Act 4 Inclusion
Choice, Control, Independence.
We are a non-party political campaigning organisation involving disabled people, carers, trade unionists, activists, academics and health and social care professionals and workers. We are a coalition of individual members and affiliated organisations campaigning for all social support, independent living and care services to be:
- Free at the point of use
- Fully funded through progressive taxation
- Subject to national standards based on article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, addressing people’s aspirations and choices and with robust safeguarding procedures.
- Publicly and democratically run, designed, and delivered locally and co-productively involving service users, disabled people and carers, sector workers, communities, Local Authorities, and the NHS.
- Underpinned by a workforce who have appropriate training, qualifications, career structure, pay and conditions.
- Committed to giving informal carers the rights and support they need.
We believe our vision for the future is bold and transformative; it is one that puts people’s choice, control and lifestyles first. Our vision and strategy grew out of difficult and uncertain times for disabled and older people and emerged from discussion, lived experience, and the opportunity to work together in coproduction. We realised that our vision and all we do, requires us to go beyond reclaiming, fixing or integrating the failing current system we call “Adult Social Care”. We truly need to build a better future for all people and our natural environment.
To achieve this we need to develop an eco-social approach towards a new system of support which has its foundations rooted in the social model of disability and the disabled people’s independent living movement, but also with the added responsibility to understand and incorporate natural ecosystems into our way forward for social support.
What does inclusion mean to us?
Key to developing our new vision and strategy is the ability to explain and put into action what lies behind our name: Act 4 Inclusion. Our starting point has to be seeking agreement on how we view ‘inclusion’ and then looking at how it relates to our vision and strategy. One definition of inclusion is:
“….how diversity is ….[used as a lever] to create a fair, equitable, healthy, and high-performing organisation or community where all individuals are respected, feel engaged and motivated, and their contributions toward meeting organisational and societal goals are valued.” This definition comes from Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks: Standards for Organisations Around the World
What is the type of diversity Act 4 Inclusion wants to use? We wish to see it as the practice of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc., not just within our own organisation, but across communities we want to influence and engage with. To be able to work this way, it is necessary for us as an organisation, our allies and those we seek to coproduce with, to recognise that the opposite of what inclusion should be is currently being experienced by older and disabled people who rely on social support.
Older and disabled people are often excluded, marginalised, lacking in choice and control; in other words, disempowered and ‘done to’ within structures and systems that neither includes nor truly respects them. The current system is in crisis not simply because its underfunded or in hands of the private sector; it is failing because it is not fit-for-purpose.
Developing inclusion is not the same as integration. It is not possible to ‘integrate’ people into a service, system or society that does not cater for their needs or lifestyles; only by transforming the structures, systems, services, through acting for inclusion, will everything become fairer, more equitable, healthy, and high-performing. Acting for inclusion however has to go beyond developing inclusive practices in order to be truly effective.
How do we make the necessary changes?
We need to value people; their diversity, cultures and lifestyles. We must acknowledge what we have in common and also our differences; thereby leaving no one behind. Alongside valuing people we must also value our planet and take responsibility for tendering both natural and built environments.
Our inclusive practice can be developed by focusing on all the various systems that impact upon people’s lifestyles. The approach we are adopting combines understanding there is need to be mindful of all the environments of living things and the relationships between them. Alongside doing this, there is a need to understand the interconnectedness with social environments. This is called an eco-social approach because is seeks ways to encourage and develop sustainability alongside developing services that promote independent living.
Independent Living recognises that disability is a form of discrimination that is institutionalised throughout society; impacting on disabled people collectively as well as individually. Historically, the experience of social restrictions resulted in exclusion and marginalisation in the form of institutionalisation. To create independent living it is necessary to identify disabling barriers or other social restrictions and prioritise actions for their removal. This is possible through addressing the combination of various social, environmental, and individual influences that impact upon older and disabled people’s ability to have control over their own lives. This includes the opportunity to make real choices and decisions regarding where to live, with whom to live and how to live. Independent living through inclusive practices recognises there is a need for interdependency between people. Interacting with other people is crucial if we are going to build an inclusive and sustainable future.
The eco-social approach
If we are serious about creating independent living for older and disabled people, then our starting point is to see how an individual’s lifestyle is impacted upon by close and distant environments. This is where the social interpretation of disability can combine with Ecological Systems Theory. The social interpretation of disability locates ‘the problem’ not as caused by the nature or degree of a person’s chronic illness or impairment, but rather sees it arising from how society’s structures and systems fail to accommodate specific groups of people. Developing inclusive policies, practices, and services, therefore, requires us to start from the ways social restrictions and disabling barriers differentially impact on different groups of people rather than simply seeking to address differences in experience among individuals who have different impairments.
Through identifying existing and potential social restrictions and disabling barriers encountered by older and disabled people we can be better placed to address an individual’s support needs. Building a holistic picture of someone’s lifestyle requires us to consider influences or environments affecting them.
• Individual influences shape their lifestyles, for example, how they view themselves; the knowledge, attitudes, values, and skills, they have. Add to this how a person currently live their lives, which includes their personal behaviour.
• Developing independent living rests upon understanding an individual’s interpersonal relationships and those they have direct contact with. What this means is taking into consideration a person’s formal and/or informal networks, alongside existing social support systems which may be provided by family members, friends, neighbours, work or members of a club, etc.
• A person’s lifestyle and support needs can be impacted upon by organisational or institutional influences arising from interactions with social institutions, for example: day services, workplaces, clubs, political bodies, etc., and their organisational characteristics.
• Consideration of community influences is required. What kind of relationships does the person currently have with or in organisations with defined boundaries, for example, social and health services. Other community influences could include transport systems, housing, access to local amenities and community-based services.
• The ability to develop independent living and community-based services is also affected by societal and public policy existing at local or national levels, for example laws, legislation or social policy.
Finally, there are ecological influences that need to be taken into account. Global warming, climate change and the increasing need to develop sustainable communities all impact upon how we create inclusive societies and ensure older and disabled people are not faced with new restrictions or exclusionary practices.
We believe the eco-social approach builds upon the past experiences of disabled people who employed the social model by paying greater attention to the interactions taking place between differing environments where social restrictions and disabling barriers are encountered. As a whole system approach, it encourages inclusive practice and the employment of coproduction. To act for inclusion therefore opens up the pathway to the realisation of “Nothing About Us, Without Us.”
Read more about Disability and Society
If you agree with our aims and want to get involved in campaigning, or are simply someone who wants a properly funded and resourced care support system, please join us.
If your organisation, trade union, or campaign group supports our objectives, please affiliate. Together we can do so much more.