Social Role Valorisation

“We are known by the company, we keep” – Thomas W. Byrnes

Social Role Valorisation (SRV) is designed to enhance Social Images and Personal Competencies where disadvantaged people are more likely to be included in society (at a personal level, the immediate social system around that person (family, friends, colleagues, workers in institutions etc.), the intermediate social system that the person interacts with (people in shops, banks, organisations etc. plus those institutions themselves.) and the larger society- the socio-political-economic structures of society.

SRV (which itself evolved from the concept of Normalisation) is probably the most influential social paradigm used to provide a better life for people with disability. The idea of Normalisation (where all members of society have the same right to a the same way of life as others within that society) has been around for a long time. It has only been in the last 10 to 20 years that we have had the incentives, skills and resources to provide for a more humanistic approach to meeting needs of disadvantaged people in society.

SRV is about social roles. Society tends to group people into different classifications or groups according to a particular characteristic of a person that stands out. Regardless of the persons individual differences. society generally assigns a particular role to all people that share that characteristic. This role describes the persons behaviours, and how we should associate with the person. Roles are also a way to visualise the person and what we may expect from the person. Some social roles are positive. Hero, friend, supporter, defender of the faith, aussie battler, statesman etc all create a positive image of the person.

Other social roles are negative. Druggie, criminal, nigger, deviant, sick, dole bludger, alcoholic etc all create a negative picture or impression of the person, and as a result, the person will be negatively valued, and treated differently to others, regardless of any other positive characteristics the person may have.

SRV shows us that disadvantaged people were devalued by society, and that by changing the way they are seen (their role), we change our behaviours and expectations, and add value to their lives by giving them the opportunity to participate in valued relationships and activities.

Person Centered Planning, the Least Restrictive Principle and Transitional planning have all evolved from the principles of SRV. Each model is designed to allow (or facilitate) positive behaviours and attitudes within society, where the person to be able to participate, as much as possible, within each community that most suits the person’s needs. These models of care could be thought of as the vehicle, SRV is the engine that drives each model of care, and government policy and practice serves as the highways and byways.

When we change the perspective from Society to Community we have a better idea of what we are trying to achieve. Community is all about valued relationships, about caring and sharing, about being with others we love. SRV is all about providing those valued relationships and support networks to disadvantaged people who have been disenfranchised by society for various reasons. Valued relationships transcend roles. Without others to share our feelings with, life becomes meaningless.

It does not matter how much money or possessions we have, if we have no one to share it with, life becomes meaningless. SRV is all about building values and relationships in communities. These communities may be a part of an organisation or service provider, a family or club, or work, or school. By providing valued roles for ALL members of each community that the person wishes to participate in and is most appropriate for the person, the person is more likely to have valued relationships within those communities.

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