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Developing Wellbeing as a Critical Tool in Social Work Education: An Example from the Field of Learning Disability

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This paper will explore how ‘wellbeing’ is used in social work education to develop a critical understanding of the current English personalisation agenda, in relation to people with ‘moderate to severe’ learning disabilities. Drawing upon a short thematic analysis of policy for Learning Disability and Social Work Education, the paper will develop the argument that social wellbeing is an important factor for critical engagement and practice with this service-user group. Based upon teaching – incorporating service user and care views, as well as current research-in-progress, Schalock's (2004) taxonomy of wellbeing is developed to focus upon three themes: friendships and relationships; community engagement and structural factors. The importance for social workers of exploring aspects of community, in its widest sense, is emphasised, contrasting with a narrower view presented in policy implementation. The application of wellbeing as a practice and analytical concept therefore provides a framework for a critically reflective and engaged practice.
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Keywords: Critical Practice; Learning Disability; Social Work Practice; Wellbeing

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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