By Debbie le Quesne

Posts Tagged ‘dignity

Human rights court ruling could raise the bar on dignity

leave a comment »

Stopping night calls to a retired, disabled ballerina was illegal, – or at least initially – according to the European court of human rights.

But the ruling allows our government “wide discretion in balancing the needs of vulnerable individuals with the economic wellbeing of the state,” the Guardian online report says.

The decision could impact significantly the level of support local authorities are required to provide.

The case was brought by stroke victim Elaine McDonald, a former prima ballerina with the Scottish Ballet, against Kensington and Chelsea Council and the UK government.

She has been left with limited mobility and at night she needs to go to the toilet regularly.

In November 2008, the council reduced the amount it was prepared to pay for her care and declined to fund a night-time assistant. They proposed she use incontinence pads.

The provision of night care would cost,

The council argued that the cost of the night service – £22,270 a year – would have to be paid out of the adult social care budget from which all other community care services for adults in the applicant’s borough were funded.

But the Strasbourg court ruled that the UK violated McDonald’s rights between November 2008 and November 2009 because the local council had failed to carry out a full assessment of her care plan.

But here comes the sting in the tail: The British government was ordered to pay €1,000 (£813) in compensation for breaches of article 8 of the European convention of human rights, which guarantees respect for family and private life. She was also awarded €9,500 for expenses and legal costs.

The court added (Guardian report): “From 4 November 2009 onward, there is no doubt that the interference [in her rights] was in accordance with the law [after the care plan was reviewed]. The court accepts that the interference pursued a legitimate aim, namely the economic wellbeing of the state and the interests of the other care users.”

McDonald submitted that if forced to use incontinence pads she would “lose all sense of dignity” and, as a consequence, she would suffer considerable distress.

The local authority said using would ensure the applicant’s safety and provide her with greater privacy and independence in her own home.

It’s a difficult one, this case . . . but undoubtedly a landmark ruling which could effect the decision-making process in many other cases.

Basically it means that if social care services are cut under social services reviews, councils will have to take into account the impact on the dignity of the individuals who will be affected.

And a final thought: How can we fix a cost on the indignity that Elaine McDonald OBE endures in processing her most personal elements of her care though the British legal system.


Mobility scooters for homes: What is the real price of independence?

leave a comment »

Mobility scooters give the elderly and disabled people independence, self-respect and dignity.

And now some care home owners are offering these machines for communal use by their residents. A great idea – perhaps.

But like all vehicles, they must be used responsibly in order to keep both the user and the public safe. The humble scooter may look innocuous enough as it makes its way along the busy high street, but there are some terrifying hidden dangers around for those who use these vehicles inappropriately.

The matter was raised by a man I know who picked up a speeding ticket and to keep points off his licence elected to attend a speed awareness course.

One of the issues raised at the TTC driver awareness group were the dangers posed by scooter users – and not the kind some of us can recall in the Quadrophenia movie.

My friend explained: “Put an orange flashing light on the back of a mobility scooter and they then become road legal.” Is this true? Well, yes.

Like all vehicles, scooters fall into a class; the ‘class 2′ category can be capable of travelling at speeds of up to 4 miles per hour, and it may only be driven on pavements or on road crossings. The ‘class 3’ go-faster type can reach a giddy 8mph and can be legally driven on the roads.

We all know our reaction slow as we get older, it’s not a criticism, it’s a fact of life. How many of us have been forced to doge the odd scooter driver and is there such a thing as scooter rage?

Perhaps it’s me, but the idea of care homes letting their residents use this kind of transport as a communal resource for outings seems a little scary, but doesn’t all independence come at a price?

I’m not advocating people going into care should lose all scooter transport privileges – in fact, I’m all for improving the mobility of residents in whatever form, but I can see possible perils ahead.

You don’t need a driving licence to a mobility scooter and far as I’m aware, there are no helpful courses available to give some crucial tips on, for instance, how to negotiate kerbs, traffic islands and bus lanes, crowded footpaths and travel in the dark. I’m certainly not suggesting a driving test, but being made aware of dangers would clearly be helpful.

Maybe, this is a new business proposition, because I can’t find anything like it on a Google search.

Mobility aids such as scooters give people the freedom to live their lives the way they want, but their use must be taken very seriously.

Written by debbielq

February 20, 2013 at 11:42 am