Disabled… or just lazy scroungers? In which I discuss the Home Care lady’s Disablism

I’m afraid, dear reader, that it’s *another* post about my Home Care Service. I’ve told you before about the problems with the service, but today’s little bon mot deserves it’s own post.

I was talking about my plan to go out today. Don’t worry, nothing too exciting, just a visit to the optician. I discussed how upset I’d been last time I went to the shopping centre, because  I hadn’t got the Blue Badge and we had been clamped in the disabled parking bay. I explained how my other half came to pick me up from the shopping centre, and within the twenty minutes it took to get me back in my manual wheelchair from the shopmobility electric one and back to the car, we were clamped.

I was explaining to the Home Care lady how, although I knew we didn’t have the Blue Badge, I had felt this was unfair because it was clear that it was a pick-up of a woman shopping alone in a wheelchair with a baby and a four year old child. In fact, the clamp and fee were waived once I got to the management suite of the shopping centre and explained the situation.

I explained how I was nervous about going to the optician partly because I had not been back there since this event, over a year ago. I was trying to explain how distressing the experience was, and how I had felt that day had stopped me from going back there until it was, once more, time to visit the optician. I had also felt horribly guilty about being caught out using a disabled bay without the Blue Badge.

I explained how, when adjusting to disability, it wasn’t a straightforward process of getting the “perks”. Because of my denial of how disabled I was, and how long I was likely to be disabled for, I was a long way from admitting I needed things like a Blue Badge then. To be perfectly honest, I still haven’t sent the form off. It seems like one of the tasks that confirms my new status- and I have to admit I’m still not there yet. We had a home-made sign which explained I was temporarily using a wheelchair and gave my phone number to call if it was problematic (I know- amateur hour, huh?) I don’t know what I expected her to say. What I didn’t expect was for her to say

“well, the whole scheme is rubbish. It’s so abused isn’t it? I mean, I see them at the supermarket- they’re not disabled parking up in those bays- they’re just lazy!”

I was shocked by the response of the Home Care lady, so I challenged her:

“How do you know if a person is disabled by looking at them? they may not have an external sign such as a wheelchair, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a limiting chronic condition, does it?”

She was not going to budge. Clearly, not only was she so confident in expressing her opinion to me, a disabled person, but she actually seemed surprised I didn’t agree with her.

“You see them: they’re young, they’ve got nothing wrong with them. You can tell they’re up to no good, too because they seem really shifty. They don’t need a stick- you can tell if someone’s really disabled can’t you? But they get away with it. They’re just lazy, they don’t want to walk any distance.”

Let’s be clear: she wasn’t talking about people (like me) who felt they were entitled to use the disabled parking bay but were not displaying a Blue Badge. She was talking about people who were displaying the Blue Badge- which you get by being registered disabled. She was commenting, as so many seem prone to do, about the medical conditions of complete strangers. She was assuming that she was able to diagnose at a glance and differentiate between the “deserving” disabled and the “undeserving” disabled.

I shouldn’t be shocked, because as the Welfare Reform Bill moves through the House of Lords, and is subject to tricks to reduce scrutiny of the detail, media interest in the issues of disability “perks” once more makes it clear how much disablism is rampant in our society. Campaigners such as Sue Marsh (@Suey2y) and Kaliya Franklin (@Bendygirl) have been presenting reasoned argument about difficulties faces by people with disabilities, and opinion in the press about how this culture stems from attitudes held by those in the media and politics. The comments below such pieces betray the feelings of an increasingly unpleasant and discriminatory section of our society.

These people feel happy to judge us. They think we are lazy; and I’m worried for all our safety as this cannot be unrelated to increasing hate crimes towards people with disability.

And worse; some of them are working for our Social Care Services, coming into our homes. They are our primary practical support, and for me, my only social contact outside my immediate family most days.

I guess that’s another one of those “perks”.

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  1. Sharon

     /  September 17, 2011

    You know what I used to think that lots of well looking people using their blue badge were lazy. Then I had a baby who had problems. He had to wear a brace and it was impossible to get him out of the car without a blue badge (extra space). Once I parked up with blue badge to take him swimming-no brace on-but when I leave he had to be wearing it. I had a massive argument with another blue badge holder who gave me grief about using the space. I was appalled at her and at my previous attitude. You can’t always tell if someone needs the blue badge by just looking at them. Am now training to be an OT and hope I can educate people as much as poss to never have those attitudes that are so normal in our society. Good luck and get the forms filled in it’s not so bad admitting you need help like a wider parking bay

    • Thanks for your comment, Sharon.

      It’s terrible how little I was aware at the sheer level of intimidation and harrassment that people have to go through who are using disabled facilities- it seems that the public now feel totally uninhibited about questioning us, if we *dare* to be out in public and using the facilities that are there to facilitate our community participation.

      I’m sorry you had to go through that with your son, and I’m glad that he has you to defend and advocate for him.

      I’m very happy to hear you’re now training in OT- I think OT is one of the training programs that can make a huge difference to the lives of people with disabilities- well done! I know the training can be arduous, especially when you’re a Mum too. I hope you have a good cohort of other OT Mums on your course, and do please get in touch again and let me know how it’s going.

      Thanks again for commenting. Good luck with your studies!

  2. You really donor have avoid time with these carers.
    Maybe you should offer to do them some disability awareness training!

  3. Anita Hamilton

     /  September 17, 2011

    What an incredible experience. Thanks for “reporting” it as nothing will change unless we amplify the narrative and then take action to educate for change. Stay strong, you are in the right place to make change. Cheers, Anita

    • Thanks Anita!

      I am shocked that I go through these kind of things on such a depressing and regular basis. I rarely even blog about it because it gets me down, frequently. But you’re right, if we don’t make public these things, we can’t change the narrative around disability. So I am going to tart documenting them with more regularity!

      Thanks for your continued support

  4. hazelquinn

     /  July 8, 2012

    I have the best home carer going but many years back has rubbish ones. Though the other weekend a new one came in and as I was in bed (which is why they come in) she kept asking me if I’d been parting the night before, and was that why I hadn’t got up, etc. Sheesh!

  1. “So good to see you back on your feet, again!” in which I discuss the well-meaning but misinformed friend « OT on wheels

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