The boss of a leading disabled people’s organisation has told peers of the need for a change in “mindset” about adult social care provision that appears automatically to view disabled people as “dependent”.
Ian Loynes, chief executive of Spectrum Centre for Independent Living, said that altering this mindset would “change the way that we provide social care in this country, to make it clear that the ambition is for our independence and to minimise dependency”.
Loynes (pictured above, right) told the committee: “Most definitely there needs to be a change in perception and a change of understanding about disabled people and older people.
“There’s a notion that once you become disabled, you’re automatically dependent on somebody else, you’re just looked after and you’re wasting your life until you die.
“That’s not the reality for… disabled people [of any age].
“We all want to make the most of our lives, we only get to live once, and disabled people should have that right to live a decent life and a life of their choice and their ambitions to be met.”
Loynes said the “vast majority” of social care was “seen in that negative aspect” and was about “looking after people rather than allowing people to live a lifestyle of their choice”.
He stressed the importance of providing support to older and disabled people through direct payments, which research had shown should be cheaper, and allows service-users to choose who provides their support.
He also called for locally-based peer support services like Spectrum to be more valued, and for the government to do more to inform people about the “different ways that people can have their needs met”.
He pointed to the financial “struggle” faced by many centres for independent living (CILs) around England, including Spectrum, while he said many CILs have already “failed to exist” as services are tendered out by local authorities.
He told the committee that disabled people “should have a right to that sort of peer support and be able to gain that easily and be able to choose where that comes from”.
Loynes pointed to the Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People white paper, published by the prime minister’s strategy unit under a Labour government in 2005, which called for every local authority area to have a user-led organisation modelled on existing CILs by 2010.
He said that, 17 years on, that recommendation was still seen as an “aspiration rather than an objective”.
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