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Changing Attitude Toward the Disabled in Britain

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The aim of this assignment is to present the evolution of policies and legislations for disabled people in Britain.

Key concepts such as eugenics and normalisation will be studied, so that the reader may recognise how previous institutional structures such as ‘community care’ have disempowered a group of societies individuals. Soon after, it will analyse two specific legislations in the field of disability and what influence they have had on social work practice.Finally, the essay will conclude by evaluating current policy models and provide possible alternatives for future legislations.

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Disability, Eugenics, Normalisation & Social Policy: C.

1714-1995 Until relatively recent, people with disabilities were often institutionalised in long-stay hospitals, or ‘loony bins’ Atkinson, 1997 pg 4. Denney 1998 considers the recent inclusion of those with disabilities as a ‘major development. ‘ However, such progress in Thomsons view cannot be understood without glancing at the Victorian, pre/post war and recent years.Predominating theories/concepts of those periods such as eugenics, normalisation and policy models also hold equal relevance to previous legislations, if not more in the times gone by of those suffering from any form of disabilities 1998 pg 1.

Denney 1998 pg 162 pg illustrates how scientific, medical, political and even religious orthodoxies strongly influenced societal view and played a crucial role in providing legitimate accounts of institutionalisation.The priest asserted that, “only the devil within us prevents each and everyone from immediately acquiring a perfect body” owen, cited in Drake, 1999 pg 11. The first specific legislation permitting the institutionalisation of those with disabilities was enacted in 1714 and 1744. According to Busfield, this Act was amended by the 1890 Madhouse Act, which was very medically orientated and had a therapeutic approach.

The 1890 Act introduced the necessity to issue a medical certificate before ‘dumping any one in the loony bin’ 1986 cited in Denney pg 163.At the turn of the century the 1913, Mental Deficient Act was introduced. It gave local authorities the right to detain such ‘deficients ‘ in institutions to grade them as ‘idiots,’ and treat them like ‘animals. ‘ Wolfensberger cited in Moore 1993 pg 303.

William 1996 believes that the act used institutionalisation as a strategy to segregate societies so called ‘imbeciles’ or ‘feeble-minded,’ rather than protect the vulnerable Denney, 1998. The growing interest in Sir Francis Golton’s eugenics movement also justified such exclusion Gregory, 1987 pg 282/3.Means and Smith 1994 pg 29 emphasise that “mental defects were seen as genetically inherited, hence the segregation of mental defectives from the rest of society was essential. ” There is a general consensus, that these institutional deprivations in the 1930’s alongside the atrocities committed by Hitler’s regime created a remarkable shift in thinking Brown 1992 pg 47.

The time was ripe to introduce the Denmark Ian concept of normalisation or social role valorisation as Wolfensberger called it.There was also need for a new ideological framework, a relevant and ideal concept in the field of disabilities policies Barnes, 1999. New Government policies, emergences of advocacy, and more recently self-advocacy, changes in the medical doctrines and social views all led to the closer of many long-stay institutes Atkinson, 1997 pg 3. Thus, 1948-63 marked what Oliver 1998 describes as the ‘promotional welfare State,’ which established services for disable people.

This was soon followed by the establishment of the National Health Service N.H. S in 1948, which integrated institutes into an integral organised health service that had remained distinct from mainstream medicine. By the 1970s, Britain in common with most western societies witnessed the gradual and sustained growth of a multi-billion pound ‘disability industry’ Denney, 98 pg 84-6.

During the 1980s, when the NHS was suffering from a severe lack of resources, Norman Fowler, then Secretary of State for social services promulgated an ideological stance.In December 86 he asked Sir Roy Griffiths, who had previously been instrumental in reviewing managements in the NHS, to conduct a review of Community Care policy Bornat, 1993 Initially the Griffiths report was not well received by central government because of the greater discretion it appeared to give to local governments Thompson, 2000 pg 32. Griffiths recommended that local authorities should move away from their roles as significant providers of care and instead take on the jobs of arranging and purchasing care services from providing agencies Lavalette, pg 238.Nonetheless, all the main Griffiths proposals were accepted, with the exception of a few Priestly 1999.

Enthoven, an influential economist also argued that one of the main problems with the NHS lay in the lack of incentives for employers, to make savings and be more efficient. As an alternative, he suggested the introduction of an internal market Moore, 1993 pg107. This meant that each hospital or Community Care unit would compete against others to win contracts to supply services that had previously fallen within the mainstream of state responsibility: The basis for the NHS ; CC Act Malin, 1995 pg 46-79.Finally all the proposals were enshrined in the white paper “caring for people”, which appeared in 1989, and on the 29th of June 1990 under a Conservative government the Act received Royal Assent, and was due to be implemented in full on 1 April 1991 Encarta.

A critical overview of the NHS ; CC Act The NHS ; CC Act provides the first embodiment of a structural concept of community care in legislation Davies, 1993. It applies to the provision of services to older people, to people with physical, mental and mental disabilities Cull ; Roche. 2001.Sheppard cited in McDonald, 1999 pg 42 regards as “the greatest challenge to Social work for at least 20 years.

” The Act reiterated the view that providing the right level of intervention and support to enable people to achieve maximum independence and control over their lives is at the heart of community care Davies, 1993 pg 23. However, the important point to note is that the Act imposes no new substantive duties upon local authorities to provide services that they were not already providing under existing legislation Orme, 2001 pg 53.Hence, fullan ? sees it as a watershed in the reorganisation of the delivery of services within local government. Any expectations that it would of itself give an entitlement to a complete new range of services has proved to be illusory.

Furthermore, it does not offer a comprehensive legislative framework for the practice of social work in adult care. Moreover, important pieces of legislation on disability and mental health are to be found outside the framework of the Act McDonald, 1999 pg 15.Thus the complexity of the current law and, the failure in 1990 to review and modernise the relevant legislation, is highly criticised by Clement 1996. The position is further complicated by the use of local authority eligibility criteria; these seek to limit access to services to people at a certain level of need Baldwin, 1998 pg 89/99.

From theory to Social work practice What is evident is the change the NHS ; CC Act has caused to social workers employed in the community care area.The National Institute for Social Work NISW, 1995 survey found that the reform of the NHS ; CC Act was accompanied by a step rise in demand for services. This left 79% of the social workers with an increase in their workloads and at the same time rationing as their resources were being used up. The survey also found that because of budget constraint workers found themselves choosing between two clients they believed were equally deserving of a service.

As a result, professional social worker staff felt a decline in morale and job satisfaction in the field of community care Hadley, 1996 pg 179.Some social workers feel frustrated that they have little power to do the job adequately, seeing standards of service decline, yet not knowing where they and their organisations are heading interview. One big impact of the purchaser/provider split and the competition between agencies for contracts, as Enthovan suggested is that their remains no collaboration within and between organisations. Therefore, organisations are encouraged to be partial and to favour the interests of their own part against those of others Adams, 1998 pg 54.

For social workers, the major impact of the 1990 Act is to place assessment for community care Services on a statutory basis, so that what social workers may legitimately claim to be doing when they are carrying out an assessment is now statutory work; which demands the highest priority and the greatest degree of expertise. A majority of social workers feel that the NHS ; CC Act caused them a degree of confusion or coherence. This according to Hadley 1996 is due to the contradictions of the Community Care policy along with the difficulties in following the logical steps for their implementation.Lewis 1995 pg 73-94 describes the government objectives for the Act as ‘unrealistic,’ given the huge range of tasks that Social workers are being asked to think about such as assessment, purchaser/provider splits, construction of Community care plans etc.

From exclusion to inclusion Although the NHS ; CC Act made an immense change to the previous welfare, Lewis and Gennerster 1996 see it as almost wholly motivated by financial considerations that has done little to remove the segregation and neglect faced by disabled people, especially in area of employment.Some strong and specific legislation was required that could not only provide civil rights for disabled people, but remove existing barriers, therefore the next few paragraphs intend to explore a more specific legislation for disabled people that combats discrimination, especially in employment: The Disability Discrimination Act DDA The first steps to getting anti-discrimination legislation on to the parliamentary agenda was taken in July 1992 by Jack Ashley, a deaf Labour M. P representing the Committee on Restrictions against Disabled People CORAD Barnes, 1999 pg 162.He introduced the Civil Rights disabled persons bill, which was re-introduced by Roger Berry in 1993.

During 1994, 330 MPs supported the bill. By the mid 1990s, the major political parties in Parliament acknowledged the force of the campaign and only after 14 subsequent attempts and 13 years later; the DDA received Royal Assent on 8th November 1995 under the Conservative government Oliver ; Barnes 1998, pg 143. Summary of the DDA The Act covers discrimination in employment, education, facilities, services, transport and trade organisations Doyle, 1996 pg 7.The employment provisions of the Act, which the next few paragraphs will discuss, were implemented on 2nd December 1996.

Part 1 of the Act ss1-3 and schedule 1-2, defines all those people as disable that are “unable to carry out there day to day activities due to some physical or mental impairments which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect” DFEE DL 160 pg 3. The act makes it illegal for employers who employ 15 or more to discriminate on the grounds of disability in the area of recruitment, selection, training, promotion, making reasonable adjustments and dismissal.Statutory office-holders, such as police officers, prison officers; fire fighters etc are however excluded from the employment provisions of the Act Cull, 2000 pg 139. How effective is the DDA? Although the Disability Discrimination Act is a significant milestone, it is not the fully comprehensive Civil Right Legislation, disabled people campaigned for; Mr William Hague the ex-Minister for Social Security and disabled people claimed it is the “only comprehensive bill for disabled people ever introduced by A British Government” Barnes, C 1991.

Conversely, as a piece of Civil Rights legislation, the D.D. A has been widely criticised by disability activists Priestley, 1999 pg 206. Gooding summarises the DDA as a “confusing, contorted and unsatisfactory piece of legislation.

” Lord Lestor, the prominent civil liberties lawyer, described it as being “riddled with vague, slippery and elusive exceptions” Hansard cited in Oliver, 1999 pg 154/5. The B. B. C program From the Edge, broadcasted on the 14th April 1998 demonstrated its lack of teeth.

It revealed that a mere 10 out of 850 disabled applicants were successful in industrial tribunal cases brought under the act Drake, 1999 pg 63.According to Priestley, 1999 pg 207 one of the major flaws in the Act was it did not provide any effective enforcement mechanism for disability rights, this undermines any claim to be a sincere attempt at ending a social evil. Moreover, the provisions of the employment act were not universal and organisations employing fewer than 15 employees are exempt Coulshed, 2001 pg 222 i. e.

96% of all employers in the U. K Priestley, 1999 pg 207. The figure was originally 20, but this was following a review, reduced to 15 Cooper, 200l pg 143.Most importantly, the Act did not apply to employers who could prove that compliance would damage their business Barnes, 1999 pg 163.

Dobson cited in Drake pg has gone, as far as to say, some may be “worse off” than the advent of the DDA. This is because the repealed quota system set up under the 1994 Disabled Persons employment Act placed a legal duty on employers to ensure disabled people are represented in the workforce, whereas the DDA holds no legal duty on employers to ensure that disabled people are represented at work. Impact of the DDAIt is the job of the social worker to prepare the ground for an individual returning to his/her own home or employment by providing advice and support for those involved. He/She has to help clients adjust to new settings following any move, paying special attention to the importance of overcoming difficulties of communication and/or mobility Davies, 1994 Pg 107.

Social workers performing these functions need to have relevant knowledge of disability needs, facilities, employment services and support employment agencies along with sound legal knowledge of the DDA.They also require skills in advocacy, negotiation and providing a range of new services, challenging discrimination barriers such as recruitment employment and wage differentials, faced by disabled clients who stigmatised by the general public Exploring/the essential S. W. The first approach is to make sure that the client is receiving all the entitled help and in order to do that the social worker needs to resort to additional help.

The first place to start is the DDA handbook. If more advice is needed then the DDA help line DFEE, DLE7 card 9 may be able to help not just with information but also with representation at appeals or tribunals.This will require social workers to keep up to date with tribunal and court rulings that may have relevance for disabled people who have previously took legal action based on discrimination at work. Help clients who feel threatened of loosing their job because a developing disability is making it more difficult for them to carry out the tasks for which they were originally employed.

Alternatively, their disability may be proving an insurmountable barrier to obtaining a job interview, not withstanding their capacity to perform that job.They may be finding it difficult to enjoy the same range of social services/facilities enjoyed as their able-bodied acquaintances, simply because of their physical inaccessibility. They may be afraid to visit certain places because they know they will be treated different because of their disability Cull, 2001 pg. In all these circumstances, a good working knowledge of the broad principles of the DDA is an important aid to a social worker.

Knowing how the DDA can lead to substantial compensation in the employment tribunal.Furthermore, the DDA applies both to the clients of social work and to social workers themselves as employers/ees and social providers. ? From Theory to Practice: DDA ; social work dilemmas While the effectiveness of the Act is questionable, what is certain, as far as social work intervention is concerned, is whether it is just a part of the social work to attempt to alleviate such problems while the formal responsibility may lie with the Disability Employment Advisors DEA from local Placement Assessment ; counselling teams PACTS Oliver, 1999 pg 146Certainly there are major limitations to what can be achieved through/by social workers governed by statutory resourced provisions. Budgets are limited and not necessarily focused for people who are experiencing structural disadvantage or discrimination in employment, moreover resources might be better-utilised elsewhere.

Social work and social problems. Disability, unlike race or sex, can be relevant to job performance and what to some might seem like discrimination may in reality be recruitment based on legitimate preferences and likely performance Drake, 1999 pg 85.A social workers dilemma then would be balancing the client’s right of employment and employers responsibility and right. What makes matters worse is that employers and service providers are exempt from the DDA if they can show that compliance to employ disabled people would damage their business Barnes, 99 pg 163.

Furthermore, lack of essential resources and appropriate change in work places create conditions disabling people from engaging in a normal work life.A crucial problem for social workers is that very often they know that the resources are not available to meet the needs they encounter, yet to acknowledge these needs may well place a legal obligation upon their employer to meet such needs they cannot afford Oliver, 1999 pg 139. What complicates the matter is the advent of machinery designed only to be run by able-people does not just leave disabled people with few ways of earning living but social workers in a no-win situation Drake, 1999 pgLack of financial incentives is another discouraging barrier. An Equal Opportunities Review Survey indicated that the vast majority of employers thought that the implementation of the DDA requirements would prove very expensive cited in Drake 1999 pg 87.

Informal solutions for social workers 1 Social workers may well suggest that their clients take their complaints to the politicians and can assist by drafting letters themselves. 2 Others have contacted organisations like RADAR and if necessary have done so anonymously.However while such tactics may resolve discrepancies between need and provision in individual cases, they do not tackle wider issues concerning conflicts between administrative and professional definition of need, nor do they make the act ultimately more implement able Oliver, 1999 pg 140/1. Conclusion After researching in the field of disability what seems evident is up until this day, a ‘personal tragedy’ or medical model has prevailed that has subjected disable people to policies and practices that have been the cause of segregation.

From this perspective, people are considered disabled by their impairments; consequently, such ‘inabilities’ have resulted in the development of specific responses such as the NHS & CC Act designed to rehabilitate disabled people into a ‘normal life’, and more recently the DDA projected to include disabled people in employment. In sum, it seems that for years disabled people have been breasting waves in a sea of policies as likely to drown as to support them.The question is are certain citizens ‘normal’ and others ‘abnormal’. With the social model of disability, society has and remains to view disable people as the problem.

Although the history for disability policies in the United Kingdom has not been bright, but it seems like the new millennium not only acknowledges the citizenship of disabled people, but also aspects of social living and without doubt the DDA is a promising move towards the Civil Rights legislation and hopefully towards a change in policy model.

Cite this Changing Attitude Toward the Disabled in Britain

Changing Attitude Toward the Disabled in Britain. (2018, Jun 07). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/changing-attitude-toward-the-disabled-in-britain/

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