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Journal article

Disabled children and their families in Ukraine: health and mental health issues for families caring for their disabled child at home

Author:
BRIDGE Gillian
Journal article citation:
Social Work in Health Care, 39(1/2), 2004, pp.89-105.
Publisher:
Taylor and Francis
Place of publication:
Philadelphia, USA

In the Eastern European countries included in the communist system of the USSR, parents of disabled children were encouraged to commit their disabled child to institutional care. There were strict legal regulations excluding them from schools. Medical assessments were used for care decisions. Nevertheless many parents decided to care for their disabled child at home within the family. Ukraine became an independent country in 1991, when communism was replaced by liberal democracy within a free market system. Western solutions have been sought for many social problems existing, but 'hidden,' under the old regime. For more of the parents of disabled children, this has meant embracing ideas of caring for their disabled children in the community, and providing for their social, educational, and medical needs, which have previously been denied. The issue of disability is a serious one for Ukraine where the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986 caused extensive radiation poisoning. This almost certainly led to an increase in the number of disabled children being born and an increase in the incidence of various forms of cancer. This paper is based on a series of observation visits to some of the many self-help groups established by parents, usually mothers, for their disabled children. It draws attention to the emotional stress experienced both by parents and their disabled children in the process of attempting to come to terms with the disabling conditions, and the denial of the normal rights of childhood resulting from prejudice, poor resources, ignorance, and restrictive legislation. Attempts have been made to identify the possible role and tasks of professional social workers within this context. International comparisons show that many parents and their children do not benefit from the medical model of disability, and that serious consequences include the development of depressive illness among those who find that little help is available from public services. (Copies of this article are available from: Haworth Document Delivery Centre, Haworth Press Inc., 10 Alice Street, Binghamton, NY 13904-1580)

Journal article Full text available online for free

Providing for disabled children in the community in Ukraine after communism: a western perspective

Author:
BRIDGE Gillian
Journal article citation:
Social Work in Europe, 8(2), 2001, pp.2-9.
Publisher:
Russell House

This discussion paper has as its focus a Western perspective on community care provided by families for disabled children in Ukraine. This country is of interest in that it is one of the largest of the fifteen states to become independent from the Soviet Union, and to change from communism to a democratic, market economy. Additionally the number of disabled and sick children in Ukraine has increased considerably after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. Using material derived from a series of study visits, a picture emerges of courage in adversity, as parents campaign to obtain sponsorship from Western Europe in the deteriorating economic and social conditions of this transition period. Specific attention is drawn to the limited educational and rehabilitation facilities available to disabled children; independence on a medical model of disability and on out-dated, under-researched treatment approaches. However, as is common practice throughout the world, many parent-led self-help groups, some formed before 1991, are actively campaigning for changes in policy and provision so that their children may be included in society. These projects are benefiting from contact with Western ideas about social work and social welfare policy through the development of the School of Social Work at the Kyiv Mohyla Academy. Concludes that more collaboration is needed between medical, educational and social welfare perspectives to improve the lives of disabled children and their families in Ukraine.

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