LETTER: Isolation of elderly and disabled

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The 2007 UN Convention of Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities was the first legally binding agreement that set out the rights of disabled people around the world.

The UK became a signatory to the convention in 2009. For UK purposes disabled people are those listed under the DDA which include not only those with a physical disability, but those with a sensory disability and long term conditions. Here below are parts of Articles 19 for us to consider how well Horsham District is doing in implementing them.

Article 19- Living independently and being included in the community

a) Persons with a disability have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement.

b) Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-home, residential andother community support services, including personal assistance necessary to living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community. c) Community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs.

Horsham District is a locality with many communities large and small. The largest being Horsham town. The communities are mostly old and well established and have evolved over the years. However in recent times new communities have been built within or onto old communities, especially in Horsham Town.

There does seem a good choice of residential housing/care homes, though in house services in peoples own homes, to enable disabled/elderly people with their independent living has not kept pace with demand.

This may be one reason why so many disabled people are in expensive residential accommodation instead of in their own homes. In addition, support services such as community and day centres, have been closed, making for isolation, for many elderly and disabled. Communities need to be diverse and of mixed ages to be healthy and sustainable. The disabled, elderly, and frail should not be coursed or herded into segregated areas of the community or into care institution, just because it meets a corporate business plan. If there is a need for a person to be in residential care then it should be their choice where this should be, and they should always be able to access residential care in their own community, so that they can still be pat of and supported by that community.

Of course, investment is essential; sometimes you have to invest first to save money later. If other localities in West Sussex do similar, and we stopped robbing one community to provide care in another, which will only cause differences between communities. We will then have firm foundations to build on.

These are Human Rights that we all should support for in doing so it will improve health services for every one.

Lilian Bold

Retired EHRC Union Representative

Hillside, Horsham