Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I don't want to live in Worcestershire

I'm sure it's a perfectly nice place,  Beautiful landscape, probably very nice people.  But not a good place to be if you're disabled.

The County Council there is proposing to limit the amount it will pay on social care for disabled people to a maximum of what it will pay for residential care - currently estimated at £411 a week.  What this means in practice (assuming the proposals go through) is that many of the new people coming into adult social care, or  existing people with a disability whose circumstances change at all, will no longer be able to live independently.  They will either have to go into residential care or find a 'free' way of filling the care gap - family carers doing it for nothing again or going without important items of care.  And the more disabled you are, the less likely it is that you will be able to live independently.  Certainly my own son would not have been able to live 'in the community' on this.

My thanks to the person who flagged this up to me in his comment to my last post, and to the various people who are publicising this invidious proposal - Sue Marsh in the Guardian , Mithran Samuel in Community Care and Lucy Series in her The Small Places blog .  To its (slight) credit, Worcestershire County Council has spelt out it's policy in Easy Read form so that people with a learning disability might have a chance of seeing how it intends to cut their services - if they can find it on their very complicated website.

If Worcestershire get away with this, other Social Services Departments will quickly follow on.  Tell your disabled friends and their carers that - you don't want to live in Worcestershire, and why.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Life blood money

So here come the Paralympics.  And that's good.

But look a bit carefully at who's riding the bandwagon.  One of their major sponsors is ATOS.  Remember the name?  The company that has the DWP multi million pound contract for cutting down the number of people able to claim disability benefits.  The company that loses over a third of appeals against it's recommendations.  The company that Panorama exposed a few weeks ago for it's inhuman treatment of classifying disabled people as 'fit for work' when they were in fact terminally ill and definitely disabled.  Whose own medical people described the assessment process as 'toxic'.

ATOS has also provided the IT systems for the Olympics, but for it's disability assessment clients - 'computer says no' is routine.

This is not just negative rhetoric.  One local charity I'm involved with, conservatively estimates that 15% to 20% of the learning disabled people it currently supports will lose all their DLA mobility allowance when they are reassessed to go onto Personal Independence Payments (PIP) - £70 a week each - and all of the rest will lose some of their benefits.

Cheer on the athletes.  But don't let ATOS get the PR benefit they think they're paying for.  Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are co-ordinating protest action against ATOS at the Paralympics and they need your support - see them at http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/07/our-atos-games/

If you can't take part in the Paralympics, you can take part in stopping this money grubbing multinational using our Games for their PR.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Special Olympics in Paralympic Games

Special Olympics operates all the time and is aimed at building the self confidence of people with a learning disability.  For the first time in 12 years, people with a learning disability are being allowed to compete as part of the Paralympic Games next week.  The learning disability events were dropped from the Games 12 years ago when a Spanish basketball team was suspected of faking learning disability to win in the Paralympics.  There's an article in the Guardian at http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/24/learning-disabled-athletes-olympics

This is something positive about learning - and other disabilities.  They need your support and their profile raised.  Watch them and talk about it.  I will be.  It's only a little thing but every little helps.  If you, or a learning disabled person you care for is interested, contact Special Olympics even after the Olympics are over - they operate all the time.

Best wishes to all our learning disabled - and people with other disabilities - for the Paralympic Games.  Go for it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Emma Stones

Just a short post in memory of Emma Stones who died of septicaemia and "inadequate care" in hospital recently.  Hospital isn't a good place for people with disabilities, particularly for children and the vulnerable.  Unfortunately it's what we've got.  The one good thing in this is that the hospital in question accepts its failure and seems willing to do something about it.

It shouldn't take a death for this to happen - and it's little consolation to her family.  My condolences.

BBC article on this at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-19151918

It's all in the numbers

After much cajoling and threatening, we've eventually been told the number of people in our area who have a learning disability and the number who receive a service.  It works out at one in five - the rest are 'not known to Social Services.  I thought there must be some mistake, so went back and checked - had they included all the people they funded through other organizations, Direct Payments, etc. etc..  And yes they had.

What I found as worrying was the lack of concern about this.  Quote, they will mainly be people with a mild learning disability who don't need any service, and even people with 'moderate' needs no longer qualify for a service under the latest local cuts.  So, not a problem then!

Yes it is a problem then.

These are people, probably living with parents at home, who have a real disability.  They need help and it should be available.  And if it isn't, that's a problem.  How disabled do you need to be to need help?  These people haven't even been assessed (but maybe that's one other stress they're better without) so how do they know?

I'm told by Social Services that this level is about average nationally.  I don't know how true that is.  My main concern has been people with a profound disability and complex care needs - our son was in the 'critical' category, so wouldn't have been directly affected by this.  But there's only 'substantial' in between 'moderate' and 'critical', and some councils have already tried to limit care for 'substantial'.  Accepting these situations is what makes cutting services for everyone easier - we've certainly been told in the past to think ourselves lucky - if he'd been less disabled we'd have got nothing.  What sort of logic is that?  No one is lucky to be disabled.

For anyone interested, the total number with a learning disability comes from the Joint Strategic needs Assessment and is based on research, much of which is done by Prof. Emerson and friends at Lancaster and other Universities.