chapter  18
13 Pages

Independent living

ByCharlotte Pearson

This chapter explores how the philosophy of independent living has emerged over the last 30 years and, in turn, has been reflected in policy for disabled people. As Morris (2005) explains, local and national disability organizations have had some significant successes in promoting independent living, with research conducted using the social model of disability and involving disabled people and their organizations playing a key role in influencing policy development. However, there remains a limited understanding across the political spectrum of what independent living means and what is necessary to achieve it. Discussion in this chapter, therefore, seeks to show how independent living has been represented on the policy agenda. It begins by outlining the development of independent living in the US and its infiltration to encourage a network of independent living services, structures and policy initiatives in the UK. Alongside these changes, the chapter moves on to highlight broader policy through community care, direct payments and other cash payment schemes both in the UK and across North America and Europe. Whilst shifts to cash payment models have undoubtedly improved the choices for and the lives of many disabled people, commentary shows that their position in a service-led and resources-poor system of social care has restricted independent living options for much of the disabled population. The chapter concludes by looking at the prospects for independent living in an era of economic downturn.