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The Difference Between the Medical and Social Models of Disability

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1.Know the difference between the Medical and Social models of disability.

1.1 Describe the Medical Model of disability.

The Medical Model sees disabled people as the problem. They need to be adapted to fit into the world as it is. This approach is based on a belief that the difficulties associated with the disability should be borne wholly by the disabled person, and that the disabled person should make extra effort to ensure that they do not inconvenience anyone else. If this is not possible, then they should be put in a specialised institution or stay at home, where only their basic needs are met. The emphasis is on dependence, and what they cannot do rather than what they can. Often, the impairment is focused on, rather than the needs of the person.

The authority to change disabled people and their lives usually lies with the medical and associated professions, who focus on cures and rehabilitation rather than society adapting to the needs of disabled people. The medical approach often yields decisions that affect where disabled people go to school; what support they get; where they live; what benefits they are entitled to; whether they can work; and even, at times, whether they are born at all, or allowed to have children themselves. People with disabilities have generally rejected this model as being out dated. Some feel it has led to their low self-esteem, undeveloped life skills, poor education and high unemployment levels. Some also feel that the Medical Model requires the breaking of natural relationships with their families, communities and society as a whole.

1.2 Describe the Social Model of disability.

The Social Model of disability states that disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people. When barriers are removed, disabled people can be independent in society, with choice and control over their own lives. The Social Model views everyone as equal and focuses on what a disabled person can do rather than what they cannot. It puts the onus on society to adapt its way of thinking and level of accessibility for people with impairments. The model was developed by disabled people because the traditional Medical Model did not explain their personal experience of disability or help to develop more inclusive ways of living. The Social Model is widely accepted as a more effective way of integrating people with disabilities into mainstream society and in turn empowers disabled people to live an inclusive and fulfilling life. The Social Model believes the ‘cure’ to the ‘problem’ of disability lies in changing society.

1.3 Outline how each of the models has developed and evolved over time.

Medical Model:
Traditionally, in many cultures around the world, people with any form of disability were widely seen as possessed by demons, under a spell of witchcraft or cursed, or being punished by God. During the 18th century attitudes took a more scientific approach to understanding the causes of impairment. This in turn built a sense of confidence in medical science’s ability to cure, or at least rehabilitate, disabled people. Some disabled people were deemed incurable and placed in institutions and special schools, put to work in workhouses or just neglected. Today we have day-care centres and people with SEN attend mainstream schools. Medical science has evolved to keep many disabled people alive, and reduce pain and discomfort, however it is now widely agreed that disabled people should not be defined by their impairments.

Social Model:
Until recent years, there was no real social awareness of the issues faced by disabled people. In the 60’s the Disability Movement was formed with the sole aim of securing equal opportunities and equal rights for people with disabilities. The specific goals and demands of the movement are: accessibility and safety in transportation, architecture, and the physical environment; equal opportunities in independent living, employment, education, and housing; and freedom from abuse, neglect, and violations of patients’ rights. Through this movement modern society has made significant changes in the way disability is viewed, how accessible amenities and services are becoming and how much more opportunities for education and employment there are now compared to the past. There is still room for improvement regarding all aspects of mainstream society; however, the Social Model is widely adopted by the disabled community.

1.4 Give examples of where each model of disability may be used in service delivery

Social Model service delivery:
The Social Model is concerned with the person and how the service fits into the person. Services are designed around the person in order to enable the person to fulfil his/her needs in the best possible way. Any restrictions are due to the activity and the setting of the activity rather than the person. Some examples of where the Social Model is used are as follows: Accommodation – Home modifications, Care packages, Support workers Transportation – Public transport

Education – Mainstream Schools, SEN teachers and assistants Recreation – Social clubs, Entertainment complexes, Gyms

Medical Model service delivery:
The Medical Model is concerned with the impairment and how the person fits in with society. Some examples of where the Medical Model is used are as follows: Accommodation – Medical support,
Transportation – Mobility scooters, Wheelchairs
Education – Specialised schools

2.Understand how the adoption of models of disability impact on the well-being and quality of life of individuals

2.1 Identify how the principles of each model are reflected in service delivery The principles of each model are reflected in service delivery by meeting the additional needs of all disabled people. For example, a child who is deaf needs a support worker for the social model and specialised equipment for the medical model A child who is blind needs a support worker for the medical model and specialised equipment for the social model. A child who is wheelchair bound needs a support worker for the medical model and involvement in all activities for the social model.

2.2 Explain how each of the models of disability impact on the:

Medical Model – Impacts on inclusion by needing the right equipment. Social Model – Impacts on inclusion by needing a support worker.

Medical Model – Impacts on rights by not being able to do activities that able people can do. Social Model – Impacts on rights by having the freedom of choice.

Medical Model – Impacts on autonomy by having special materials, help and support and the right medication. Social Model – Impacts on autonomy by allowing the person to decide what is required to suit their needs.

Needs of individuals
Medical Model – Impacts on the needs of individuals by having support and the right medication. Social Model – Impacts on the needs of individuals by having recreational time and having the correct facilities.

2.3 Explain how own practice promotes the principles of inclusion

As a home-based childcare provider I would ensure that my setting is appropriate for all age groups and abilities. I would promote equal opportunities and rights for all and ensure all activities are inclusive and stimulating for all children, with or without disability and no matter their background.

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