Disabled people are often talked about as though they form one group, but every disabled person faces different challenges and health conditions.
Care for people with a disability therefore varies greatly, and finding the right solution for each person will need careful assessment and review of available resources
A disabled person might be anyone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. These impairments could include:
Older people are more likely to develop a disability and most disabled people are adults. Of the more than 11 million people in the UK who are disabled, around 6% are children.
Improved medical treatments mean that more people are living with a disability now than ever before. Enabling people to manage with long-term health problems inevitably involves providing a care package. Depending on the area of disability, the person may be able to remain at home or live with relatives, or may require longer term residential care.
Disabilities of any kind present challenges, but this doesn’t mean that life with a disability can not be fulfilling.
For most people, a fulfilling life means having control over their day-to-day activities and being able to choose how they live. More than 1 million disabled people in the UK live alone, and many more lead independent lives with help.
Practical support and help with day-to-day tasks can be provided through a number of means, including state funded support, or private care facilities. This might include the need for special equipment, adaptations to a home and home care visits to help with things such as shopping, cleaning and dealing with personal hygiene.
The first step in finding home support for a disabled person is to ask social services at the local council to arrange a health and social care assessment. This will involve a visit from an occupational therapist who will provide a written care plan stating what the disabled person is entitled to.
Through the direct payments scheme, money is often available from the local council to fund care, including employing care assistants rather than relying on the council to arrange it. This gives more control over the care and equipment the disabled person is able to receive.
Here’s a really good video from Support for Independent Living where people share their thoughts on what good support means to them.
Respite care is designed to replace the care that a carer would normally be giving a disabled person. This means that a relative or family member caring for a disabled person can have support to attend to their own health and wellbeing, and take a break from the difficult job of caring for a disabled loved one.
Examples of respite care might include regular replacement overnight care, to catch up on sleep, or week or weekend care to provide space for other family activity.
In certain situations, respite or temporary care may be provided by a local authority after a carer’s assessment.
Many hospices also provide respite care, offering high-level care. It is very important that carer’s who make use of respite care are comfortable with the provider, and feel confident that their family member is being cared for properly. Choosing the right care home, to provide such facilities is paramount.
Here’s a video from Bluebird Care with their thoughts on what makes good respite care.
For those with more complex levels of disability, home living is not suitable. Specialised Residential and Nursing Care Homes can provide care and accommodation to people who are unable to live safely in their own homes or who requires 24hour access to care.
Residential care should always be tailored to the individual needs of the disabled person, to help them feel as comfortable and independent as possible.
Because of the wide variety of different needs and preferences, it is vital to review any care plans on a regular basis with the involvement of all interested parties, such as family and friends. This means that the process of finding a care home is focused on delivering the best outcome for the disabled person.