Staff as liberators: liberation from what?

Sue Dumbleton

This paper will examine the impact of history on the ways in which people who have a learning disability are supported in the 21st century. While knowledge and understanding of history is very important, can it sometimes get in the way of developing new ways of working? Are some workers ‘stuck in the past’? Do they think that the people they support have had the same experiences as people with a learning disability might have had 20, 30 or 50 years ago? If they do, what stops them from changing? Is it because history is so powerful?

My paper will try to answer some of these questions and will suggest that for some staff the romance of history, of the exciting challenges of practice 20 or 30 years ago, might get in the way of providing good support in 2010. My ideas are based on some recent personal experiences of the way support is provided. As has often been the case my professional knowledge and practice have been challenged by what I have learned as a parent.

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