IL Newsletter, 21st November


Hello and welcome to the latest newsletter from Independent Living.

Contents:

1. Worried about Anti-Disability Rhetoric
2. Pat's Petition
3. Design Failing on Accessibility
4. Sling Safety - Pressure Care
5. Latest Bathroom Developments
6. Latest Updates

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1. Worried about Anti-Disability Rhetoric

There seems to be a lot to worry about at the moment, and I sometimes think that we're slipping into a habit of negativity which is guaranteed to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nevertheless, some things are worth exercising concern over, and one of them inspired last week's blog, Parents "Using" Disabled Children to Beat Planning Law. To me, this story appears to demonstrate a general shift in opinion about people with disabilities which I find disturbing. I would be really interested to hear your views, whether you agree with me or not!



Fairness is a fundamental value of British society, I think we would all agree, and it becomes even more important at times like this, when resources are limited. Understandably, people want to be sure that others aren't getting more than they are entitled to, but when we let that instinct for fair play slip into hostility towards those who really do need more help, then this country becomes a much less civilised place, and we are all the poorer for it.



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2. Pat's Petition

While we are still thinking about fairness, and ensuring that those in most need get the appropriate resources, Pat's Petition is calling on government to review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on people with disabilities, carers and families.



You can sign the petition here. If you haven't signed an e-petition before, it is quick and easy, and any petition with 100,000 signatures has to be considered for debate in Parliament. Last time I checked, there were 4700-odd signatures, so there is a way to go yet. With an estimated 6 million carers in Britain, never mind all those personally affected by a disability, 100,000 signatures should be a snap. Of course, people in this situation are very often short on time and energy, so if you believe more thought should be given to welfare reform rather than pushing through changes that affect vulnerable people disproportionately, please sign - even if you aren't personally affected at the present time.



One aspect of the reform that caused a major outcry earlier in the year was the proposal to withdraw DLA mobility payments from people living in residential care. The independent Low Report has now delivered its findings. There was no evidence of people benefitting from a double contribution to their personal mobility needs (from DLA Mobility and the local authority), and they recommended that when PIP (Personal Independence Payment) replaces DLA, people living in state-funded residential care should receive the mobility component on the same basis as those receiving care in their own home.



You can access information for carers here, and read more about the Low Report findings here.




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3. Design Failing on Accessibility

You would be forgiven for assuming, so many years after disability discrimination legislation first came into force, that architects, engineers and product designers would have accessibility somewhere near the forefront of their minds when working on a new project. This doesn't seem to be the case, if some recent anecdotes are typical.



A manufacturer of evacuation equipment visited three newly built academic facilities recently, and found that none of them had large enough landings on their fire escapes to allow the equipment to turn and continue the descent with a wheelchair user in their chair. Means of escape in case of fire or other emergency must include everyone who needs to get out, not just those who can walk. I can understand that it may be very hard to adapt an existing building in some circumstances, but surely it isn't such a challenge to get a new one right?


And then there is the infamous new railway bridge at Bearsted station in Kent which is unusable in a wheelchair. Passengers wishing to cross the track have to travel first to a station further up or down the line, where there are accessible facilities. Network Rail argued that there weren't enough users to justify the cost, and that they could always come back and add lifts in the future, anyway. If you are one of the "too few" wheelchair-using passengers, then your thoughts about railway travel, as you are obliged to extend your journey with a detour to a more user-friendly station, will no doubt be less than charitable. Anyone trying to cross with a baby in a buggy or heavy luggage is also, apparently, less valuable as a passenger than one without encumbrances.




As always, I would love to know your thoughts on this. Is it justifiable to ignore the needs of a particular group of people on cost grounds? If you are a design professional, how do you ensure that your product/building can be used by everybody? The Independent Living forum is the place for debate!

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4. Sling Safety - Pressure Care

It is a year now since I wrote a blog about safe use of slings, particularly in care homes, and it is, I suppose, a mark of a controversial topic that comments are still being added by readers 12 months down the line.



The one consistent factor to emerge is a lack of consensus; there are no simple answers here, and while many attested to the discomfort of leaving a sling in situ during the day, others highlighted the distress caused by having a sling put on and taken off several times. Equally, the type of sling employed makes a difference (some are designed to be left in place on the chair), and the nature of the seating also plays its part, with moulded seats tending to make the client hotter and more prone to perspire, which can increase the risk of pressure damage.


Training for anyone using slings is clearly essential, but also often not happening as it should. Family carers in particular, are frequently left with little or no instruction. If you would like to read the debate and add your own thoughts, this is the link. For information about an extensive range of hoists, slings, and other handling aids, visit the IL moving and handling section



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5. Latest Bathroom Developments

An accessible bathroom is probably the single most important contribution to living independently despite impaired mobility. Our bathroom area on Independent Living is certainly one of the most regularly visited.


A new showcase page there for PROCare includes information about an extensive range to assist with bathing, showering and using the toilet in safety. As well as wet floor showers and enclosures, PROCare supplies a really quiet and efficient waste pump, to deal with water from the shower where conventional drainage is not possible. Digitally controlled, with a built-in detector for blockages, the pump has a space-saving two-part design, and works with both mixer-type and electric shower installations. PROCare have also turned their attention to the humble shower curtain, double weighting the hem to help prevent it clinging while you are showering, and incorporating antibacterial and antifungal properties. The company manufactures custom-fitted curtains, including one that is suitable for use with ceiling track hoists.




Visit PROCare's showcase page for information across their range, and access our bathroom section here




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6. Latest updates

Tell Us Once is the DWP's new initiative to make it less onerous to notify the powers that be of a death. One visit to a registrar replaces up to 28 different notifications, as the DWP works with local authorities around the country, to save money and a lot of additional grief for the recently bereaved.

Anyone with a complex medication regime and impaired hearing could benefit from the latest development from Pivotell. The Pivotell Pager has a built-in transmitter which triggers an alarm –vibration, sound or flashing light – on any Bellman Visit 868 System receiver when it is time for a dose. The range of receivers includes one worn on the wrist, like a watch. You can read more here.

I hope you've enjoyed reading our latest newsletter. Don't forget you can access all the news as soon as it is uploaded in our News Centre

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Until next time, all good wishes,

Frances

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Comments

This comment sent via e-mail by Mike:

Thank you for your latest newsletter in which I read about what seems to be an ever increasing ‘anti’ towards disability. Five or more years ago I don’t think the general public or the press would have been that interested in how much a disabled person received in Disability Living Allowance or any other benefit they were genuinely awarded. However, the Daily Mail certainly seems to be doing its share of fanning the flames and causing unnecessary bad feeling towards those of us who are disabled by way of birth, ill health or by trauma. We and our carers certainly did not volunteer for it nor the ongoing pain and suffering so often associated with a long-term disability.

Since becoming a full-time wheelchair user and having to retire early due to ill health, you quickly realise that everything you need from that point onwards does not come ‘free’ and is always hellishly expensive. When advised to apply for Disability Living Allowance, which in my case was supported by both GP and Consultant, it was not an easy process and still required a second application. So I don’t know where the press and others get the idea that its ‘easy’ or everything is ‘free’?

The Governments desire to reduce its expenditure on benefits is without doubt causing the biggest draught in this wildfire, but what is very worrying is the ‘anti’ feeling that is being created by all this in everyday life. During 2008 I became a victim of what was believed to have been a disability hate crime by a local builder, I answered our doorbell and was forcefully pushed against the wall inside our hall and received strong verbal abuse about my disability. Unfortunately, because there was no independent witness at that time the offender got off with just a written Police warning. It’s an incident I have never forgotten and this ‘anti’ towards disability does not help ones feelings at all.