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Posts tagged ‘DLA’

Scooter v Wheelchair – which to chose

342D81D3-0B22-443F-96E1-822AC749AE52It was International Wheelchair Day on 1st March, so I wanted to write something appropriate. 

One of the early decisions many disabled people face when they find walking too painful or difficult is whether to buy a scooter or a wheelchair. This blog post is not going to be about which make or model to buy. But will help you think about which of the two options is best for you.

Over 12 years ago I started off with a small scooter.  I was able with help, to take it apart and put it in the boot of my car. It also had a removable battery that I could take inside my flat to charge. It was very useful when I was going off to museums and galleries, places where the floor was even. But it was very uncomfortable on rough ground and definitely didn’t like steep inclines. 

But it was the reactions of other people that shocked me.  I was told on many occasions that I was too young to need a scooter!  This usually happened when I asked people to move so I could get past them. Other comments that hurt even more were; “You can’t really be disabled, otherwise you would have a wheelchair”. And “You just choose to use a scooter cos you’re too lazy to walk”. 

My scooter really helped to give my a greater level of independence. But as my spinal arthritis began to deteriorate, I found the seating on the scooter was getting too uncomfortable. I decided to ask for a referral for an NHS wheelchair. I was delighted to be told that I was eligible for one of medical grounds. However, because the property I was living in was not wheelchair accessible I was ineligible on accommodation grounds as they only supplied wheelchairs for indoor use! 

Sadly this rejection is all to common. Often when people are referred to Wheelchair Services – WCS they are not getting a suitable chair. For those people who can-self propel, it’s obviously easier to push in a lightweight chair. In the wheelchair groups I belong to on Facebook there are frequent posts from people who’ve only been offered a heavy chair, not the lighter one they need. Often they are told; “Your partner can push you.” That can increase a dependency that is often already fraught. Some WCS are now just giving people a voucher, which doesn’t cover the cost of the right wheelchair. So many of us are forced to apply to charities or set up a Go Fund Me. 

It’s disgraceful that so many disabled people cannot get the right wheelchair. Surely it should be a basic right for our independence? 

WCS are another part of the NHS which is now privatised. Hence the lack of funds and inappropriate equipment being offered. 

I was fortunate to be able to apply to a nursing charity for funds to buy my first electric wheelchair. The difference it made to my ability to get out and about was wonderful. I was able to go out for longer periods. The chair is much more compact and easier to manoeuvre in small spaces. I also have a deep memory foam cushion, which means I can sit for longer periods without pain.

But the greatest change for me was the attitude of other people. Once I began using my chair nobody ever queried my disability. Nor did anyone make inappropriate remarks about my need to use it. It even helped me to get a higher rate of DLA (this was the benefit before PIP). I had been on the lower rate for mobility for some years but my mobility has worsened. My first application for review was turned down. I appealed and went in front of a tribunal. I used my scooter at the interview and was promptly refused again. When I managed to speak about this with other disabled people I was told I should have borrowed a wheelchair and taken a carer with me! I wish I’d known that previously.

On my next DLA review I wrote about my wheelchair use and provided confirmation. I was awarded both components of DLA at the higher rate on a indefinite basis. I was so relieved. 

So for me a wheelchair is the best choice. I have friends who prefer to use one of the larger scooters and pay for it from their PIP. Whilst these scooters are very comfortable, they are very bulky. Having to leave them outside a shop increases the chance of them getting stolen too, especially in London. 

My one caution if you opt for a scooter – never buy a three wheeler. Why? They are inherently more unstable, and I have seen some appalling injuries when people have been tipped off them. There are lots of four wheeled scooters and even a five wheeled one available.

I hope whatever you choose brings you lots of freedom.

A card to prove you’re disabled

Access to venues without the hassle

Have you ever turned up to a theatre or exhibition and discovered you needed documentation to prove you were entitled to a discount?  I certainly have and am sure so have most disabled people. 

Now that problem is solved by Access Card.

This card verifies that you are disabled and in most cases are in receipt of a disability benefit such as DLA or PIP. If you do not get these benefits there is plenty of space to explain your disabilities on the form. It is also possible to download a paper copy of the form and send it in by post.

I’ve just filled out my application on-line and it was relatively easy.  Though I did have some difficulties. There seemed to be no way of moving from one box to the next to input my name and address details. I had to keeping hitting the next button at the bottom of the page which was annoying.

You will need to have a copy of your benefit letter, a copy of some photo ID and a separate photo for use on your card. All of there were easy to upload on the the Access Card site. 

Now I have to wait for my card and I’ll update this post when it arrives and I’ve used it.

 

 

Mental Health Awareness Week

The Irony of Randomness

This is the week organisations and employers are encouraged to make sure they have structures in place to support staff who may have mental health issues.

It is also a week for some to feel able to talk about their own mental health diagnosis. Another way of marking the week, as many election candidates have done, it to look at ways our NHS should be doing more to prevent young people going into crisis. 

But for me, this week has been one of stress and worry, which could easily be resolved. Under the cruel Tories, I and so many disabled people continue to suffer unnecessarily. I receive DLA and was given an indefinite award 8 years ago. I should not need to be re-assessed. But then the rules changed. Everyone, no matter what their condition, has to be checked up on. This includes people who were born with severe mental and physical disabilities who cannot do anything for themselves. 

Two weeks ago, the dreaded envelope dropped through my letter box. The DWP require me to complete a 24 page form asking asinine questions about my health and what I can and cannot do. This week I have to return it. The irony and randomness of having to so during Mental Health Awareness Week is not lost one me.

Luckily, I’ve recently registered with a new GP and seen a new Consultant so my ‘everything you need to know’ A4 sheet is up to date with diagnoses and medication. I have also got a supporting letter from a Nurse who knows me well. I have warned my GP and consultant they will most likely be contacted.

I have 5 long term conditions, none of which will ever improve. I understand and accept that. But the DWP tick box managers clearly do not. Every 2-3 years they send me another form to complete, with questions on it that bear little relation to my everyday life. Can I lift or move a box? Can I put a pen in a top pocket? Can I touch the top of my head? 

Those of us with arthritic conditions, blood disorders or neurological symptoms, my friends with MS or Parkinson’s, all of us have to  go through this stressful process. It is totally unnecessary. The DWP could, much more cheaply, employ Doctors or specialist Nurses  to paper-check on-going claims. This would ensure those of us who can never return to full health, will retain our allowances. People who may have been debilitated after an injury or by an illness which is curable, would also be assessed and either be transferred to long term benefits or supported back to work.

The same could be true for the many people I know with mental health problems. Some people with a mental health diagnosis will never be stable enough to hold down a job. Forcing then to try and do so is most likely to end up exacerbating their already fragile mental health. 

So this week, I’m merely surviving. I want to thrive and focus on my writing projects, and doing some cyber campaigning for the election. But that’s not possible. I have the Sword of Damocles hanging over me. Will the money I need to live on be cut? Will I keep my car, which is my absolute life line? These are the thoughts that occupy my waking time and stop me sleeping at night. 

What would enable me to thrive? An questionnaire checking up to make sure I have enough support and care hours? That might help ensure I can live something approaching a normal life. The questionnaire could check if I’m socially isolated. Thankfully I’m not, but so many people are. It could also ask if my home is safe to live in, am I free from harassment, and if I can afford to keep warm in winter? 

All of those things would improve my life. Filling out a form to tell someone, with less qualifications than me, the obvious only causes me and all other disabled people stress and distress. 

Maybe next year the focus of the campaign should be to get politicians to understand how to help us thrive and not be burdened with having to just survive. 

 

 

 

 

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