INQUIRY EXPOSES SECOND-CLASS CARE FOR DISABLED PEOPLE
Press Release from John Grooms
Out-of-date information means that disabled people are getting a raw deal, according to the first major inquiry into the current and future needs of people with disabilities. The inquiry report published today (Tuesday 3 June) shows that we do not know enough about the modern disabled population, resulting in poorly planned, inadequate and inappropriate care, housing and health services for many disabled people.
The disability charity John Grooms, which organised the two-year inquiry, is calling for this information gap to be plugged as a matter of urgency as a first step towards better services in the future.
This move comes in the European Year for Disabled People (2003), which aims to put the needs and rights of people with disabilities centre-stage. At least 20 per cent of the British population have a disability.
Baroness Howarth of Breckland OBE, who headed the John Grooms Inquiry, said: 'The inquiry found that care for disabled people is a postcode lottery .Disabled people are too often forced to put up with second-class and inappropriate housing, care and health services.
"Decades of unco-ordinated planning based on out-of-date information is to blame. To build a future fit for disabled people, policy-makers and service-providers at all levels must pull together like never before and listen to disabled people."
The report found that the problems are most acute in the area of housing, where there is insufficient accommodation that meets the needs of disabled people. A 2001 John Grooms survey of new tenants showed that almost seven in ten had been living in an unsuitable home for more than three years and half were forced to depend on others to help with their care because of inappropriate housing.
The report shows that there are now more disabled people than ever before and that these numbers will continue to increase. It argues that the growing disabled population should be able to live their lives with the dignity, choice and independence that all members of society expect.
John Grooms Executive Director Mike Shaw said: "We fear that the life chances of too many disabled people are being restricted by inadequate and inappropriate housing and care. This presents a challenge to policy-makers and service-providers to unite and build a coherent network of life-long support that gives disabled people the chance to realise their rights."
The report found that:
• Policy initiatives are being undermined by patchy and unreliable data.
• Care services for disabled people are poorly co-ordinated and inflexible.
• Disabled people often cannot secure the care they want when they need it.
• Serious service shortages exist, particularly in the area of housing.
• Services are understaffed and care professionals often lack adequate training.
• Families are often separated due to a lack of adequate care or housing provision.
• Disabled people are routinely excluded from making decisions about their lives.
The report concluded that no one agency or government is to blame. It applauds the ideals of community care and social inclusion that direct the present Government's strategy for service development, but warns that there are still too many opportunities being missed.
The report proposes that the Government should help build a more coherent support network for disabled people and recommends that:
• Reliable and up-to-date information about the disabled population must be collected and the data managed effectively.
• Services for disabled people must be a budgetary priority for all levels of government.
• Training must be given to nursing and care staff and the status of disability workers must be raised.
• All disabled people should be appropriately housed, which means considerable investment.
• Disabled people must be involved and heard, and improvements in consultation must be made.
The John Grooms Inquiry took evidence from around 50 stakeholders from the public and voluntary sectors, and consulted with disabled people and disability groups across the country.
• Dennis was born without sight and now has multiple sclerosis. He only needs the minimum of help to be independent, but problems with housing are holding him back. "I am resigned to waiting for all the agents involved to get their acts together," he told the inquiry. "No-one seems to know what to. do with me."
• Michael has been disabled all his life. He is used to the hospital routine, but is terribly frustrated by inadequate health care. "I regret to say that even a seemingly straightforward task such as dealing with continence appeared to present problems," he told the inquiry. "I was regularly left to suffer the discomfort and inconvenience of a wet bed."
• Wheelchair user Zooful got engaged two years ago. But she was recently moved to a care home an hour's drive from her fiancee, and neither of them can use public transport because of access difficulties. "We are drifting apart," she told the inquiry. "Is there any way I can see him more often?"
• Matthew had a brain haemorrhage ten years ago at the age of 23. But he is still dependent on his father because there is nowhere for him to go other than an old people's home. "I still cannot believe that this was the truth -that there was nothing for a 23 year old," Mathew's father told the inquiry.
The 110 page report will be launched today (Tuesday 3 June) at a Westminster event hosted by Anne Begg MP and Lord Ashley of Stoke.
In Parliament, Anne Begg MP has sponsored an Early Day Motion supporting the findings and recommendations of the report. Ms Begg said: "It is vital that this important, thought-provoking report does not sit on the shelves of policy-makers and gather dust. It should be a spur to action for everyone concerned with future policy development and service delivery for disabled people."
Sir George said that he had enjoyed working with John Grooms when he was a Housing Minister, and supported their current campaign 100%