In this assessment it discusses the definition of empowerment and the importance it has in health and social care and the impact it has when empowering individuals. It explains the different legislation that supports those who should be empowered in health and social care such as the Equality Act 2010, the Children and Families Act 2014, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Care Act 2014; as well as explaining the policies and standards that is outlined. Disabilities is a key issue that is explained within this assessment and the impact it has on an individual, this is important when looking at children with disabilities and how children and young people can be empowered by opening specialist school and units if a child’s needs cannot be met within a mainstream school. This discusses the different key issues and the relevance it has when looking at empowerment. This assessment describes the different ways children with disabilities are empowered and disempowered when being diagnosed with a learning disability. I also reflected on my experience from my work placement and the use of empowerment of children with learning disabilities within the setting; as well as the policies and standards that are set out when working with children.
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Empowerment is an important factor in health and social care as it can be related to many different cases when empowering an individual and there are many different ways that can be used to empower individuals. Empowerment is becoming more recognised when looking at different individuals and the situations surrounding. It is important to empower individuals within health and social care such as those that are under the Equality Act 2010. By empowering those under the protected characteristics allows individuals to feel empowered by others around them; this helps when looking at the different characteristics that are now empowered by the Equality Act such as ‘age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion, and sexual orientation’. (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2019) Empowerment can have a massive impact on an individual’s lifestyle in a positive way, which means it’s necessary for others to use ways of empowering individuals to help respect the choices and lifestyle that an individual may have. Those under the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010 should be empowered by the government after creating this legislation; which means workplaces and other employees to empower an individual by giving the same opportunities to those under the Equality Act.
Disabilities is a key issue in empowerment as having a disability it can lead to individuals feeling different to others. Although disabilities is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, it can still become an issue in an individual’s life as it can have a big impact on the independence of an individual with a disability; for example, this could have a negative impact on the individual in a workplace as it could lead to discrimination towards the rights of the individual. The policies and standards of the Equality Act allows children and adults with disabilities to be treated fairly by making it more difficult for disabled people to be unfairly screened out. Empowerment is put in place and used to help create a positive impact on the individual’s lifestyle; for example, by giving the same opportunities to those with disabilities to those without, within reason. This is important for those supported by the Equality Act as it can give individuals confidence and the independence to making decisions for themselves. Children with disabilities is important when looking at empowerment as it can have an impact on the future of the children that have been diagnosed with a disability whether it is physically or psychological. Children were previously all sent away from home into institutionalised care which disempowers individuals as it means children were away from family and friends which means that a child with disabilities had no family supporting and having an influence in the care provided. Children with disabilities were not empowered in the 1970’s, an academic Wolf Wolfensberger published his thoughts about normalisation in 1972, ‘the residents were ‘dehumanised’ - treated and dealt with as if void of feeling. They were often regarded as primitive, uncontrollable and unable to be educated’. (Debenham, 2017) This shows the disempowerment of children with disabilities being limited to communication with others and the opportunity for aspirations. In an institution for learning disabilities, it would limit the communication of an individual with people, other than other children that are in the same situation.
Although children were disempowered before, children with learning disabilities are now beginning to become empowered; children are being educated in mainstream schools unless the school can provide evidence to support the fact, they cannot meet the children’s medical needs, or the child has a condition where their inclusion would endanger other children. This shows how children with disabilities are becoming empowered by others and the importance of education for young children. By being placed in mainstream schools this shows how children are being encouraged to be self -reliant by sticking to the same rules as other children within the school, participating in the same activities (with adjustments) by trying to meet the needs of the children.
Sometimes, to support those with learning disabilities, there is a specialist unit attached to a school; for example, a speech and language unit, this empowers children as it gives them the opportunity to improve their speech and language effectively by still socialising with children without difficulties. This is empowering to children with disabilities because it allows them to improve their speech and language within a specialist unit which empowers both the parents and children as it helps to meet the needs of the children. Up to the age of 11, it can be easier to place children in mainstream schools even if they have difficulties; this is important as it can be used to empower children in education for the first years of their life. For more profound disabilities, specialist schools are available in different areas. For example, the Warren School in Carlton Colville offers support to communicate effectively, develop different skills and abilities, and to gain confidence. The Warren School offers places for those with disabilities such as autism, social, emotional and mental health, speech, language and communication and visual impairment. It offers specialist help to boys and girls from the age of 3 to 19. This is helpful for both the children and parents; it offers support and guidance to the parents trying to have a positive influence on a child’s life. Child-centred practice is an important approach when focussing on a child’s needs, interests, wishes and feelings, this approach allows professionals to understand an individual and why this is relevant to practice. Child-centred practice emphasises the importance of supporting an individuals involvement in decision-making about their lives.
There are other schools that may offer help and support for different specialist needs; for example, for developmental delay, the Ashley School in my local area offers specialist support and empowering children by teaching and allowing children to communicate and gain confidence for future aspirations. The Ashley School ‘mainly for moderate learning difficulties, however many pupils have associated disabilities such as speech & language, autism and/or behaviour difficulties’. (The Ashley School, 2020) This school is available to boys and girls from year 3 to year 11. This allows children to grow as an individual and grow in the areas that are developmentally delayed. By having specialist schools, it allows children to be educated in the areas that individuals may struggle with which may not have been met in a mainstream environment; this helps to dignify individuals when receiving extra support for their individual needs. A child or young person’s dignity is important to remain and uphold as it can have an impact on an individual’s self-esteem and self-image. This is important for the children’s mental health and wellbeing as it can lead to individuals feeling different to other children which can have an impact on a child.
These schools are used to overcome the stigma and discrimination of children with disabilities, they are put in place to help and support children to become equal to other children in mainstream schools. The Children and Families Act 2014 is an important piece of legislation that supports children with disabilities. ‘A child or young person has special educational needs if he or she has a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her’. (legislation.gov.uk, 2014) This shows the importance of the educational provisions provided for children with learning disabilities; these provisions should provide support to children and young people that are diagnosed with a learning difficulty or disability. The Children and Families Act 2014 sets out guidelines of the policies and standards that individuals should be protected whilst being under the Children and Families act. For example, this act states that it provides educational provision as well as health and social care provisions to help promote the well-being of children or young people with special educational needs or disabilities.
Although, there are provisions provided to support children and young people’s educational needs; it can also disempower individuals by having a limited amount of spaces within specialist schools that offer the support that children with difficulties and disabilities need. This can become a key issue for children, young people and parents as it can be difficult for parents to place children in mainstream schools as well as other specialist schools; this can be an issue as it leaves children and young people without education. By having children that have been diagnosed with a learning difficulty or disability, it’s important to empower individuals to get treated equally by others. Spaces can become limited for more profound disabilities, specialist schools have limited spaces which means that it depends on a child’s needs and whether another child has higher needs, this would result in the child taking the place. This disempowers other children that do not receive a place within mainstream schools and specialist schools; for example, children are sometimes placed into schools but aren’t given the extra support required for a child with difficulties. A mother requested extra support for her son Ben that has been diagnosed with Autism and deep anxiety. ‘From the first year of his schooling, she says, she had requested extra support, but the school did not offer the assistance she believed he needed. “I was made to feel I was hysterical and attention-seeking just for asking for support for my son’s needs,” she says’. (Tickle, 2017) This shows how parents with children suffering from a learning disability can become extremely difficult to deal with whilst the children are not in education and receiving extra support.
Another parent Jeremy had a similar situation with his daughter Bethany that had been diagnosed with autism; however, his daughter has been placed within a secure unit and has received horrific treatment and detentions within the secure unit. However, this empowers the young girl that has been diagnosed with autism ‘as a group of MPs calls for an overhaul of mental health legislation in order to stop the "horrific" and inappropriate detention of young people with learning disabilities’. (BBC News, 2019) This shows the empowerment of young people with learning disabilities and how the government is involved in supporting and empowering individuals like Bethany, the Human Rights committee agrees that conditions in hospitals inflict ‘terrible suffering’ on those detained within secure units. The Human Rights Act 1998 protects those that are mistreated and treated unfairly by hospitals; this has an impact on the individuals within secure units and hospitals that detain young people with learning disabilities. ‘The Human Rights Act 1998 sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to’. (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2018) This shows how children and young people with learning disabilities are empowered by different legislation such as the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998 which shows the importance of the treatment for young people suffering from a learning disability such as autism. The Human Rights Act 1998 sets out policies and standards that should be met under the Human Rights act, this includes the protection of those with learning disabilities; ‘people with learning disabilities have the right to receive care and support that is dignified and respectful. A public authority must intervene if a person deliberately inflicts mental or physical harm on a person with a learning disability, which includes physical and/or psychological abuse in a health or care setting’. (HFT, 2020) The empowerment of children with disabilities is important to the child’s life and the ability to being treated equal to others.
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An education, health and care plan (EHCP) is created for all children and young people suffering from learning disabilities, this is used to support the needs of different children and young people for their educational needs which is important when being placed into specialist schools or within mainstream schools. ‘It outlines any special educational needs a child has, and the provision a local authority must put in place to help them’. (Good School Guide, 2020) These plans are necessary when looking at the different difficulties that children and young people face when being diagnosed with a learning disability; the plans are created by local authorities for individuals. The Care Act 2014 works in partnership with the Children and Families Act 2014 to support children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities; this can be used to empower individuals as it allows them to receive the support for their needs; these acts also work together to prepare children and young people for adulthood, this is important as it allows those with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Other schools that support the needs of children and young people with learning difficulties; such as a new school opening in my local area to support children’s social, emotional, and mental health needs (SEMH). The Everitt Academy supports the needs of children and young people with difficulties; ‘the school supports young people in Waveney school district aged 9 to 16-years-old who find themselves outside mainstream education to achieve their potential, progress quickly, and succeed in sustained education or employment’. (Rogers, 2017) This empowers children that are affected by their social, emotional and mental health, this emphasises the importance of the social and emotional development for children and young people. By working with children and young people, it allows children to build up self-esteem and confidence when supporting those within a school supporting SEMH needs.
To empower other children and young people that show aggressive behaviour, may lead to children going to schools that support their needs. Schools such as Bramfield House School and Acorn Park school, these provisions offer support to children and young people’s needs involving aggressive behaviours and attitudes. These schools are there to support and acknowledge the children that cannot get in to mainstream schools because their behaviour may affect their learning and others learning. Although these children cannot help their actions; for example, Bramfield House School is an all-boys school from the age of 7-16 years. ‘Bramfield House School caters for students with a wide range of needs including social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, including SEMH, Asperger’s, ASD, ADHD, dyslexia and students who would be emotionally vulnerable in a mainstream environment’. (Bramfield House School, 2020) By opening a school that caters to children and young people with behavioural difficulties, empowers the individuals to work hard and gain confidence whilst dealing with learning difficulties. Acorn Park School is a similar provision that offers support to the needs of children diagnosed with autism, as well as additional needs, such as ADHD, epilepsy and Tourette’s. This empowers children and young people by giving individuals a chance that may not have been accepted within mainstream settings or other specialist units.
In my work experience at a pre-school in my area, I have worked with children on a daily basis to help and encourage them to become more confident and independent as they grow older. The use of empowerment that is used to support young children within education is important as it allows children to become self-reliant when learning things within the nursery. From my experience in this pre-school, the teachers work with children to have an impact on a child’s life by teaching them the importance of equality of children and adults. The use of equality and diversity enables children to understand the importance of not discriminating other children that are under the Equality Act 2010. On my first day of placement at Uplands Pre-School, the manager set out the guidelines of the policies and procedures within the nursery such as confidentiality, equality, health and safety, inclusion, safeguarding children, evacuation of the building, and the student and volunteers policy. When reading through these with the manager, it allowed me to understand the different policies that were set out for the children and the protection in the pre-school. These policies and standards are set out to outline the importance of the protection of children in the pre-school and the procedures that all teachers and adults must follow. In my experience of my work placements, I have worked with a child that had a learning disability which allowed me to work with and empower the child by using different methods of support and help when being involved within activities. From my experience, family members and friends have had experience of the struggles of trying to get their children with learning disabilities into a mainstream school or specialist school because the child’s needs cannot be met. This allows me to understand the struggle of parents trying to empower children with difficulties and disabilities but cannot receive the support and help that the child needs. This is important to overcome as the child gets older as it can have an impact on the child’s outlook on the future. This is why legislation is used to protect those within the protected characteristics under the Equality Act to allow them the same education and opportunities as those without difficulties.
- BBC News, (2019) ‘Horrific’ treatment of my autistic daughter [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/health-50261407/horrific-treatment-of-my-autistic-daughter [Date accessed: 06/01/20]
- Bramfield House School, (2020) A Parent’s Guide to Our School [online] Available at: https://www.bramfieldhouse.co.uk/about-us/local-offer/ [Date accessed: 14/01/20]
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- Equality and Human Rights Commission, (2019) Protected Characteristics [online] Available at: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/equality-act/protected-characteristics [Date accessed: 04/01/20]
- Good School Guide, (2020) Getting an EHCP [online] Available at: https://www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk/special-educational-needs/legal/getting-an-ehcp [Date accessed: 13/01/20]
- HFT, (2020) Human Rights Act [online] Available at: https://www.hft.org.uk/resources-and-guidance/disability-rights-and-legal/human-rights-act/ [Date accessed: 14/01/20]
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- Rogers, C (2017) The Everitt Academy opens in Lowestoft [online] Available at: https://academytoday.co.uk/Article/the-everitt-academy-opens-in-lowestoft [Date accessed: 14/01/20]
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- Tickle, L (2017) ‘People give up’: the crisis in school support for children with special needs [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/sep/05/crisis-in-support-for-sen-children-ehc-plans [Date accessed: 06/01/20]
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