WHERES YOUR CARER
BY IAN BEVERLEY
Now here's a question that will hopefully stir up quite a bit of discussion and debate. Do you think that we live in an inclusive society? The type of world where opportunities for all kinds of things are open to everyone; regardless of things such as sight loss? I often read that examples such council services, tourist attractions, employment opportunities and transport providers (amongst others) pride themselves on being open to all, but quite often, service practice can be quite different to service literature.
Delivering services and developing so called inclusive practices can often be exposed to individuals presumptions and misconceptions. We have, for example, tried to access a number of tourist attractions fairly local to us; especially as they do advertise themselves as being all inclusive. Understandably, a good sense of reason needs to be applied when planning a trip and its good to ring up in advance to arrange help with as much notice as possible. However, we seem to keep coming up against the presumption that we have carers. This is quite a sad and inaccurate assumption because it then gives the provider the opportunity to either deny a service or say it is too difficult to make reasonable adjustments.
We had this problem with the national railway museum in York, where we'd planned to visit. Giving as much notice as possible, I telephoned and inquired about facilities and support. Although they said they promoted open access and inclusion, they were puzzled why we didn't have carers and although they had volunteers, they were not prepared to look at giving us help to access the attraction; even though I had contacted them 3 months in advance.
Yes, it is much easier to visit somewhere with the help of others, but this is not always a possibility for us. An attraction cannot advertise itself as being open for all, if it at the very least isn't prepared to discuss needs and to pursue a reasonable practice rather than just talk the talk. We don't expect to turn up somewhere and demand assistance, but we at least want the opportunity to discuss how others can help and truly make their provision (such as the national railway museum) truly open for all.
There are many examples of services and facilities that do practice open access for all and it can often be overshadowed by the less favourable experiences. We've just been to St. James' hospital in Leeds for an appointment and the help provided to access the right department by the hospital's staff and volunteers was brilliant. No questions asked such as 'where's your carer' or 'you should really bring a responsible person with you next time' (comments we've had before believe me). They were more than happy to help us and to make sure that the visit ran smoothly.
Do you have any examples to share of good or bad service provision? Please get in touch by emailing:
By sharing these, it may help in some small way to increase those good experiences and to lessen the bad examples to lessons that any service provider can learn from.