Do Person-Centred Care Services Enable Service Users to Lead ‘Normal Lives’

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TMA 02 – Question: Do person-centred care services enable service users to lead ‘normal lives’? This essay will establish whether person-centred care services enable service users to lead ‘normal lives’. The author will examine identity and the concept of ‘normalization’ by exploring Goffman’s work on ‘stigma’ and stereotyping (K217, Chapter 5, p.6) . In addition, the concept of normalization will be challenged by the social model of disability, and finally person-centred care will be analyzed and how this can impact the way disabled people receive health and social care services, and create opportunities to lead a ‘normal life’. Furthermore, the author will examine how personalisation and person-centred care policies can affect service users in both a positive and negative way, by using the case studies of Mitchell (K217, Learning Guide 7.1, p.14) who suffers from cerebral palsy, and Jane (K217, Audio, Learning Guide 7.1, Task B) who has a severe learning disability and moves from institutional care to person-centred care. The author will argue that the person-centred approach to care, despite the implications for some service users and providers, is the way forward in health and social care for the majority of service users, and is paramount in enabling service users to lead ‘normal lives’.

A person’s identity is extremely important in health and social care because identity is related to how people perceive themselves and how other people perceive them. Identity is relevant to both service providers and users, since the relationships between them are formed by the way they identify with each other. Individuals have many different and multi-faceted identities, and social factors contribute significantly to the development, acceptance or rejection of these identities. Moreover, some service users can be stereotyped as abnormal or different. This can be seen through the work of American Sociologist, Erving Goffman whose …… work on stigma, which he referred to as ‘spoiled identity’ (Goffman, 1968), explored how the stereotyping of certain identities can lead to some people being considered somewhat less than fully human (K217, Chapter 5, p.6). Goffman suggested that the social construction of identities is essential for successful interactions and claimed that upon meeting someone you can usually work out how to relate to them without discovering anything about them. For those who have difficulty recognizing these familiar patterns of interactions, such as those with autistic spectrum disorders, they can find it difficult in engaging with others.

Such shared and generalized social identities can lead others to stereotype and assume negative labels. Goffman’s work on stigma led to his categorization of three types of stigmatized identity, physical deformities, mental disorders and ethnic and cultural differences. Such grouping of identities may have direct relevance to the experiences of users of health and social care services and their ability to lead a ‘normal life’.

So what is considered a ‘normal life’? Normalization involves the acceptance of people from all walks of life regardless of age, race, disability etc., and offering them the same conditions that are offered to other service users with regard to housing, schooling, employment, exercise, recreation and freedom of choice. Even though people who have disabilities are different, we are all different ages, races, types of disabilities etc., and our differences are something that characterizes the population of people who use health and social care services. In order to determine which health and social care services are relevant to a particular service user, they are given labels i.e. disabled, old, etc. Joe Bloggs suggests that sometimes labeling can offer an opportunity to develop new and positive identities. This is as long as the stigma that labeling brings is managed sensitively by the health care professional. If not, it will create...
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