At the Learning Disability England conference we talked about why we think there are still so many bad services or people do not get good support or worse are abused.
Fiona Ritchie led that session and more than 100 members were part of it.
Fiona worked with some members to bring together what was said and what we think will help move us further towards equal good lives for everyone
Samantha Jamieson at Sunderland People First has written this blog too about her experiences and solutions.
Bad experiences with any services make me feel powerless, anxious, upset, frustrated and confused.
There are times when I feel like I am being a burden or asking for too much when requesting reasonable adjustments be made for me.
When things go wrong it often causes me to have either a meltdown or shutdown and I struggle to process information or communicate, this can make me feel very self-conscious and I start to apologise repeatedly for either not understanding, not being able to cope or not acting ‘appropriately’.
I quite often end up in tears.
Because of times when things have gone wrong for me in the past I am now very reluctant to use health care services which has resulted in my physical and mental health becoming worse.
People’s attitudes to disabled people are at the root of this
Unfortunately, I think a lot of society see people with disabilities as different or less than which can lead to unfair treatment.
A lack of understanding of a person’s abilities and needs can mean the person is often misunderstood, their feelings are dismissed and their ways of communicating can often be seen as ‘challenging’.
Stereotypes can mean that society sees all disabled people as being the same because of their common disability, rather than seeing them as individuals with differences.
As human beings we are all different, however people sometimes forget or don’t seem to register that this also applies to disabled people…. we are human too.
Also, when staff are not valued this can have a ‘knock on’ effect for the people they are meant to be supporting and caring for.
This can change
A cultural shift that allows society to be more inclusive of everyone’s differences can mean people are valued and supported within the community.
Society/services need to stop ‘othering’ people with a learning disability and autistic people by thinking about and changing the language they use and the way they perceive disability.
If we accept:
One size does not fit all.
Difference is not a bad thing.
If we fund and support everywhere:
Good quality, accessible care within the community.
Funding for self advocacy groups to advise, and help give people a voice and purpose.
Then we will start to get rid of the health inequalities so that people with a learning disability and autistic people stop dying too young.
We will also be further down the track to ending poor support and stop horrific abuses of people’s rights.