The others.

Today I have the dreaded care review. There is this notion of a goal of being part of the community. Historically the term community care suggests that there was an alternative life outside the community. Indeed there was – institutions like asylums, hospitals etc. Today people think in terms of either residential OR community care.

This is a load of rubbish. In my mind community means the geographical area where I live, the people who inhabit it and the buildings and features that are present. When all these things come together into the mix you get community. Even asylums had community – albeit somewhat self contained. A range of different homes make up my community – houses, bungalows and flats, student residences with shared facilities etc. Other residences have people on site to provide assistance in doing day to day things – they are all just places people live in our community. So why should I be classed as ‘living in the community’ and my neighbours in ‘residential homes’ and hospices looked upon as being outside? Ahh but I live in my own home? Wait a minute – I know other people who live in rented places and even groups of rented rooms (students) and they are certainly part of the community. So is it about the ability to get out of your house and buy your own food to cook or personalise your space? I don’t go out much or buy or cook my own food – Tesco and my PA or husband sorts that out. So is it about going out and being a consumer, using recreational facilities or something? I don’t do these things or meet people in my town/village. Why is it that society sees me as being in the community compared to those living in residential care homes?

The fact is, it doesn’t matter where you live. It’s about time we got rid of this rigid way of thinking. We all live in the community. We should all get an equal shot of having the desired level of interaction to satisfy our needs – both as givers and receivers. Residential homes only become prisons when people don’t get the right assistance or they are run in a way to stifle people’s freedom. Why should a person be brought a cup of tea if they could be assisted to make their own? Why shouldn’t people be able to keep their accessible cars on site and have support to get out and about rather than rely on people coming to them? Well, the government are set to stop funding for mobility support for anyone in a residential home for starters. For some people – old and young, it will feel more like prison in the future. Out of site, out of mind. Trapped, isolated. Restricted physically. Just plain wrong.

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