Advice and development

Ask and listen: disabled people are experts in their own care

Nurse Bethann Siviter, a wheelchair user who has an assistance dog, offers her advice to nursing students on disability etiquette
Older man with walking stick and nurse. Picture: iStock

Nurse Bethann Siviter, a wheelchair user who has an assistance dog, offers her advice to nursing students on disability etiquette

The medical model states disability and related problems result from mental or physical impairments. However, many disabled people prefer the social model of disability where the emphasis is on how society’s barriers obstruct activities of daily life.

The social model suits nursing well. Nurses compare what a person can do for themselves with what they would do if they were able, willing and knowledgeable. Disability impacts people in every way across ADLs (activities of daily living). Nurses look at all those things when doing a thorough assessment.

Reflection: Could the social model help you focus on the person rather than their impairments?

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