Rehabilitation Services in the United Arab Emirates as Perceived by Parents of Children with Disabilities

By Dukmak, Samir | The Journal of Rehabilitation, October-December 2009 | Go to article overview

Rehabilitation Services in the United Arab Emirates as Perceived by Parents of Children with Disabilities


Dukmak, Samir, The Journal of Rehabilitation


Parents of children with disabilities need correct information about, and access to, rehabilitation services and providers in order for their children to achieve improved quality of life and independent living (Kusciulek, 1999; Rubin, Chan,& Thomas, 2003). By addressing a lack of research on the provision of rehabilitation services and associated problems in the UAE, this study provides rehabilitation service providers and other professionals with information to improve both the process of providing services and the problems parents perceive in accessing those services. This should ultimately lead to improvement in the delivery of rehabilitation services in the UAE.

The Importance of Rehabilitation Services Provision

Individuals with disabilities should receive rehabilitation services that will allow them the greatest capacity to live independently. Previous research (Kuseiulek, 1999; Rubin, Chan, & Thomas, 2003) indicated that individuals with disabilities who receive rehabilitation services experience an improved quality of life, provided these services are effective and satisfying (Kim, White & Fox, 2006; Richard, 2000). Preceding research (Chan, McMahon, Koch, & Strauser, 1997) concluded that strong working relationships between rehabilitation counselors and parents of individuals with disabilities result in more positive rehabilitation outcomes and higher levels of satisfaction among parents.

Effectiveness of Rehabilitation Services and their Delivery

There are several types of rehabilitation services, including physical, occupational, educational, social, psychological and vocational services (Santana & Santana, 2001). In developed countries, these services are more organized than they are in developing countries (Brown, 1991). According to Ting and Fitzgerald (1996), these services should be made more accessible to consumers, and be delivered directly to the consumers' place in the community. Rehabilitation services should be delivered by governmental and non-governmental organizations via clear and effective delivery systems. Providers should offer reliable rehabilitation services (Racino & Williams, 1994) and insure a maximum range of service options that reflect consumer's preferences, as well as provide clear and easily-understood information about service options (National Institute on Consumer-Directed Long-Term Services, 1996). A prerequisite is that rehabilitation service providers must first recognize the diverse needs of consumers and the heterogeneous nature of the rehabilitation market (Smith, 1956).

Providers of Rehabilitation Services

Determining who is responsible for identifying the needed rehabilitation services and their providers is frequently a challenge. Davis and Littlejohn (1999) reported that no single agency can handle the increasingly complex needs of individuals with disabilities. Parents of these individuals, and professionals working with them, play vital roles in the rehabilitation process. For example, Freedman and Fes (1996) stated that both the providers of rehabilitation services and policy planners appreciate the value of including parents in the rehabilitation process. Ting and Fitzgerald (1996) confirmed that the contributions of rehabilitation professionals are very important in providing information regarding rehabilitation services and who should provide them.

In the rehabilitation process, there is a major and growing need for coordination of services, resources, program sharing, new patterns of inter-agency collaboration and cooperative services. This involves not only schools but also mental health, welfare and health agencies. Often, coordination and cooperation is more effective at the "grassroots" level, with the assistance and involvement of citizens, parents and professionals. According to Neville (2000), there should be a commitment to utilize the community's resources in collaboration with other professionals, agencies and parents, to achieve optimal accessibility, appropriateness and quality of rehabilitation services, and to advocate especially for those who lack access because of social or economic conditions or special health care needs. …

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