The event the Choice Hackney organised was a nice friendly environment. The building was very pleasant and the people were very nice. It also helped that the representative from VivasPro had 2 BSL interpreters to assist with communication. There were between 80 to 100 people present and this made for good networking and made raising the profile of Vivas Pro very straight forward.
There were many people with a great variety of disabilities present and also a large number of very diverse support organisations. We met people who were wheelchair bound, others with learning difficulties, and a few who were blind. It was a pleasure to see them and was impressive that they had had the confidence to come.
There were NHS clients at the meeting who were assisted by volunteers. These people definitely need more help but there was deficiency. Some had no care at all and kept saying the same thing that now there seemed to be no money to be spent on care. there no money. Many did not know how to obtain funds and access help it and it was apparent that some staff were in the same position. Some stated that there was often a delay in getting the care they required and others simply gave up trying!
All disability groups are competing for the little funding that is available and are continually being put off by the complexity and often failure of their requests. This has left them feeling, depressed,dejected and disillusioned.
In relation to the deaf community, there are a number of communication issues within the NHS. Often when making appointments staff neglect to book a BSL interpreter. Sometimes new staff do not know how to book interpreting support and ,even if an interpreter has been arranged, they fail to arrive. This problem is intensified at Accident and Emergency when expedience is paramount. This all adds to, what is usually, a very distressing time for deaf patients.
When in hospital patients find there is a large staff turnover. There is also an inconsistency in treatment. This makes patients feel very unsettled as they cannot relate to one individual nurse or doctor. They find that their note are either recorded badly or have been misplaced. If they complain they find that there concerns are simply ignored.
For physically disabled people they find they are not supported around their mobility needs. This includes transport but can be as simple as trying to get the correct walking equipment. Maybe they require a lift or wheelchair ramp, but many who cannot bend down, just need a reaching aid. When they try to get even simple things they get pushed from pillar to post with departments and organisations all abdicating responsibility.
Some would love to be more ambulant, either walking in the park, or by accessing sport activities. Others would like to become more involved in the community by joining social clubs or groups which share their interests. Those in the education arena find they are marginalised and need more support in the classroom. They need to feel more included in all areas of life.
These are all things that are being recommended by the Health Department as it is generally understood that medication is not the only way to improve health and increase everyone’s quality of life.
Social interaction which can take place anywhere, at clubs or maybe spending time with friends and family, is a fundamental human need. Playing games can stimulate the mind and increase their knowledge. Mixing with other disabled people, of which this event is a good example, leads to a shared knowledge and increased awareness of organisations, support, legislation and current issues affecting the diverse disabled community. It can forge new alliances between groups which felt alone therefore giving great political strength to campaign for shared rights.