SRV study tip #5

Continuing with our most recent series of posts on learning about SRV through the PASSING manual and workshop, I want to take a brief look at the glossary section of the 2007 manual (pp. 29-40). That might sound a little boring but the glossary encapsulates some dynamite ideas, ideas that can help us learn about the power of SRV to help bring about positive change for socially devalued people. For example, reflect on the definition and description of purview on pg. 36. Purview is described briefly as:

“The scope or limit of influence, authority, competence, responsibility, or concern in recipients’ lives that would generally be perceived as the appropriate and/or properly delegated one for a particular service or server.”

Regarding the breadth of purview and different human service models and organizations, Wolfensberger and Thomas affirm that:

“Certain kinds of services have, by their very nature, a broad purview to both address recipient needs, and to pursue the address of certain such needs by other parties.”

This is such a powerful concept and can help service workers/services come to a clearer understanding of their mission: what should we focus on? what is outside our mission? Consider for example what is the purview of a residential service? medical service? school or classroom? employment services? and so on.

Purview is a fundamental part of human service, yet when ignored or misunderstood, problems will likely be created and/or exacerbated for recipients of human services. For example:

• A service with a legitimately wide purview (e.g., a residential service) may de facto ignore the scope of its responsibility, thus leaving pressing needs unacknowledged and/or unaddressed.

• A service with a relatively narrow purview (e.g., a recreational service) or a time-limited purview (e.g., a medical service) may unnaturally expand their purview, thus potentially causing further wounding and devaluation (e.g., casting a devalued person into the role of child or patient). Such expansion may be rooted in a particular mindset about the people served or a negative stereotypes about the people served. Often such expansion is driven by non-programmatic considerations and factors.

Fundamental questions for services and service workers to ask themselves include: What is our legitimate purview? Where are its boundaries? How will we fulfill our responsibility without overstepping these boundaries? This examination of purview can often raise difficult questions, e.g., service workers identifying a real need of people served, yet the need is one that lies outside of their purview as a service. What to do then? Ignoring the need is not helpful; however, a good understanding of purview might call for advocating with others (e.g., family, friends, a valued community resource, another human service, etc.) whose purview would include addressing that particular need. There may be other valid options as well.

These are just a few initial reflections on purview within an SRV and PASSING context. As always, I welcome other relevant thoughts, examples and comments on this topic.





In the last post about studying SRV and PASSING, we looked at the image (1) and competency (2) enhancement subscores in the PASSING tool, under the subheadings of setting (1), grouping (2), activities (3), and miscellaneous (4).

PASSING has 42 ratings. 27 ratings are related to image enhancement; 15 are related to competency enhancement. Almost twice as many ratings deal with image enhancement.

17 ratings address image and competency issues around the physical setting of a service (point range: -329 to +329).

13 ratings address image and competency issues around service-structured groupings, relationships and social juxtapositions (point range: -369 to +369).

6 ratings address image and competency enhancement around service-structured activities and use of time (point range: -188 to +188).

6 ratings address miscellaneous image related service practices (point range: -114 to +114).


What might we learn from these numbers? About 70% of the PASSING ratings, both in number and in point range, deal with service physical setting and with service structured grouping, relationships and juxtapositions. Why are these two domains given so much weight and emphasis? What is this telling us about what services could do to support devalued people in valued roles? A fundamental priority for services is to carefully structure both the setting and the groupings/social juxtapositions in relevant and potent ways which support vulnerable people to have and hold onto valued social roles.

Consider your own life for a minute: think about the power of setting to communicate social roles; think about the ‘company we keep’ and the power of relationship to communicate roles. Yet where do so many human services put their energy, time and attention?

Also, if we are teaching others about SRV and PASSING, or are trying to implement SRV, do we pay enough attention to setting and grouping considerations?

Posted on January 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm by MTumeinski · Permalink
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: , , , ,

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