Care of Persons With Disabilities in Social Work – is It Possible to Change the Approach From the Client to the Individual?

Vesna Šućur-Janjetović, Andrea Rakanović Radonjić


Social protection of persons with disability represents a topic that requires deep analysis of all significant aspects which include social approach, professional support, as well as the needs and capacities of an individual. This paper includes a theoretical framework for understanding social work models with persons with disability, as well as the underpinning critical social work paradigm. The authors used the above-mentioned theoretical framework to conduct the research and find the answer to the research question. Social workers that participated in this research were hand-picked due to their engagement in the health and social institutions that provide residential social care, and work with clients that are capable of actively participating and making decisions on their own during treatment. The method used for data collection in this research was the focus group method and in depth-interviews as a technic. The research findings presented in this paper indicate that traditional models, medical and social models of social work with persons with disability are being used in practice, with some elements of the third model – the embodiment model. The fourth contemporary model that enables the shift in the social work approach from client to person, using the embodiment model has not been recognized by the social workers that contributed to this research. It is also worth mentioning that the elements of the third and fourth social work models with persons with disability have been present in the social workers’ practice. This topic is very much current and requires attention from the science and practice of social work, facing new challenges and at the same time offering new potential directions for research in this social work field.


persons with disability, critical social work; approaches and models; individual

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