Jul 132011

DPAC logoLobby Kensington & Chelsea Council’s Cabinet Meeting

The Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX

at 5.30pm on Thursday 21 July 2011

The Supreme Court has ruled in support of Kensington and Chelsea council’s withdrawal of overnight care to Elaine McDonald to save money. This will mean she will have no choice but to wear pads, although this is undignified and against her express wishes. Male judges are undermining a woman’s right to choose how she is helped with personal care.

The ruling has accepted that reviewing care plans can be treated as a reassessment of need. Therefore any contact with social services, even a phone call, could lead to detrimental changes to a disabled person’s care package.

The idea that privacy and independence can best be facilitated by dispensing with personal assistants or care workers at night was also supported by the Supreme Court. This is contrary to the government’s Independent Living Strategy, and undermines everything we have fought for as a disabled people’s movement for the last forty years. Personal assistance is vital to many disabled people’s independence and safety. Disabled people with complex health and social care needs who cannot move unaided should never be left alone at night in case of a fire or a sudden deterioration in their condition.

Disabled people, family carers, personal assistants, women, pensioners, community activists and trade unionists should come to the lobby to support Elaine and oppose this disgraceful ruling. Elaine’s overnight care should be restored immediately. A defeat for Elaine is a defeat for us all.

Contact ADKC on 0208 960 8888 or at pbsupport@adkc.org.uk

Contact HAFCAC on 07899 752 877 or at hafcac@hotmail.co.uk

Contact DPAC at mail@dpac.uk.net or visit our web site at www.dpac.uk.net

Contact WinVisible on 0207 482 2496 (voice & minicom) or at win@winvisible.org

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Jul 062011

By Stuart Bracking

Disabled People Against Cuts believes the Supreme Court’s majority decision to reject Elaine McDonald’s appeal to keep her overnight personal assistants to help her with regular personal care tasks is a major setback for disabled people of all ages and their families.

This judgment will give a green light to local authorities across England and Wales to reassess care packages to find the cheapest way to meet needs, and allow them to impose solutions that may be against the wishes of disabled people.

By rejecting legal arguments concerning the human rights and disability discrimination acts that favour Elaine’s appeal, the Supreme Court will shatter disabled people’s confidence in the ability of the legal system to protect their rights.

In part of the judgment, Elaine is characterised as being difficult and rigid in her approach to alternatives presented by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea such as a live-in volunteer or sheltered accommodation.

The irony is that if an application to the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in 2007 had succeeded Elaine would have been given the resources to fund the overnight care she needs. This case would never have come to court if Elaine’s council had done its job properly.

While the Supreme Court gives a lot of weight to statements presented by her council that other disabled people who are not incontinent accept the use of pads or sheets to avoid the need for overnight care, they do not question the voracity of some of the council’s evidence, particularly where inaccurate information has been presented.

In the court of appeal judgment, it states in paragraph 13: ‘As it emerged, however, the ILF application failed, inter alia because Ms McDonald, on turning 65, ceased to be eligible for funding from it.’ Yet an independent review of the Independent Living Fund published in January 2007 by the respected academics Melanie Henwood and Bob Hudson confirms on page 5 that applicants had to ‘Be at least 16 years of age and under 66’. In fact at the time when Elaine left hospital in March 2007 when an application to the ILF had a strict deadline of three months she was 63, about to turn 64.

It saddens us that English and Welsh law that is so detrimental to the interests of disabled people is developed by expert legal minds that do not have a full grasp of the detailed issues before them.