Thursday, 7 July 2011

Care Provision Case Lost

Yesterday’s Suopreme Court finding against a disabled woman’s right to overnight care provision will hit many of us adversely.

Elaine McDonald, a former dancer, had a stroke in 1999 which left her with reduced mobility. Miss McDonald, who has a care package from Kensington and Chelsea (K&C), is asking for over night care to assist with toileting; K&C is offering Miss McDonald incontinent pads and absorbent sheets to meet the need.

K&C maintain the pads and sheets are adequate; that this kind of provision reduces the chance of Miss McDonald hurting herself when using the commode. Oh, and it saves them some £22,000 per annum.

Miss McDonald, who isn’t incontinent, feels that using pads, which can mean the user lying in their own waste overnight, which she considers an “intolerable affront to her dignity”.

Lady Hale alone of the five supreme court justices allowed the appeal, however the other four didn’t, so the case was lost 4-1.

This scares me. On a few occasions I’ve been unable to get from my bed and use the commode; on these occasions I’ve had to remain in my soiled bed for several hours until my PA/carer arrives in the morning. Now when it occurs I ring one or other of my PAs and call them in regardless of time – this means I lose care time later in the week, but needs must.

Interestingly the comments page threw up a range of views and opinions as to the ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ of this case. As to be expected cost features high within these comments; however, the last post raises an interesting point, namely ‘how the Big Society will operate’.

How will this work in relation to personal care provision? Is the use of volunteers in this field feasible? Who will supply training? What about CRB checks; surely we can’t allow complete strangers into the homes of disabled and elderly people without checking their backgrounds.

Who amongst us would relish the idea of a stranger coming into your home? We’re not talking here about a tradesperson coming in to carry out some maintenance work; or a social worker entering our homes to carry out an interview; no, we’re talking about inviting someone into our homes as well as into the most intimate aspects of our lives.

When someone’s cleaning me after I’ve voided my bowels it’s important that s/he is doing so willingly. I also need to feel comfortable with someone who is carrying out this very intimate function. The task needs to be carried out carefully, due to the sensitivity down their, and properly, if not cleaned properly this can lead to discomfort and medical problems.

There is then the issue of unemployed people being forced to take on voluntary work. This is how I see the Big Society playing out. People who can’t secure paid work being forced to take on voluntary work or lose benefits. To me this will create a lot of disgruntled people; people being forced to work for £1.63 an hour will be unwilling participants.

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