I have had a busy summer and had little time to read up on what’s been going on in the wider world of social care, but here are two recent examples that have highlighted very different aspects of human rights for people with disabilities.
This article went under the radar of mainstream press, but represents a very important issue. On the surface it’s about gaining sex education which is a very important issue for me, and I have been writing some guidance around that myself very recently.
In short a couple want to have children, but as the man involved has a learning disability and is therefore technically vulnerable and somehow inherently at risk in having children he must gain education around this, which is was very willing to participate in and successfully sued his local authority around taking too long to support him with this. Read the article for a more in depth explanation. What’s really important here for me is that in my work we put great effort into offering choice and supporting people to understand their choices, this I see as a basic right for people. But this was a case where bureaucracy seemed to do everything to get in the way of this man (couple) having choice, he argued this and won. It’s definitely an important precedent and this case will unquestionably impact on disability practice and law in the future.
Consent has been a huge issue recently, we must assume people are able to consent first of all, but this feels like a case where a person was actively prevented from following their choice. Protection is important and helping someone make an informed choice is important but never at the expense of their basic human rights.
This article has gotten quite a bit more attention, largely due to it coming from the findings of a United Nations report. What the report states in brief is basically that the UK government is failing people with disabilities.
“Its report concludes that the UK has not done enough to ensure the convention – which enshrines the rights of disabled people to live independently, to work and to enjoy social protection without discrimination – is reflected in UK law and policy.”
That says it all really, the UN has spoken. Does this mean the government has to change anything? No, but it does make the UK look like a country that disregards its vulnerable citizens. These failings have been largely due to money, the post-recession austerity cuts have directly targeted the vulnerable, the beneficiaries, and those in need of support. People in health and social care, people with disabilities of any sort and many others have known this for a long time so it does feel like a vindication for those who have suffered. Whether or not this turns into any action is yet to be seen. I shall be following this closely as will many others.