allow the service user to expand on the question posed. Giving explanations is important when communicating with service users because it is essential they understand what is being discussed; this may require repeating what was said or clarifying a point. Empathy is another crucial skill when working with people with spinal cord injury as Hockenberry (1996) ...read more.


I have discovered that the definition of disability will remain an ambiguous term due to the medical and social definitions conflicting and society only being familiar with the traditional meaning. The core professional skills mentioned are not extensive but are invaluable for a social worker to be supportive, proactive and positive. In order to be an effective communicator one must be sensitive to the service users needs. It is essential that the types of questions and language used are appropriate because someone with spinal cord injury will undergo many psychological changes. Being empathic, an effective listener and employing partnership skills are all fundamental interpersonal skills which are crucial to social work. Empowerment, advocacy and the importance of service users meeting their potential so they can live as independently is highlighted. This is made possible with the introduction of initiatives such as normalisation, personalisation, self-directed support and individual budgets. Finally, Oliver and Sapey (2006) make a sensible suggestion to improve the negative societal view of those with impairments and are viewed as being dependent. They proposed to incorporate disability training and studies into social work education. This certainly appears to be a valid suggestion and one which could be achievable in order to change the views of today's society and of the next generation. ...read more.

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An interesting piece of work looking at working with those who have a spinal cord injury and how the medical and social models of disability impact upon this. A good clear definition of the medical model was given but the definition of the social model was less clear. There was some good work regarding communication skills, but this was not linked to the service user group –ie. those with physical disabilities. The main area for improvement with this work is for it to be more linked to the chosen service user group. Some part of the last few pages were generalised and could have been about any service user group. The writing style is very good, but try to use more recent references/books where possible.

Marked by teacher Diane Apeah-Kubi 18/04/2013

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