Understanding Specific Needs- Health and Social Care Related

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Understanding Specific Needs- Assignment 1

This assignment on understanding specific needs will look into the perceptions that people have of health, disability, illness and behaviour in a health and social care context. It will also look into and explain how attitudes towards individuals with specific needs and perceptions of those needs change over time and differ between cultures. I will then analyse how legislation, society, culture and social policy interact to influence attitudes toward and service development for individuals with specific needs.

The World Health Organisation (WHO, 1946) describes health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. Concepts related to health and social care that have been adapted to define health and disease in individuals include disability, illness, impairment, sickness and behaviour to name a few. These concepts may be misused by individuals who don’t actually understand the term. In order to be a competent and professional health and social care practitioner it is extremely important to understand the correct definition and have the correct perceptions of health, disability and wellbeing, if not, we may end up offending individuals in our care without meaning too. It is hard to find a correct definition for ‘impairment’ and ‘disability’ but WHO describes impairment as ‘any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological, or anatomical structure or function’- an example of this would include someone who has suffered from a stroke and as a result loses function of one side of their body. They then go on to describe disability as ‘any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the matter or within the range considered normal for a human being’ followed by an example of ‘limited functioning of leg leads to inability to walk’. When it comes to illness, disease and sickness it is sometimes hard to differentiate between the three. Although they are quite closely related to one another they do each mean different things. Jones, 1994 described disease as a specific condition of ill health in a patient. Illness is about how you feel- it is related to disease in that you may have a particular disease but still feel well. Some people believe that if a person is ill they have a disease but this however is not always the case- a disease is a physical change or abnormality in the human body. A relevant example to highlight the difference between a disease and illness would be HIV and some forms of cancer- sufferers can live everyday relatively normal without feeling ill or sick while taking the correct medication.

Most diseases will affect our behaviour if diagnosed- most obvious behaviour change could be feeling down in the dumps/ sad about the impact the disease may have on your own day to day life. However, it doesn’t have to be a problem- some people may be diagnosed with a disease, be optimistic and look at the ‘problems’ it poses but then be motivated to change those problems. Disease is the most likely out of the terms that would be most commonly used in health and social care as it is noticeable and certain whereas illness and sickness are feelings.

“A person has a disability if he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

- (Disability Discrimination Act 1995)

I previously touched briefly on disability and WHO’s definition, however I have become more and more aware of disability and those who suffer from a disability within my own placement work in the college helping out and assisting the students who have learning disabilities, therefore I can relate more to it. I agree with the above definition as the students in my placement, although a lot older than me; can’t complete the tasks that I take for granted everyday as well as us who don’t have a...
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