Competence, development and activity strategies

The text above is a made up dialogue between two neighbours, but it has surely taken place a lot of times. What about its correspondence on the welfare- and special-school competence area? Have you ever experienced that a friend asks about professional advice for his own or someone else's differently abled child? Have you suggested half the price - for old friendship's sake?

Probably not. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that welfare-competence is indefinable, while the car-mechanic's knowledge is visible. Perhaps it is about evaluation and things that are controllable. An experienced car-mechanic can in most cases do a quick judgement on what kind of fault it isand give an approximate price and time. You can easily find out if he had done a correct judgement or not by test-driving the car.


If a couple of parents will come to a group-home with their son it is very rare that the manager can give details of the methods they are working with, and how they will support the child's development. Managers usually shudder at questions about methods from parents and trainees. "Do you work environment-therapeutically or consequence-pedagogical, anthroposophically or according to SIVUS? Or is it little of everything?"

The answer is often: "We have a lot of warmth and consideration," and "We have a safety and welfare the differently abled appreciate." They thus refer to soft variables and sound like it is impossible to combine consideration and method.

A big exception is the TEACCH-method (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped CHildren). Which by its concreteness is clearer and more suitable for evaluations than the more vague methods. The introduction of technology will also be easier if it meets a clear competence- and working model.

At the request of the national board of health and welfare, and the county commissioner a book has been published About welfare and competence. This is good. Conversations about competence-breadth as well as -depth and -multiplicity are needed on all levels.

The competence-discussion that is going on right now is mostly about possible consequences of the changeover from county council activity to municipal activity: "Will it be the school-psychologist who will come to the group-homes? Can a health visitor assistant really do a nurse job?". Etc.

We will here choose a completely different starting point and question once more if welfare work and its personnel-competence ought to be dominated by care at all. The differently abled persons are not sicker than others. Maybe it is not nurses and keepers you above all need for advice and support in a personality-development? Maybe it is more important with professional inspirers and instructors as craftsmen, artists, educationists and technicians?

This is what Maria Carlsson and Maria Gunnarsson write in their essay in research upon social welfare, the autumn term 1993. Their conclusions are the same as ours.

Some of the problems with welfare of today are that you

We believe that the welfare-competence has to be challenged. Outwards by letting in the world around. Inwards by doing the personnel more heterogeneous. The competence will not be visible and can not be further developed if you do not put it into circulation.

In connection with the breaking-up 1995, Tobias got his own Isaac-book with pictures he had taken of things he had done during the spring.


When you cannot stand it as personnel, when it feels like all you can do is to go to the toilet and beat your head against the wall over and over and over and then go out and continue to work - what alternatives do you really have in practise? What kind of development-work is going on?

It is obviousthat individual conversations and inspiration are needed at the level of every-day life. But most important is to change

The start of the development does not have to be grand. A small example, that we have got through the Isaac-project, is such changes that are initiated if you systematically start to lay up banks of pictures and picture-sequences. Then the personnel have to think ahead rather than being a deputy maker at the moment. Then you can create sensible duty- foundations with greater possibility to flexible content and better distribution between day and night.

The issue with a more sensible duty-foundation is particularly important in those cases where the activity is concerning differently abled people who are in the need for many years nearness to a particular individual, to establish a good communication. The way you work today means that a lot of the jobs become so small you cannot live on them. This means rotation that hurts the differently abled persons.

The development within the personnel ought to be seen in its content to the remainingactivity-development. Let us study a specific theme, and that is aggression, and let us see what it demands on macro- and micro-level. The list will be long with measures that have shown themselves necessary:

It is impossible to reach even a fraction of this, the personnel do not have the possibility to meet personnel from other places, read non-fiction magazines, have individual conversations and further education etc. But far from everything demands special-resources. Much can be arranged if the manager and the group give priority to development-achievements. Imagine what it would mean if the welfare built up an active Internet-communication!


There are a lot of books about activity-strategies. We just want to point at three concentrations we believe are important within an activity that also is be able to use the development of the technology:

1. Network

When we now have ended up in a time of quick changes, organisations that once were adapted to their purposes now appear to us like clumsy dinosaurs. But individuals are still very moveable and have a sensible ear.

It is the overlapping of human networks that brings the culture and the society together. If there isn't any overlapping the system will fall like a house of cards. We have seen this in the East-States where they by prohibition of travelling and informing made the network of the people very small and separated.

In Sweden has the public sector been ahead of the economic life in much, but concerning the building of network they are way behind. Network within the welfare and special-school would contribute towards a dynamic stability within the development-work for the differently abled. Besides the network can be one of the solutions on the backside of the decentralization: that people are too isolated on their jobs, do not get any new ideas or support by experts and colleagues. If every employee built up at least two contacts with other personnel within other activities it would at least result in two effects:

A lot of knowledge will be put into circulation. Knowledge, that will move, become visible and developed.

Individual human being's network will start to overlapp. It is in fact an overlapping like that, that constitutes the hidden hart within an activity. That prevents it from falling apart like a house of cards when it is exposed to outer strain. That can continue with its heartbeats in any organisation form what so ever.

Network demands that you go outside your own group sometimes. We believe that it is necessary if you want to develop your work and look upon your experiences from another point of view. What shape the network will take - if you meet, if you create conversation groups on the net, if you have columns in the papers - does not matter. What is important is that the experience-knowledge will be visible by being in motion. And that you, via overlapping network are trying to accomplish stability in the quick changing.

2. Broaden recruiting

To recruit capable young people to lonely work, for example as personal assistant 8 hours a day, is neither easy nor right. Welfare work is marketed with very strong care- and supporting -signs. You do not distribute any feelings that you have to use your brain more than at any other job. By not talking about diseases, buckets and vacuum-cleaners but instead showing the need ofcreativity, pedagogy, technology and art you should be able to attract some of the young people who today study media, art and technology. Even men. The educationmust of course be changed in the same direction as the profile of the recruiting.

3. More heterogeneous work-teams

In conversations without prestige in separate special- and welfare-connections, there are four angels you have to think of:

All people and all organisations are mixtures of these four, but some people and some organisations are dominated by one of them. For individuals this is not only acceptable - it could be splendid. A person who are a good manager or blizzard-contractor or eager supporter for result or administrator is worth his weight in gold. But does she fit in, into the working-team? Yes, she does, if the organisation will form itself into a quartet that not only accepts but nurse the multitude.

Imagine the activity that could be created by an ideal-work-team based on people similar to those four below:

THE MANAGER. Many maybe think that the manager is just a little too excellent and predictable and wished there was more of an contractor inside him/her. But a good manager can be worth all sorts of admiration. We want to give an example: the teacher Anna.

THE BLIZZARD-CONTRACTOR. The most common blizzard-constructor is probably the young deputy or trainee who has thousands of fresh ideas and strength and energy to carry them through. Arne tells us:

Many people think that these sparkling contractors are more of evil than of good, since they in a very short time put everything upside down and then disappear without taking any long-range considerations of their impulsive ideas. But you should be extremely glad when persons like this appears. They are great medicine towards stagnation. At this group-home it happened that the differently abled many years after, in a giggling way told stories about what had happened that summer. They wanted her back as a deputy.

THE EAGER SUPPORTER FOR RESULTS. An eager supporter for results in this context knows fairly well how far it is possible for a differently abled person to develop in different areas. From this he acts with results in his mind even if the outer conditions are lousy, economic or bad personnel. Arne tells us:

THE ADMINISTRATOR. The administrator is someone people love to hate. Their activity is often represented as in the caricature above.

But the one who gives an organisation a structure, analyses the organisation, gives an account ofit outwards and inwards, he/she has a key role. The good administrator has to be a good manager, he has to bring in some of the blizzard-methods when there is a risk of stagnation, and he has to be heavily focused on result. He has to play at the three fields above at the same time. Our idol-administrator is a problem -solver,someone who helps us to find practical solutions that are conventionally correct and aim at the future. Arne Svensk:

The quartet - the idol-team. If people like the ones mentioned above could work together and use each others knowledge - can you imagine what kind of activity that would be? Can you see how valuable the differences in their character and competence would be?

The key-words and the key-thoughts of the chapter

    The welfare-competence has to be visualised

    This can only be done by challenging the competence and putting it into motion. Outwards by letting in the outside world in. Inwards by a more heterogeneous personnel.

    Network are needed for renewal and for a dynamic stability. Overlapping fellowship builds up a stability and contributes in breaking isolations.

    Within teams people have to use each others different competence. We introduced four different persons in the chapter: The manager, the blizzard-contractor, the eager supporter for result and the administrator. All equally important.

    The activity also needs pure inspirers and instructors, for example craftsmen, artists, educationists and technicians.

    A breaking that is affecting the differently abled persons and their personnel is going on. The difference between generations is clear. Those who leave school now or who are going to school now have a completely different clearness and joy than what they had only ten years ago.

    You create a different recruiting if you show on the need for creativity, pedagogy, technology and art, and do not talk too much about diseases, buckets and ordering taxi. Also men could be just as interested in welfare work as in media, art and technology. The education has of course to be changed towards the current direction.

Explanation of certain conceptions and technologies

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE(AI) is a knowledge-area that is at least as difficult to define as intelligence itself. AI part itself from natural intelligence by being totally based on technology for calculation- and mind-processes.

AI can simply be defined by what you work with within the area, for example expert-systems, robot-steering, vision (artificial seeing), natural language and speak-recognising, machine-learning, solution of problems and game-programmes.

EXPERT-SYSTEMS are computer-programmes that can recommend decisions or put diagnoses from knowledge stored in the system(you can at the same time store more knowledge).

EXPERT-SYSTEM SVARNE, developed at CERTEC, is a mind-support in violent situations for personnel and differently abled people.

ISAAC is a tool for development, a digital personal assistant you always can carry with you. The hand-carried part and its electronics are placed in a satchel. You can use Isaac partly as an ordinary computer (with touch-screen) and partly as a telephone, camera, GPS and for sending wireless pictures.

CONNECTION-CENTRAL (SUPPORT CENTRE). Through Isaac the user can extend his/hers territories, mentally and geographically. When the Isaac user wants, she can always contact a person she knows. This person is the most important part of the connection-central, which is built upon a computer with special-software and a modem. From the support centre you can communicate about pictures the Isaac-user has sent, questions she has or she can be told where she is etc.

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