We have rights...but who knew they existed?
TLAP has done an excellent job of pushing the personalisation agenda forwards; nevertheless, the current situation facing many disabled people, people with long term health conditions, older people and families is one of exclusion, isolation and reduced life chances. Whilst we acknowledge there have been small pockets of positive progress, we also need to be honest and recognise that more has to be done.
I saw how Twitter exploded into activity when the news of the Independent Living Fund appeal came through and whilst there is still a long way to go on that specific issue, you cannot deny the importance Disabled People's Organisations and individuals played in the process to quash the decision to close the fund. Why am I mentioning this? Well, this demonstrates the importance of people being empowered, knowing their rights and utilising the limited resources available in order to take control and create positive change.
I believe TLAP needs to do more to promote what rights people who use services have; we know and agree that people do not face barriers as a result of their impairment or health condition - but due to how society is constructed. If we are to remove these barriers, it will be based on enforcing our rights and embedding the principles of Personalisation, Independent Living and the Social Model of Disability into the vision of TLAP. Ok, that already happens to an extent, but we need to go further! For example, are we promoting or aligning TLAP's work with the articles from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? We've signed and ratified it! It looks at aspirations, clearly outlines an expectation for what we should be doing and has clear relevance to our workstreams.
I'd also like TLAP to utilise their role as a critical friend and be reflective of the pertinent issues affecting choice, control and independence for people who use services. We need to make stronger links with housing, employment, education etc. and voice how current initiatives will affect the personalisation agenda for health and social care.
They say we are in charge of our destiny and yet for people who use services the simplest of actions can be denied. Let us reinforce the importance of coproduction, and ensure the next person we meet is considered a valuable member of their community, with roles and responsibilities to help with the functioning of our society.