Preview of a new book in the making about a Residential Guardians Service Part 1
Personal Brief Biography
I am a social worker by occupation working in the North of England. I am a post graduate of a Northern English University. For the last 12 years I have worked at the rock face of this truly tough profession battling against all the social ills that make up the highly complex toxic mix that passes as society which is more unequal than ever. I hold a first degree BA in Social Science from a Northern English University. I have undertaken in service training and additional qualifications since graduating.
Background to my proposed new community service idea
I feel it is important in this post to give you the theory behind my proposed idea that will form a conerstone to my brief short monograph style pamphlet. Rather than launch into the proposed service - in this case being the Residential Guardianship Service I feel a discussion centering on various perspectives is important, from The Social Disability Model, to The Medical Model, The Poltical -Economic Model, and The Building Design Model are all perspectives in my book I am currently assembling is important. At the end of this post I have given a short bibliography for those who out of interest would like to take the subject further. The resources listed will cover both non academic and personalised accounts of disability and how that has affected individuals lives, plus charities as resources in the field that may be of interest in the UK and in the USA.
The book will be available as a non fiction e-book under the category of Social Work/ Contemporary Issues in Society. Available through certain international publishing distributors. Not due out until June 2017.
My rationale for writing a brief monograph outlining my proposal to promote a new social community service called the Residential Guardianship Service
I do not know if you are aware but we have a huge unresolved problem regarding our housing needs. This would apply very likely worldwide, whether it was in my country the United Kingdom or indeed you my American cousins or over most of the western world. I have worked all over the North West of England and have been struck by how unfit for purpose our social and physical environment is. Most of our housing stock in the United Kingdom dates from the pre Second World War era. In fact it would be a fairer evaluation to say that the building structures we live in are before the turn of the twentieth century. Buildings from the middle ages and earlier have been lived in by our ancestors and their actual design was definitely not conducive to those earlier generations who lived in them. In fact buildings constructed both prior to and from the Middle Ages onwards through to the 17th and 18th centuries were veritable death traps. Housing stock in the Roman era was just as dangerous for the disabled. Take Rome as an example. Archeologists on various digs have uncovered after detailed field research that a substantial number of Roman citizens lived in 5 or 6 story buildings. With poor substandard lighting, and staircases of variable quality and design. They did not have rapid response medical services or the medical technology to deal swiftly with life threatening injuries when they occured for whatever reason.
Now fast forward to the medieval era. They had the same structural problems. Akward constructed steep windy steps in the medieval castles, to primitive means of access to farm labourers's cottages constructed of highly combustible materials. With building structures for the poorer citizens in England made of variable quality materials, unsafe ladders as a means to access the upper floor of the residential dwelling. In the country the living structures uneven floors and no lighting other than candles, no chimneys and proper fireplaces installed. Also a large number of our "scenic cottages" were constructed of thatch for their roofs. Very combustible and likely to collapse onto the occupants living underneath causing serious injury. The town and city buildings were probably slightly better from the ancient world of the Greeks and the Romans middle ages to today. But you could not have guaranteed that the building designs and construction skills ever factored in safety of the occupants or made provision for the unexpected. Such as the danger of suffering injuries to the limbs of those unlucky enough to sustain serious injuries.
Those buildings were and are a death trap to live in. In many ways just like today our ancestors suffered serious life changing injuries brought about by diseases such as arthritis other conditions such as muscular dystrophy and leprosy, or due to accidents which came about totally unexpectedly, as well as assaults in the towns, cities, villages and in rural settings, which brought about huge changes to peoples' life chances and economic ability to earn a living. Please do not forget there was no welfare social security state in those days as we know it. Other than what the church adminstered in the way of charity.
We share a common link with the past today, most of us in the USA and in the United Kingdom live as the modern 21 st century inheritors of previous generations' homes built over the last 1,000 odd years. Principally in the cities and towns in your country for example Boston, Philedelphia, parts of New York, Houston Texas, Denver, I could go on and on, and in the United Kingdom, we are beset by the same issues over own housing stock's unsuitability as a safe place to live and adapt to meeting our changing complex needs as we grow older. I know as a fact having worked as a social worker that if you do not have the financial means to pay for appropriate adaptations to take into account your physical disability, you will have to wait for many months to have an assessment in my country. In the meantime you could have a serious injury at home and die, before the state social services were able to get round to assessing the support you may require in the event of becoming disabled. This is clearly wrong. Why should those who have the finances be able to have immediate access to an assessment and such mobility aids as a chairlift fitted and rails installed to help get you into and out of your bath? Indeed you can have special designed adapted furniture, chairs and loungs suites installed so long as you can afford it.
The Social Disability Model
The Social Disability model of itself only has resonance if we all accept irrespective of our socio economic status that you and I at some point will experience our body machine malfunctioning. We are exhorted by our medical physicians to take care of our physical bodies - this is well meaning. However, on a subject I will return to later, it takes no account of our financial circumstances. We are social beings with roles, expectations thrust upon us of how to perform those roles, by the culture we live in. That can have added complications if the homes we live in trap us into silence and paralysis by not taking into account that our needs change over time, and are seldom static. The social disability model and how that is perceived is dependant on the culture in which the disabled person lives in. Issues of power especially if you are poor and disabled, or a criminal with disabilities brought about by your own actions. Your gender, and social class as already touched upon and occupational status can affect others perception of your disability. Whether to show pity or contempt are also factors that can impact on how fairly wider society is prepared to accept and recognize disability in all its diverse forms, as deserving of support and understanding.
Now I will not bore you any further with respect to my disability model narrative, I have only given you a briefish taster here. In the next section I have outlined the major issues concerning the still lack of consideration shown by wider civil society and government agencies in the English speaking countries of the world such as the UK, America, Canada, Australia etc towards meeting the changing needs of individuals of all ages, occupations, social class, and race. This is a failure to accept that people when they become disabled have not suddenly transformed into an object they are still human beings with feelings and purpose. This brings me neatly onto my next section respecting the medical perspective.
The Medical Model of Disability
As everybody would agree, medicine as a science cannot regrow damaged soft and hard tissue yet. I am not a physician, however what I do believe is that up to now the only realistic remedies open to most of the public of virtually all social classes has been either steroid injections or indeed surgery which is invasive with a 50 - 50 chance of success. You have to factor in what medical professionals and scientists are constrained realistically to be able to achieve in treating the sufferer, when an injury has been sustained by the body due to the severity of the trauma and how long ago it happened. Once you have established the causes then the medical professionals then utilise their specialist skill set to address as best they can the serious life changing nature of that disability the sufferer is enduring.
What everybody- all of us including myself reading my post needs to be painfully aware of is that financial resources in most countries around the world are finite. In my line of work as a social worker, myself and most of my medical colleagues who work in the NHS or in UK social services have to make tough decisions based on need as to how services are demographically distributed throughout my country. Access to good quality medical services can be hampered to a considerable extent by the current treatment options available to people born with a congenital disability, or acquired through progressive degenerative illness such as types of joint disease such including osteo-arthritis and motor nuerone disease a progessive muscle and nervous system disease, or acquired due to and accident. It is also based on where you live in the UK as to whether you can access the latest medical techniques to help address the type of disability you have. In addition to the availability of resources in the area of my country you live in. In the United Kingdom we operate a post code lottery system as far a accessing medical resources will allow. It is grossly unfair but until we install anew capitalist economic model that is not neo liberal free market inspired, then these inequalities are going to be perpetuated for decades to come. However, the ways things are at present, who is n't to say that we will have another far worse financial crash than we had in 2008 . Of course if you are wealthy then you can access the best up to date advances that medical science in the field of injury trauma has to offer.
A possible solution which I will propose in my short monograph is for scientists around the world to network together to establish new state of the art techniques to look at ways of regenerating damaged or severed limbs. Obviously you cannot regenerate a seriously damaged skull that would not be feasible yet. But what is to realistically stop us reversing damaged limbs? Could we not my literary friends develop a gene mapping programme - with the right bio-technology to map all able bodied at birth in say 20 years plus time, with gene maps linked to stem cell research along with acquiring an international forum of all medical scientists, physicians - surgeons specialising in the field of body regenerative medicine. The fusion of medical technologies such as nano technology which as I understand it are tiny microscopic little machines?? Bio-chemistry genetic engineering, stem cell technology would all need to be brought together to generate new discoveries in this fascinating field. Meeting up at research seminars and undertaking well financed international projects to address the complex issues I have only touched upon here. All advances in this field would need to be rolled out to all irrespective of ability to pay for intially expensive treatments. We don't practise discrimination on the grounds of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious intolerance, as to would benefit from this type of treatment. I have given you a taster of my thoughts on how the medical model would if flexible and innovative could help all of us who at anytime could develop a life changing injury of a severity which will impact in a major way on our physical and psychological emotional state as well as financially. The subject discussed here leads me onto the next important perspective being the impact of the socio-economic model on those living with the consequences of disability. By the way this also includes loosing your eyesight at any age, or going deaf or loosing the use of your speech. The list of what medical science needs to work on in the way of treatments in this area is awesome and will take over a hundred plus years to become a reality depending on the world political situation in future centuries.
The Socio-Economic Consequences of Disability
You cannot overlook the effect disability has on you my readers' lives or mine. We all have to earn our daily bread. Through legitimate as well as illegitimate even shady employment. We need to be physically able to participate at any level in the complex capitalist free market system. Whether you and I like it or not there are serious implications should we become disabled due to increasing age, or disease, physical assaults on us resulting in disability resulting from sudden expected accidents.
In my country of England physical disability will affect your chances in the employment jungle regarding securing work. Especially if you bear in mind, the occupation you used to practice.When you may have earned a substantial salary, with the high status that went with that. I am talking about in this context practising as a lawyer, doctor, stockbroker, or in high intellectual asset jobs where you must be both physically and mentally capable to function in those demanding type of jobs. Lets say you worked in an occupation requiring an emphasis on strength such as the various trades in construction, such as plastering, decorating, joinery, roofing, and tiling. Road civil engineering, the catering trade to name a few, you could potentially find yourself in a serious mess financially. Your whole life can change in an instant. How would you pay the bills, never mind the mortgage or rent. Even if you owned your home outright in my country you face a huge mountain of uncertainty to overcome. You still have to pay out for its upkeep and for adaptations due to your disability.
So what are the answers to how to tackle disability through the economic model of free market capitalism? Do you honestly believe with your hand on your heart that you would be able to be in a position to sustain a meaningful existence if you are alone, with no family, or friendship network, or family? I put to you as a social worker trying to make sense of the austerity we in my country of England are enduring, that you would struggle. How would you maintain your home when you become disabled physically? How could you access resources to undertake adaptions to take account of your new found disability? What about repairs you will have to undertake at some time in the future - would you be able to afford it? All individuals who are unemployed and have lost their jobs and careers without being able to claim or benefit from compensation, should have access to repair maintenance and adaptations grants. In England such grants would be worked out on the basis of the type of home repairs needed, and amount required to meet that obligation. Not on your financial ability to pay.
The Architects and Designers impact on homes for the disabled
In this final section I advocate as s UK Social Worker that all homes would need for new builds to have special adaptations built in to the fabric of the internal structure. Obvious ones would be ensuring that the ground floor of any type of house from terrace to semi detached or bunglaw has provision for grab rails in the bathroom, a walk in shower, aids such as a seat in the bath for those who suffer constricted mobility or using the commode. A built in lift as a standard feature would be vital to aid the disabled user to access upper floors. A chair lift attached to the side of the staircase for those with severe mobility problems to facilitate access to the upper floors as needed. A series of alarmed pressure pads under the carpet or trigger points under floorboards or stairs which would go off in the event of a fall. More on this point in part two of my next post.
The entrance to all new builds must have as standard a walkway that can be accessed by wheelchair, or those with lower limb mobility problems. Essentially I feel that all our residential homes of all types need to have contingency plans in place to account of unexpected changes to our health physical and mental. Features need to be in place in all new builds worldwide that take account of changes taking place in our physiology - due to all the issues I have raised in this post. Needless to say thses proposals all depend on medical science pulling its socks up and upping its game. No more sitting on our laurels you medics get down to it and lets see some tangible results over the next ten plus years as we will all benefit. Though I grant you it will be a long hard slog to reach our goals in this sensitive vital area for our well being sake. I am planning a brief book on disability and its social, health, and economic impact at some point in the next 24 months. However these extra add on issues will be incorporated in my book mentioning in greater detail about my Residential Guardians Service. So watch this space.
Leave a message on my post blog if you like. I have finally included a number of useful resources in the UK and USA for those wanting to take it further.
Keep a look out for my next post, however all I ask is that you read this post first before going on to the second one so that you are informed about my rationale for launching a service in both the UK and the USA,
Resources to explore further
USA Disability Resources
National Disability Rights - Web site with current information related to accessing public spaces - such as public buildings, schools, shops, offices, general infrastructure - roads trains and buses.
web site address www.ndrn.org
Disability Rights California - Providing an advocacy service protecting the rights of the disabled to access all services as well as being entitled to being treated with dignity and respect.
web site address www.disability rights ca.org
Mobility International USA - Raising the profile of people with disabilities worldwide participate on all levels in society.
web site address www.miusa.org
Proof of Disability attitudeiseverything.org.uk - Providing advice and guidance respect to disability rights issues
Web site address attitudeiseverything.org.uk
Disability Rights - United Kingdom Disability Rights Handbook published by the charity Disability Rights UK providing up to date advice and guidance on UK benefit entitlement for the disabled primarily in England under English social security law.
Helping Disabled People - Practical advice for disabled people in the UK.
web site address www.enhamtrust.org.uk
The Douglasbaderfoundation.com/ - Ecellent web site giving an interesting account of the famous English World War 2 RAF fighter pilot's exploits as a disabled pilot, especially what he had to overcome respecting his disability as he lost both his legs in 1930 in a training accident whilst flying with a areial training club. In addition to his life story there is a substantial section on the web site relating to the work the foundation is doing in the field of disability in England and overseas. You will find the biography regarding him informative and inspiring.
Christy Brown - The life that inspired my left foot. An excellent biography about the renowned Irish painter and poet, who in spite of being born with profound paralysis of all his limbs upper and lower defied all the odds by proving that he could carve out a meaningful purposeful life and role contributing to wider society. His unique gifts were the making of him. Book about Christy's growing up in Ireland in the 1950's when attitudes towards disability were unsympathetic and hostile towards disability borne out by ignorance and fear.
Details of book - Author Georgina Louise Hambleton, published by Mainstream Publishing 240 pages cost in UK pounds sterling £15.99 may be available on Amazon at a considerable price reduction.
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