Call me paranoid, but is it just me that is seeing a pattern of neglect emerging from our government regarding disabled people during this Coronavirus pandemic?
You’ll notice that I’ve covered quite a few issues regarding the Coronavirus pandemic and the governments responses over the past several weeks:
The suggestion that life-saving medical equipment is being ear-marked for those people most likely to survive the Corona virus – those with existing impairments and illnesses having a lesser chance of survival.
The introduction of the Coronavirus Bill which suspends every duty in the Care Act, 2014, including the duty to meet the eligible needs of disabled people (Section 18) and their carers (Section 20).
The abolition of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) following Brexit.
The commitment to cut funding for resourcing learning disability and autism services from 23million per year to zero in 2023-24 as outlines in the Conservative Manifesto.
Well, the government continues its disregard of the needs of disabled people by failing to publish guidance during this current crisis to help those who use direct payments to employ personal assistants (PAs).
This is nearly two weeks after the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) provided advice for the wider social care sector such as service-providers in the residential care, supported living and home care sectors.
Recently, disabled activist Jane Campbell (Baroness Campbell) wrote to care minister Helen Whateley to ask for the government to provide detailed information to assist disabled people with high support needs who employ their own PAs. At the time of writing this Blog she’d not had any response.
In an interview with the Disability News Service (DNS) Baroness Campbell said that she believed disabled employers of PAs would “have to look around and source guidance from here and there” in the absence of government guidance.
“For instance,” she added, “today I was sent a form to order personal protective equipment from my social services department. It’s all a bit piecemeal and certainly not aimed cohesively at the 75,000 disabled people who directly employ their own PAs.
“However, given the situation is so unprecedented, I would suggest disabled people do what they always do so well, and that is help and support one another, by information exchange, peer support and any other tips that will help get us through.”
Fortunately, the Penderel’s Trust, which provides support for about 15,000 users of direct payments in England, has produced its own information, with a “frequently asked questions” document (PDF) and a factsheet (PDF) to help PA employers prepare for a situation in which they or their PA should fall ill or need to self-isolate.
You can also follow Crippen on his own Blog at www.crippencartoons.com