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Quality of Life
A boy holds a small plastic toy

In order to improve the quality of a family's life, it is important not only to seek and take account of the views of parents but to work closely with them and empower them to make changes, where necessary, to the systems that they and their child are subject to.

It is important for schools to develop shared expectations with families (Russell 2003).

Models of empowerment

According to Bronfenbrenner (1979) a model of empowerment has three characteristics.

Diagram showing Models of Empowerment has
                  three characteristics 1. Ensuring that you work with families rather than trying to
                  exert control over families. This means that families must have choice in terms of
                  stating their priorities for a better Quality  of Life. 2.  A focus on the family's
                  strengths rather than their difficulties. 3. The entire family should be seen as the
                  focus for empowerment, not just the child with a disability.

Enhancing the quality of a family's life can be seen within Bronfenbrenner's model. Here the focus of empowerment is the impact that the family can make on their environment by transforming services, local communities and societies so that their quality of life can be improved.

Models of empowerment

Improving the system and transforming services, local communities and society will naturally have a positive impact on families.

Here Harvey's dad, Simon explains what he thinks is wrong with the system.

  • Poster
Services, community and society

Consider how schools help improve:

Diagram showing  the three environmental
                  levels: services, community and society

For each level, consider the following for your own environment:

  • What can your school do to improve the range and quality of services provided to families?
  • What part does your school play in the local community and how does this positively impact families?
  • How can your school help change society?
The broad agenda
A boy in a wheelchair being lowered
                  from a bus

You may feel slightly overwhelmed by having to address such a broad agenda. However, dealing with that broad agenda can also empower teachers and schools who can see the impact of the community on the lives of their children. The complexity and interconnectedness of the Quality of Life for these children and their families needs to be recognised by everyone in Education and Children Services.

Further reading
Open book

Russell, F. (2003) The expectations of parents of disabled children, British Journal of Special Education 30.3. 144-149.

Turnbull, A., Turnbull, R. (2002) 'From the Old to The New Paradigm of Disability and Families: Research to Enhance Family Quality of Life Outcomes', In J. Paul, C. Lavely, A. Cranston-Gingras, and E.Taylor (eds) Rethinking Professional Issues in Special Education, Ablex Publishing: London.