Unit 16 Understanding Specific Needs in HSC

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The aim of this unit is to enable learners to gain insight into the ways that health and social care services empower users with specific needs to access the services they need easily.

 Unit abstract

Because meeting the diverse demands of individuals with specific requirements is integral to the work of our health and social care services, learners considering a career in these fields will need to know the ways that services respond to these demands. Learners will find out how a specific need is defined and how perceptions of individuals with such needs are influenced and can change over time. The care requirements of individuals with specific needs will be investigated, together with the way in which legislation, organisations and services support such needs. Learners will have the opportunity to develop understanding of the impact the approaches and interventions have on individuals (particularly those who display challenging behaviour) and how, in turn, their needs affect the ways that services are provided. Whilst learners will be able to develop an overview of the range of specific needs, they may focus their study on those special needs relevant to their employment, voluntary work or placement.

Learning outcomes

1 Understand perceptions of health, disability, illness and behaviour

  • Concepts: normality, images, models, definitions, language and terminology
  • Perceptions: labels, stigma, discrimination, oppression, rights
  • Attitudes over time: historical perspectives, social and political developments, medical and technological advances
  • Legislation and social policy: reflects changes in attitude, modifies attitudes and practices, inclusion, policies, community care initiatives; recent and emerging change; relevant acts eg Human Rights Act 1998, Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004, Disability Discrimination Act 2005, The Mental Health Act 2007, The Health and Social Care Act 2008, The Children Act 2004: Every Child Matters; relevant policies eg Putting People First 2007, Our Health, Our Care, Our Say 2006.

2 Understand how health and social care services and systems support individuals with specific needs

  • Care needs: physical, social, emotional, language, intellectual, sexual, spiritual
  • Organisations and systems:statutory, not-for-profit, voluntary; self-help, formal, informal care
  • Services: health, social care; day, residential; education, recreation, transport; access eg geographical, physical, financial.

3 Understand approaches and intervention strategies that support individuals with specific needs

  • Approaches and interventions: self-help, direct action, partnerships, evidence-based practice, advocacy, guardianship, autonomy and empowerment, risk management; medical, technological, therapeutic products, lifestyle choices and therapies
  • Potential tensions: rights versus protection of self and others; alleviation of needs versus remedial therapy; risk versus autonomy and independence; choices and preferences; service dilemmas and policies eg cost benefit analyses, priorities
  • Emerging developments: medical and technological advances, changes to legislation and policy, local, national and international perspectives.

4 Understand strategies for coping with challenging behaviours associated with specific needs

  • Challenging behaviours: learning disabilities, physical disabilities, ill health (physical and mental), physical impairment, acquired brain injury, drugs and alcohol
  • Methods of working: communication, setting clear boundaries/targets, time out, rewards and sanctions, medication
  • Organisational implications: legal framework, professional standards, codes of practice, policies and procedures.


  • REIS, G. (2007) Project Management Demystified. 3rd Ed. London: Taylor and Francis.

The following may be useful but the list is not exhaustive:

  • www.arc.org.uk                                                    Arthritis Research Campaign
  • www.direct.gov.uk                                                UK government website
  • www.equalityhumanrights.com                              Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • www.learningdisabilities.org.uk                              Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities
  • www.mencap.org.uk                                             Mencap

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