Scope is a charity whose mission statement is that it exists "to make this country a better place for disabled people and their families". Yet it has decided to close 11 residential care homes under its control, including Hampton House in Northamptonshire, because it wants residents like Nicky to "integrate with society". Many of the most vulnerable disabled people are now facing the prospect of being evicted.Ah, 'charity', that word that's come to mean almost the opposite of its usual meaning these days...
Why is this happening?Good question. Why, then?
Well, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified by the UK government in 2009, seeks to promote disabled people's full inclusion in society. So the consensus among disability charities now seems to be that disabled people want to live more independent lives within the community in smaller dwellings.Because why ask them what they would prefer? The progressives have spoken and It Shall Be So...
And the charities have come under a lot of pressure from the disability rights lobby to close what they describe as "segregated" residential care.Ah, activists. Of course. They know best. Why listen to anyone else?
...in the last five years the charity has already shut residential homes because it argues that people like my sister and her friends should integrate with society and would be better off in small units. Peter Walker, the organisation's regional director, told a local newspaper that the charity was looking to close care homes like my sister's "because we don't think this kind of old-fashioned care home offers disabled people the kind of say that everyone else has over where they live, who they live with and how their money is spent".Rather like those starry-eyed idealists that insist zoo animals would 'rather be free', the fact that the residents might not feel that way, may in fact prefer safety and security to the dangers of freedom, is but a minor triviality.
They'll soon adapt, the poor dumb creatures.
I can understand why residential care may seem "old-fashioned", and that charities feel it is progressive to move people out into the community, but in the case of severely disabled people who are vulnerable and helpless, like my sister, residential care can be vital. In my sister's care home some residents have lived together for nearly 40 years. So not only are these the places where they live, but the depth of friendships they have formed in them is immeasurable. They are, in effect, big families. Closing the homes they love would be cruel and insensitive.Gosh, doesn't she realise that these charities are motivated through love and compassion? That they know what's really good for their charges, even if those charges stubbornly insist they don't want to leave their plantation?
Mark Atkinson of Scope replied in the comments:
We will continue to meet and talk with residents and their families to explain the proposals and support that we want to offer. When consultation starts, we will support each disabled adult to understand the proposals, take part in consultation with an independent advocate if they choose, and take time for us to seriously consider alternatives before making a decision about each care home.Which I fear seems to come very close to being a meaningless PR piece designed to soothe ruffled feathers, before they go ahead and do what they planned to do anyway.
So...when did charities begin to lose their way, and start to become exactly what they were always set up to alleviate?
H/T: BendyGirl via Twitter