Friday, 7 June 2013

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Over two years ago Broken Of Britain were asking for people to comment on their blog – it may have been in relation to the now infamous consultation aka government whitewash ahead of reforming Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

If I am recalling it correctly I took one of the questions from the consultation and submitted my answer to the Broken Of Britain blog which they liked and used on their blog.

This was the question I picked and (roughly) the answer I gave:

The Question: “How do we prioritise support to those people least able to live full and active lives? Which activities are most essential for everyday life?”

My answer: 

“Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a good starting point:

At the bottom of the hierarchy it’s essential to meet the basic needs such as food, warmth (disabled people are often more inactive and are more likely to be spending long amounts of time at home and therefore are going to incur more heating costs), and shelter (housing needs must be met and adapted).

 This would also include things like toilet needs/access to toilets – this is important when disabled people are out.  If there are no toilets nearby or easily accessible, this can prevent or ruin an outing.  It would also include things like eg being able to bathe and wash hair.

Moving up the hierarchy after the basic needs are met, come things like protection, security and stability. This is where legislation would be made to protect vulnerable people.  Health protection would be another example eg being able to access doctors and dentists, and being able to have free prescriptions and support when having routine medical procedures.  
It’s only when the essential needs are met that a person, disabled or otherwise, can try and engage with the wider society eg being able to participate in social activities without it being assumed that a person is able to work. Both work and social activities can take it out of the disabled and vulnerable but social life can be tailored to an individual’s needs without being pressured by government departments.  An allowance could be the difference between a disabled person participating or not eg an allowance can help with transport or the accompaniment of another person.

Being able to particpate in creative activities can lift the spirits and feelings of well-being of a disabled person, providing fulfillment and a sense of worth in the way some work can do. Again this can be tailored to an individual’s needs without being pressured by government departments. An allowance could be the difference between a disabled person participating or not eg an allowance can help with transport or the accompaniment of another person.  

Feelings of achievement, self-worth and fulfillment can only be achieved when the essential needs are met.”

So in a nutshell, Maslow's theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will be able to focus on the secondary or higher level needs.

You can learn more about Maslow's theory on Google but here I will summarize from a Wiki source.

Basically, physiological needs are the physical requirements for human survival. If these requirements are not met, the human body cannot function properly, and will ultimately fail. Air, water, and food are requirements for survival in all animals, including humans. Clothing and shelter provide necessary protection from the elements.

With their physical needs relatively satisfied, the individual's safety needs take precedence and dominate Safety and Security needs include, personal and financial security, health and well-being
According to Maslow, humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance among their social groups, regardless if these groups are large or small. For example, some large social groups may include clubs, co-workers, religious groups, professional organizations, sports teams etc. Some examples of small social connections include family members, relationships, colleagues, and peer groups.

All humans have a need to feel respected; this includes the need to have self-esteem and self-respect and to be accepted and valued by others. People often engage in a profession or hobby to gain recognition. These activities give the person a sense of contribution or value. Maslow distinguished between two versions of esteem needs: a "lower" version and a "higher" version. The "lower" version of esteem is the need for respect from others. This may include a need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention. The "higher" version manifests itself as the need for self-respect. For example, the person may have a need for strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence, and freedom. This "higher" version takes precedence over the "lower" version because it relies on an inner competence established through experience.
Maslow states that while he originally thought the needs of humans had strict guidelines, the "hierarchies are interrelated rather than sharply separated”. This means that esteem and the subsequent levels are not strictly separated; instead, the levels are closely related.

At the top of the hierarchy is self-actualization. "What a man can be, he must be.” This quotation forms the basis of the perceived need for self-actualization. This level of need refers to what a person's full potential is and the realization of that potential. Maslow describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be. Individuals may perceive or focus on this need very specifically. For example, one individual may have the strong desire to become an ideal parent. In another, the desire may be expressed athletically. For others, it may be expressed in paintings, pictures, or inventions. As previously mentioned, Maslow believed that to understand this level of need, the person must not only achieve the previous needs, but master them.”