Safeguarding Adults: Enabling Adults in Vulnerable Circumstances.

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Are safeguarding procedures effective in supporting people with learning disabilities who are involuntary users of services?

Safeguarding is a key role for social workers working with people with learning disabilities. This assignment will consider models of human development and critically analyse factors that impact upon the vulnerability of adults. It will further explore how adults with learning disabilities are oppressed and discriminated against at various levels. Using a practical example I demonstrate how I use theory to critically reflect on the consequences and dilemmas for practice with vulnerable adults and investigate issues that may affect safeguarding in the present day.

Theorists have long sought to define human development and consider the effects that it can have on our lives. Our knowledge of how we develop as we do draws broadly speaking, on three disciplines: Biology, sociology and psychology (Wilson etal 2008). Erikson (1950) developed a model of Human Development titled the "Eight Stages of Man". This Psychosocial approach saw individual identity being developed as they move through points in their lives as they age (Crawford and Walker 2003). Critics of the model argue that it does not take into account issues of stigma, oppression and discrimination, however, they do describe in general the kinds of concerns that human beings encounter at different stages of their lives (Trevithick 2005). Bronfenbrenner (1979) takes an Ecological approach to human development and considers that "human development takes place through processes of progressively more complex reciprocal interaction between an active, evolving bio psychological human organism and the persons, objects, and symbols in its immediate environment".

The notion that human development can be affected on a number of levels has been adopted in numerous theories, and moves on from the work of Maslow, Freud, and Erikson to consider external factors that can influence a person's development. Bronfenbrenner's model of development is useful in breaking down the many factors that influence development. He identified The Microsystem as being central to the person's biological make up and including its immediate environments, family, schools and peer groups. An Exosystem, which provides a social and economic context, considering the impact local community and current policy can have on an individual. A Macrosystem that provides a cultural context of wider society and economic factors.

The Social Work profession places great emphasis on consideration of all factors that influence people's lives, to understand a person's situation and Anti- discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice remains' integral to social work Training. (Preston-Shoot 1995)

Dominelli 2002 defines anti-oppressive practice as:

A form of social work practice which addresses social divisions and structural inequalities in the work that is done with service users' or workers. Anti oppressive practice aims to provide more appropriate and sensitive services by responding to people's needs regardless of their social situations.

In order to work in an anti-oppressive way it is essential to recognise the multiple layers of oppression that affect service user groups at Macro, Micro and Exeo levels. Thompson (2006) simplifies the Macro, Micro and Exso factors in his PCS model, analysing how oppression can impact upon human development and influence the lives of service users. The model identifies three levels Personal/ Psychological, Cultural and Structural and further explains how they closely relate to each other. High profile cases such as the murder of Stephen Lawrence illustrate how oppression is present at differing levels, and how these levels interlink. As a young black man Stephen was subject to prejudice at a micro level, by those who killed him. That prejudice most likely was formed on racial stereotypes held by his killers. Thomson (2003) argues that we...
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