A reflection on PostModernism and the transformation of failure in learning disability services within the independent public sector at the beginning of the 21st Century

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Abstract

Summary

If ever there was a right time to write about Learning Disability Services in the context of a transformation, this is it. I am not writing about the subject as a single entity, divorced from the bigger picture of what is happening to society and the world about us. Whatever ‘transforming’ is going on for people with learning disability, it is doing so in the context of a global market place. The concept of ‘Cutting Up Sharks’ identifies danger as a by-product of inclusion. On the world's stage the news headlines have the same implications for us all. The change in the construction and administration of both the National Health Service and Social Services has, and is, having a profound effect on the lives of people with learning disabilities. Those changes have come about, in part, due to a recognition of past failures. I have worked in Learning Disability Services for 19 years, I have seen in that time British society slowly, often painfully slowly, begin to recognize people with learning disabilities amongst its population. In a PostModernist world recognition is about visibility, which in turn makes people potential targets. The ‘Inclusion’ championed in ‘Valuing People’ brings with it a right to be recognized and in so doing people with learning disabilities are included in a ‘general loss of confidence within Western democratic culture’. (Butler 2002, p. 110) Inclusion becomes not merely a question of service provision, it is also about bombs on buses, famine and bird flu, global warming and fragile democracies. There is a creaking door opening for people with learning disabilities, providing them recognition within the PostModern construct of fragmented societies. I would contend that against such a backdrop there is a real chance of the failure to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities becoming transformed.

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