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Charles Henley
Sep 01 2012 10:02 AM Post #7
Location : Home base UK

Paralympics Spin off

The outstanding success of the Paralympics has generated the possibility of a widespread and long overdue change of public attitudes towards people with disabilities.

Crucially, will it also dramatically change the attitudes and insight of the major charitable organisations, the people who currently influence and implement service provision, and the media who half-heartedly float around insular aspects but fail to address the core issues of a fundamentally flawed policy?

People with learning disabilities have all, regardless of levels or complexity of handicap, been facing their own lifetime of ‘going for gold’ assisted too frequently only by the dedication of long suffering parents and carers.

But they have not been told that they are valued people – only that they will become valued people if they can be absorbed into the community and enabled to work and play and learn the values of ordinary people. They have been constantly reminded that that they are inferior and that by associating together they will compound their inferiority. When people with learning disabilities get together they are ‘segregated’ and ‘stigmatization’ follows – or so current policy doctrinaires decree

Inclusion and integration for all are desirable objectives but the Paralympics can only confirm that ordinary people have much to learn from these people and that being ‘segregated’ from the main Olympics has enhanced the quality of their efforts as ‘valued’ people as never before.

Can recognition of the challenges facing these contestants and their responses explode the mythology and false premises that have bedevilled policies concerning provision of support vitally needed to enable the disabled to lead rewarding and fulfilling lives? Can we hope that the success of the Paralympics will filter through; have long lasting benefits; and initiate a return to sanity by restoring appropriate support policies for disabled people and their carers?

All disabled people must be recognised as valued people in their own right. We can learn much from them – not them from us.

For the past quarter of a century policies have been devised and implemented by the wrong people. Could I draw your attention to a new Government e-petition:
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/36834
"Establish a new agency specifically to identify and implement policies appropriate to meet needs of adults with all levels of learning disability"
Responsible department: Department of Health
Charles Henley
Aug 25 2012 11:54 AM Post #6
Location : Homebase UK

The need for wide support for http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/36834
"Establish a new agency specifically to identify and implement policies appropriate to meet needs of adults with all levels of learning disability"
Responsible department: Department of Health
When a quarter of a century ago I predicted to the King’s Fund Centre that the one-size-fits-all policies it was promoting in Project Paper No.50 (1984) could turn the Care in the Community clock back half a century I was told I had no evidence and that its proposals would result in improved funding for better services.
Correspondence with Mencap, 22nd March, 1986 with specific details of the fundamental flaws of KFC Project Paper N0 50 (7 foolscap pages) included the final sentence:
“Beware, lest when being carried along with the wave of enthusiasm for ‘Normalisation’, we throw away resources and opportunities that will set the clock back half a century.
The irony of this situation is that my predictions were not based on pearls of wisdom and vast experience but simply on commonsense, the awareness that people with learning disabilities were not an homogenous body but ‘special’ people each with individuality of personality and widely and diverse needs; and bewilderment at the obviously irrational and fundamentally flawed premises upon the doctrinaires within this KFC publication were based.
Policies do not change overnight – the consequences of the King’s Fund intervention are still in their early stages. It not only set policy in the wrong direction but left policy implementation in the hands of local authorities.
Evidence of the spiral of decline is now abundant: the BBC's Panorama programme Winterbourne View, 31st May 2011, a letter to the Prime Minister from 86 luminaries and organizations concerning the lack of a coherent policy June 2011, Rosa Monckton’s brilliant BBC exposures, the Learning Disability Coalition’s own recent depressing downhill reports, April 2012; the concerns expressed at the Royal College of Nursing convention, May 2012, , and not least the closures of Remploy factories, provide evidence that the current one-size-fits-all ideologies are not fit for purpose. Whilst Mencap continues to support local authorities as main service providers and commissioners so it will remain.
My current prediction is that to continue along the current path will lead to the total disintegration of directly provided services and recourse to privatisation with unskilled staff and the profit motive dominant. Only when services are defined and implemented by professionals and practitioners who are truly committed to the individual needs of carers and their adult children regardless of the severity or mildness of their learning disabilities is there hope that a post code lottery can be avoided.
Please sign up and encourage you family, friends, neighbours and others to support you.
Charles Henley
Aug 23 2012 6:48 AM Post #5
Location : Home Base UK

With the Olympics completed and the Paralympics looming is this not a good time to reflect on the challenges that disabled people face on a daily basis and how important it is that they are given every opportunity to meet their own goals?
Their success is not measured in gold medals but in the satisfaction of personal achievement towards independent living and life fulfilment that can sometimes only be achieved with appropriate and adequate support.
This week it has been forcibly drawn to my attention that the value of structured and specialist services in the form of progressive day centres has still not been fully recognised. I would like to share a little of my past experience with you as I believe there are many lessons yet to be learnt.
Last week I received a photograph from a very proud parent showing his son, Lawrence, carrying the Olympic torch through Hastings and St. Leonard’s. His son is brain damaged and in his earlier formative years attended my day centre.
With tremendous and positive support for the Centre from his father, he went on to achieve many things. He has been enabled to undertake paid part time jobs, make parachute jumps, and encourage other members, male and female, at the Centre to take up marathon running. Lawrence and his friends have run the London Marathon and others across the world, including New York.
Extract from local press:
“In Norway Lawrence became a hero when one of his friends had an epileptic fit halfway through the Oslo marathon. Lawrence stopped running, put him in the recovery position, ensured he had not swallowed his tongue and then ran for the paramedics. He carried on running and was the last one in. Everyone in the stadium stayed there to wait for him and give him a rapturous round of applause”.
It is many years since I left the Hastings Centre but his father keeps in touch because he generously gives the Centre the credit for much of Lawrence’s eventual fulfilling and successful life.
I personally give his father the credit for not only so ably supporting his son and the Centre but for his determination that all other people at the Centre regardless of severity of disability should have equally rewarding opportunities to meet their personal goals. This father went tirelessly on to raise tens of thousands of pounds to provide equipment for the Centre and raise its image to good advantage within the local business community and the public at large..
At the end of the day I think the moral here is that if parents and staff at Centres can work together for the common good so much more could be achieved than by going it alone. Not only is Lawrence my hero, but so is his dad. It gives me a great deal of humble satisfaction to know my efforts have at least not been entirely in vain.

Ps. Lawrence has not attended the Centre for years but he still makes personal visits because he says that is where his real friends are.
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