By Neil Crowther
‘It’s not only other people who hold us in our identities. Familiar places and things, beloved object, pets, cherished rituals, one’s own bed or favourite shirt, can and do help us maintain our sense of self. And it is no accident that much of this kind of holding goes on in the place where our families are: at home. The home…is an extension and mirror of the living body in its everyday activity and is thus a materialization of identity…our homes manifest who we are at the same time as they provide the physical scaffolding that supports who we are.’
Quoted from Hilde Lindeman, ‘Holding One Another’ in Eva Feder Kittay & Licia Carlson (Eds.), Cognitive Disability and the Challenge to Moral Philosophy, (Wiley Blackwell 2010) at 163-164.
I came across the quote above in a report by Professor Gerard Quinn on de-institutionalisation in Europe (Get a Life). It sums up in a nutshell the thinking I outlined in ‘Connections, Networks and Supported Decision Making – next steps for independent living‘ – hardly surprising as that post was itself very strongly influenced by Gerard’s work (he is on a years sabbatical to develop this thinking further). I’d strongly strongly commend Chapter 2 of ‘Get a Life’ to people and in particular the sections on ‘honouring personhood and creating the conditions for human flourishing.’ Imagine if our policy making and practices were guided by this thinking? I believe it would be utterly transformative. But it may demand the sort of ‘charismatic change’ Chris Hatton has written about to get there and certainly seems unlikely to materialise within existing paradigms of protectionism, safeguarding and welfare. Can we imagine making this great leap forward?