I am Diane French, Director of Operations and Business at Fitzroy and as part of how we work we meet with representatives from those we support in a forum called Nationwide. Our value system is all about ‘seeing the person’ and in the challenging world of social care services at the moment you lose sight of the people at your peril – it is only when we focus on people, that we remember why all the battles; for funding, to meet a mass of regulatory standards, to solve shortages in our workforce, are worth fighting for.
When we asked our recent nationwide forum what they wanted us to have a voice about, it is perhaps sad, that they still feel we need to focus on the basic provision of disabled facilities. One of our members described how on route to the meeting it had taken her support worker, 2 members of the public and a member of staff from the roadside services to jiggle her wheelchair into the disabled toilet. Imagine having to ask for help from 3 strangers just to get into the toilet cubicle! Imagine not knowing when you stop on a journey whether the advertised toilet is going to be suitable for your needs. It shows that too often disabled facilities are a tick box, not something where organisations have really thought about the customer, the person.
It seems such a basic thing. But as Brexit has brought uncertainty around the disability rights enshrined in European law we must be mindful of not losing ground on these basics.
Diane French is Director of Communications and Business Development for Fitzroy