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About this book

Extensively revised and updated, the third edition of this classic text examines the ways in which disabled people have been able to develop and manage their own services. It reconstructs social work practice in light of these and the latest policy changes, stressing the importance of thinking critically about the welfare response to disability.

Table of Contents

Introduction: setting the scene

Abstract
Historically, British social work could be said to have started with the formation of the Charity Organisation Society in the 1860s. In the late nineteenth century the first hospital almoner was appointed, and it is from that role that social work with disabled people emerged. By the time of the Second World War, social work had become a reserved occupation, but despite its development towards being a profession — the gaining of university status for its training, its proactive stance in terms of child care and health care, and the influence of psychoanalysis on its practice — social work remained essentially concerned with administering welfare on utilitarian principles. The state was concerned to ensure that welfare be distributed on the basis that it would act as a remedy to dependency rather than as a sedative. Theoretically, the role of the social worker was to assess the behaviour and motivations of individuals in need, in order to determine how best to help them become self-reliant. In practice, welfare agencies tended to retain control over the design and management of services, as self-reliance and long-term need were seen as being incompatible.
Michael Oliver, Bob Sapey

1. Social work and disability: old and new directions

Abstract
Prior to 1970, help for disabled people and their families was really only available through the health service (medical social workers) or voluntary organizations such as the Invalid Children’s Aid Association and the Spastics Society. A few local authority health departments set up professional social work services in the 1950s, staffed mainly by medical social workers, and in some cases by occupational therapists as well. Welfare departments in the pre-Seebohm Report days also offered services to disabled people, but as most did not employ trained social workers, little was done beyond material help and information-giving, while some provision was made for residential care. The Seebohm Report, local government reorganisation and the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, 1970 was supposed to change all that and usher in a new era. This led to services for disabled people being established as a social services responsibility, but as with many local authority provisions it varied from one part of the country to another.
Michael Oliver, Bob Sapey

2. Thinking about disability

Abstract
A major theme of this book is that social work, as an organised professional activity, has given little thought to the problems of disability, and where it has, it has merely reproduced traditional thinking in its application to social work practice. A second theme of the book is that much of this traditional thinking about disability is inaccurate and incorrect, at least in that it is incongruent with the personal experiences of many disabled people. A third theme will be to develop more appropriate thinking about disability, and to draw out some of its implications for the practice of social work.
Michael Oliver, Bob Sapey

3. The causes of impairment and the creation of disability

Abstract
The distinction between the individual and social dimensions of disability already referred to are also important in discussing the causes of both impairment (individual limitation) and disability (socially imposed restriction). From a medical point of view, the main causes of impairment can be seen in Table 3.1.
Michael Oliver, Bob Sapey

4. Disability in the family

Abstract
The social model of disability can be a useful and sensitising perspective in considering the implications of disability for family life. There are three ways in which the ‘disability relationship’ discussed in the previous chapter is important here. To begin with, the disablement of an impaired individual may be exacerbated by the way he or she is treated by the family, as, for example, the way that some disabled children are overprotected by their anxious parents. In addition, family structure and stability may be affected adversely by one of its members becoming disabled, though it is important to note that such an occurrence may strengthen rather than weaken familial ties in some situations. Finally, there is the question of the way society treats families, through social policy provision, where there is a disabled member.
Michael Oliver, Bob Sapey

5. Living with disabilities

Abstract
From the discussion in Chapter 4, it is apparent that one of the main difficulties that disabled people face at all ages is how to maintain relationships with their families while also achieving a level of independence and autonomy. Leat (1988) suggests that the pressure of dependency within families is the most significant cause of disabled people having to enter residential care. Hence in discussing the living options of disabled people, it is necessary to consider the impact of poor community services on these relationships. This impact may also account for the fact that disabled adults are far more likely than non-disabled people to be living alone. In 1986, 30 per cent of disabled adults were living alone (Martin et al., 1989) which compares with just 12.5 per cent of the whole population at the time of the 2001 census. As would be expected, the proportion rises with age, but even if only those under 65 years are considered, some 16 per cent of disabled adults were living alone. This has significant implications for the provision of both housing and the personal assistance that would enable these individuals to live independently, but also for the provision of support to those who live within families.
Michael Oliver, Bob Sapey

6. The legal and social context of disability

Abstract
Living within a family or in residential accommodation can be disabling for impaired people. In the wider context, all impaired people are disabled to a greater or lesser degree by the society in which they live. The social model of disability suggests that people with impairments in Britain may face educational disability, employment disability and economic disability, and it is perhaps somewhat ironic that some of the legal measures taken to combat such disadvantages actually in fact contribute further to the disabling process. This chapter will focus on some aspects of this relationship between disabled people and society, and consider some of the possible intervention strategies for social workers. To begin, the discussion needs to be placed in the context of legislation relating to disability.
Michael Oliver, Bob Sapey

7. Conclusions and implications for practice

Abstract
This final chapter will attempt to bring together some of the issues raised by applying the social model of disability to social work as an organised professional activity. We start with some theoretical and professional issues, then move on to look at organisational aspects before ending with a range of strategies for the future.
Michael Oliver, Bob Sapey
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