Clarification of the Social Model of Disability
Anne Marie Cunningham said...
I can see this is going to be an interesting discussion! So would a social model of medicine say that we shouldn't bother to try and treat disease? Instead we should accommodate people who have illness and make their lives as comfortable as possible.
Under some circumstances yes! Let me use mother-in-law's death as an example. She was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had the affected kidney removed. Her quality of life improved for a while but soon she became ill again. The cancer had spread to her other kidney and secondaries had appeared. She was 77 and had been widowed for seven years. She herself took the decision that she had had a good life and could face her end. Being a Christian probably helped. She refused the treatment offered (more surgery and chemo) but accepted palliative care and died soon after. Three of her four children were with her when she died.
I can imagine that in another context her decision would have been resisted by the professionals and/or family.
I guess I get a little confused about the social model of disability. If I had broke my wrist 100 years ago I wouldn't have had the surgery that helped minimise deformity as it healed and so is encouraging a return to normal function. If I had been left with impaired function in my wrist then I would have a disability and could have been handicapped by this. Yes, efforts could be made to reduce this by adapting my car or getting me software so that I could voice dictate rather than type. I might have moved in to an area of medicine that didn't involve physical contact with patient.
All of that would have reduced the impact of my disability on my life. But the medical model has meant that I haven't had to endure that.
You seem to be confusing the Medical (or Traditional) Model of Disability with medicine in general. I have edited my previous post to make it clearer when I am talking about the former, and when the latter.
To me it seems obvious that the two models are not opposed to each other but can live easily together. Medically we do what is sensible and what the patient agrees to, whilst still helping them to live socially as best they can with whatever impairment or disability is retained.
The Social Model of Disability doesn't say medical interventions are necessarily bad. Disabled children should receive the same childhood vaccinations as any other child, for example. What it discourages is medical interventions aimed at "fixing" the impairment. Many deaf people could have some hearing restored by cochlear implants but will resist the idea. They have a perfectly good form of communication in American or British Sign Language, they have no need to hear. It's your problem that you can't understand them, so get an interpretor. This is a hardline interpretation but it exists.
However, the model does support the idea of working with health and other professionals to remove the barriers. Bobath Therapy is a good example. This uses speach, physio- and occupational therapists to help children with Cerebral Palsy and their parents overcome some of the effects of their impairments. Bobath Children's Therapy Centre Wales illustrates this with a number of fictionalised stories—I find Bethan's Story particularly affecting.
A proposed name for the model
In a comment to my previous post healthskills said…
I'm both a health provider AND a patient (tell me which health provider isn't going to, at some point, become a patient?!!).
I totally endorse 'health literacy' or becoming informed and in charge of their own health management.
I'd prefer to call it 'social model of health management' rather than medicine - because medicine continues to focus on deficits, impairments and biology without considering the psychological and social, and without considering the strengths, resilience and assets we all come to health care settings with.
For me, that says it all. We have a name for the model—Social Model of Health Management. It also suggests a Twitter tag—#smhm.