Disability, Citizenship and Community Care: A Case for Welfare Rights ? by Kirstein Rummery

Ashgate, Aldershot, 2002, 212 pp., hb, 0 7546 1757 2, £39.95. Order this book

It is true that it is difficult to get into the system to receive community care but this book does not highlight the fact that this varies around the country as eligibility criteria are different depending on where you live. Once on the bottom rung the level of support you receive again varies from area to area and this again was not identified in the book.

This book is not an easy read and did not always distinguish between the author’s thoughts, individuals’ contributions and quotes from other written material. The constant referral to the source of material made this a rather disjointed read.

The correct care package for the individual can be a liberating experience allowing users, their partners, spouses or parents to return to more conventional relationships because they are not trying to fulfil a dual role. For me, direct payments contribute enormously to allowing these relationships and to restoring spontaneity to my life. So you can understand why I was disappointed that there was not more mention and information about direct payments until the last page or two, especially as users may require unbiased help from many sources to implement direct payments.

Recipients of a standard statuary care scheme are unable to participate in mainstream life because of the level of support they receive. As a result of this type of support the disabled person is unable to develop full relationships or to commit to any activity because they spend so much time waiting for the worker to arrive.

As the author states, the real drawback with the system is the level of involvement of the user and social services with the assessment stage. However, it is public money that is being spent, so there has to be some control over how the funding is used.

Although this book highlights some of the problems accessing the care system, it is not helpful for those needing care, as it is more likely to put them off trying to gain assistance in any form. Perhaps further research into citizenship and direct payments might be appropriate, as this is more likely to provide choice to participate in the community.

Wendy Dibdin MBE. BSc, former Chair of Greenwich Association of Disabled People, a Consultant in Disability Issues, and a Wheelchair user who uses Direct Payments for support staff.