Andy Bundy, secretary of the Havant Area Disability Access Group, talks about the effect of closing disabled residential units
With the birthday blues finally out of my system, I want to pick up from last week in considering how care in the community has made the journey from those exciting times back in the 90s, to the rapidly devolving mire that we appear to be left with today.
My first job while in, and after school, was caring for disabled people in a specialist disability residential unit, Corben Lodge, in Portsmouth.
I learned a lot, very quickly, and the early 90s were an exciting time, with community care, the Independent Living Fund and other wonderful things on the horizon.
Our residents could move on, leave what was realistically a closed community, and join the ‘real world’.
For those born with disabilities, this was great. However, both Corben Lodge and its ‘sister home’, John Darling Mall in Eastleigh, are closing soon, leaving a huge gap in what was intended as an integrated strategy of independent living backed by regular respite care.
While most agree money has to be saved, at what cost?
Those of us home-owners, with acquired disabilities, are trapped in our homes, with insufficient capital, space or permission to extend or adapt, and a housing market which is not building to meet our needs.
Neither can we sell, and beg for mercy and social housing, of which little accessible housing stock either remains or is available.
Many people have specialised care needs, which, however willing the minimum-wage, zero-hour contracted care worker, who has just walked five miles to get to you, late, as no travel time is included, is trained to provide in their five days training, and three days of shadowing, are not available.
The latest fad is extra care housing, but this is, by definition, intended for elderly and frail individuals, not those like me still in middle-age.
Now, when my family are ready to strangle me, respite for this 45-year old is in an old-people’s nursing home.
Access to buildings, services and information is incredibly important.
But what about access to the basic rights to live.
As always, if you live in the Havant Borough, and have questions or comments, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or you can leave a message for us on 07518 008 091.
n Havant Area Disability
Access Group: Public Service Plaza, Civic Centre Way, Havant. PO9 2AX