Disabled Access Day: “Disabilities aren’t always things you can see”
Saturday, March 12th, 2016 | Blog
“Disabled access has always been about helping people with physical disabilities overcome the problems they encounter everyday – from visiting their GP to getting on a bus”, says Kare Plus West Midlands’ Registered Care Manager, Angie Mason, “but disabilities are so much more than that”.
This Disabled Access Day we want to promote helping people with both of physical and mental disabilities try things they haven’t done before. This could be from the aforementioned getting on a bus in a wheelchair, right through to autistic football fans coping at a football match when their team begins to lose. Easy everyday tasks to you and I, but a minefield of challenges, unknown territories and potential embarrassment for those with disabilities.
“Disabled access needs to include better education to help people understand the needs those with mental disabilities have. After all, a disability isn’t always something people can see, and we need to make that clear”, Angie explains.
“I’ve heard stories of mentally disabled football fans being turned away from grounds because they have made people feel uncomfortable. When really, I’m sure if the other fans knew more about their disability, they would understand and the sufferer would still have access to his beloved football ground”, Angie’s colleague, Kare Plus Supported Living Manager, Emma McFeely recalls.
“Even right now, we care for girls with Autism that like to go out shopping, get their nails done at salons and eat out at restaurants, but these busy everyday environments can’t accommodate their needs, yet they will be fully wheelchair accessible”, continues Angie.
“What shopping centres and other busy places need to do is collectively set aside even just half a day a month for both mentally and physically disabled people to enjoy their services. During these times the music can be turned down slightly, the heating can be cooler and, naturally, the crowds will be smaller; a far better environment for those with autism and other learning difficulties to shop and have a day out.
“It may sound like a lot to ask, but those in our line of work would know about these days and be really eager to utilise them – businesses wouldn’t lose custom, that’s certain”.
Between them, Emma and Angie have worked in the care industry for over 30 years and are now in charge of looking after some of Kare Plus’ most vulnerable people and their concern for the provisions available to those with mental disabilities is clearly at the forefront of their agenda.
They’re both really eager to see large corporations take the lead with disabled access, taking some of the pressure off local councils with small budgets to play with: “We need to see more of the council’s budget allocated to the time carers have with patients. If this happens it will help improve their emotional wellbeing, which in turn will help improve their physical wellbeing.
“As a result of this, they will be able to go out more and spend time at football games, cooking meals for housemates and taking care of money – all of which will benefit the local shops and communities.
“But if these hospitality and retail establishments took it upon themselves to make suitable changes that encouraged mentally disabled to visit as well, the level of mentally disabled access and understanding would be marvellous and begin to come up to speed with the ever-improving physically disabled access. Things like virtual tours online would be amazing to help prepare them for what they are going to experience and help get them accessing more experiences”.
We’re proud to support Disabled Access Day here at Kare Plus, but we aren’t complacent in thinking the battle for disabled rights and access is over. More education is needed to make people aware mental disabilities are not always visible or immediately obvious in the same way physical disabilities are.
However, we are here to continue supporting these individuals to live their lives to the fullest potential with the help of our carers and nurses - allowing them to continually learn new things, achieve new goals and overcome ridicule, challenges and setbacks.
We just ask you to understand, as you may not always be able to see the disability.
If you're celebrating Disabled Access Day today, find out what activities and events are going on all around the UK in our "Where to go on Disabled Access Day 2016?" blog.