Social model of disability

The origins of the social model of disability can be found within the wider human rights movement, and the specific term was coined by Michael Oliver disabled academic, in the 1980’s.  The model differentiates between ‘impairment’ – physical, psychological, or intellectual differences – and ‘disability’ which refers to the barriers and prejudice that society create. There fore the impairment is owned by the individual, but the disability is owned by the whole of society.

To illustrate this, a man with an impairment living in a flat which is adapted to his needs is not disabled whilst he is in his flat as he is able to do everything that he wants and needs to. It is only when he goes out, and faces the attitudes and practicalities of a world not designed to meet his needs that he is disabled.

Therefore, as a care management workforce, if we can adopt a social model approach we can share the responsibility for creating environments that do not disable people. We can do this on an individual level by working with people to create assessments and support plans that meet their needs. It is also incumbent on us to promote the social model in the wider world, working with communities and organisations to increase their accessibility and improve their understanding and attitudes.

“A fundamental aspect of the social model concerns equality. The struggle for equality is often compared to the struggles of other socially marginalized groups. Equal rights are said to give empowerment and the ‘ability’ to make decisions and the opportunity to live life to the fullest. A related phrase often used by disability rights campaigners, as with other social activism, is “Nothing About Us Without Us “ (Wikepedia)