What Is Community?
This morning, NHS England & ADASS released their plans to close 50% of learning disability in patient services by 2019. There is some good stuff in the report, not least that NHS England and ADASS seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet. But why 2019. That’s a bloody long time if you’re trapped in an ATU. And why only 50%? That sounds like (literally) half measures to me. Where is the evidence that the remaining 50% still need the services of an inpatient facility?
The thing that bothers me greatly though is this statement: “NHS England is hopeful of jump starting the building of new community resources with its £45m fund”. Twitter has been awash with discussions about co-production, joined up practices, partnership working etc etc….
What is a community? A learning disabled person is the community. Their community already exists. A person leaving an ATU will either return to their community they left before their incarceration or they will move to a new community. A community exists with or without us. We build and shape our community from within. It is a work in progress. You can’t build it in advance. Communities are good and bad and we take from them what we need. And a community already has its resources.
Before I left for work this morning, I sat with Steven and ran through the plans he’s made for today. They were: go to Ranjit’s shop for a Flake; have a Fawlty Towers marathon; go for a pub lunch; search YouTube for the clips he wants for his radio programme on Monday; go swimming at our local Mencap pool. It’s important to point out that if Steven was still in the ATU, he wouldn’t be able or allowed to do any of those things. But the more important point is Steven’s day is his community. The ” resources” are either there, or Steven has built them. It’s not rocket science -it’s just a dead normal life. Steven lives in a normal 2 bedroom house, in a normal street. He’ll have a normal conversation with Ranjit’s whilst buying his Flake. He’ll have an orange juice and a bag of Cheddars in the pub, just like the other Friday customers.
Yes, he needs good quality support to enable some of this but here’s another thing – his five support workers are dead normal blokes as well. They might have a Flake too. They care about him and are interested in him. I think that’s a bloody good basis to life.
Please don’t sabotage the potential of today’s report by over complicating something fairly simple.
After all, we’re just talking about human beings. With human rights. And human needs. That’s it.
From → Social Care