A Disabled Persons’ Mobility Service is a direct riff on an older idea, the Disabled Persons Housing Service, with another dimension, of person- centred life planning and mapping of pathways. The social model of disability is not yet embedded in everything we do. Society is still extremely discriminatory and worse, although this has continually been pointed out, has rarely thought through why and how things are done, although the centuries old monastic injunction is to begin at the beginning.
A classic example is the subject of disabled person’s mobility services. We have many completely disconnected specialist services, I am unaware of person centred, thought through, tailored, solution finding organisations. We have orthotics, physios, OT’s, wheelchair services, patient ambulance services, highways departments not understanding the critical role of pavements, PIP assessments, Blue Badges, Motability, Shopmobility, taxi cards, disability railcards, wheelchair spaces on trains and buses, ramp processes, accessibility improvements to rail, dropped kerbs, tactile paving, community transport ….
Some of these organisations and systems are very poor and haphazard, others have huge resources but are very strangely framed. I am unaware that they have equality impact audited themselves in relation to their context.
My personal journey has meant I have stopped driving, although I have been an essential car user most of my working life and have had very large motorcycles. I struggled to relearn to walk and could have gone down the wheelchair route. I was not safe to drive as I can lose concentration and my legs do not do what they should consistently. I am not sure of the exact sequence – I might have been at a presentation by Isabelle, but after my health incident I contacted a Danish neurophysiotherapist who worked for a specialist neurology department mentioned in a Christiania advert, who told me that in Denmark cargo trikes are prescribed as central parts of neurological rehab pathways. I was able to afford the trike by selling a car. My physio programme is meant to be mixed walking, balance, stretching. My physios do not really understand what I understand to be the key factors to my personal journey, the cargo trike and taichi, although they tell me I am doing very well! The professionals are not really enabling the pathways and the sets of solutions I need. These include, safe comfortable places to cycle and walk, secure storage, excellent responsive repair and maintenance services, ease of getting my cargo trike onto and off rail and excellent infrastructure and a well thought through person centred life plan and map.
The ways to coordinate and project manage these matters have all been worked out. There is no reason why a disabled person should not have an agreed life plan, detailing what they specifically need, not the clumsy oh we have this and this but not that. Disabled Persons Organisations and Disabled Persons Housing Services have worked this out. There is a huge academic area about this – whole systems.
I am formally proposing researching and experimenting with developing a whole system disabled persons mobility service, able to work out and implement a complete set of solutions and ensure all partners are working to agreed standards, steadily enabling improvements in standards. The principles of this have been developed for disabled persons housing services, below, they need implementing for disabled person mobility services.
A 2002 report to Powys Council reports that Disabled Persons Housing Services have been developed in various parts of England and Scotland to overcome some of the barriers to housing faced by disabled people. A local Disabled Persons Housing Service (DPHS) is:
“A specialist housing advice service providing and/or co-ordinating all aspects required to solve housing related problems available to all disabled people, irrespective of income, age and housing tenure” 1 The following features are typical of a DPHS:
A user-centred approach, with the disabled person fully involved
Assessment – full consideration of the needs of the disabled person and property, including future as well as present needs
A Disability Housing Register – a register of housing needs of disabled people and database of supply of suitable purpose-built and adapted property
Information, advice and support as required on all aspects of housing to achieve a solution – identifying all the possible options – often using the Personal Housing Plan approach
Assistance with adaptations – including, when needed, design, planning permission and contract management; and help with advice on repair and renovation
Inter-agency co-ordination – facilitating involvement and co-operation of the relevant statutory and voluntary agencies
Training and practice in the skills of independent living – using accommodation set aside for the purpose, either to try out equipment or as short-stay housing
Specialist Occupational Therapy advice – including a full consideration of short- and long-term needs
Specialist architectural and other technical advice – as appropriate – information, design input and project management
Specialist financial advice and assistance – information about costs of options available, welfare benefits advice, grant payments, shared ownership and interest only mortgages
Specialist housing advice – including identifying suitable alternative accommodation; and information about the housing needs of disabled people to plan better housing provision
Identifying and negotiating appropriate assistance and support – including information and advice about the employment and management of personal assistants
Design advice to housing and other agencies
Static and working displays of equipment – providing a resource of information and advice about availability and purpose
HoDis, the National Disabled Persons Housing Service, developed accreditation standards that include as a minimum:
Customer centred approach. This includes: • Ensuring empowerment, choice, dignity and control by disabled people• A holistic, person centred approach to the housing needs of the disabled person• Full consideration of the needs of the disabled person, including identifying possible options• A casework approach• Involvement in co-ordination of multi-agency responses
The social model of disability must be central to the underpinning philosophy.
Disability Housing Register consisting of: • A database of accessible (purpose built and adapted property)• A register of disabled people who require accessible housing• A service of matching people to property.
Adaptations service • Information, advice and support on adaptations options• The practical services and funding needed to carry them out
The DPHS around Britain have aims that include being user centred, holistic, comprehensive and solution oriented.