It is with great diffidence that I suggest that a lot of the very welcome and well-informed debate about how to provide suitable care and support for older and disabled people has centred around the wrong question. It is not and never should be, about "how do I keep my mum from going into care?" That is simply the wrong question.
It is a daily experience that anyone who is disabled will know all too well. I have been a wheelchair user for 35 years, and while there is now a law stating that businesses should make every "reasonable adjustment" to ensure that they are accessible the real experience is that many places are still closed to disabled people.
It's not just the big chains and shopping centre that is easy. Through out the city centre there are arcades of boutique style shops and restaurants, and pretty much all of these are equally accessible. Most of these are historic in nature and yet there has been great effort taken to ensure as many of them are as accessible as possible.
In short, being an individual with disabilities in a world that is not disabled-friendly means living a very limited life. It is clear that there are many have to be done in order to create a disabled-friendly world. A world without obstacles. A world where being disabled do not automatically equate with being disadvantaged.
This weekend an incident occurred that reminded me of what is is to be disabled in the UK in the 21st Century. I have been disabled since a few weeks after birth, having been born with cancer, but started using a wheelchair full time at the age of fifteen after a complication caused my spine to collapse.
I, myself, am a self confessed social networking addict. My thumb will always gravitate to the Facebook App without a moments pause and I really don't always realise that I'm browsing the feed. Is it really an awful habit? I'm not convinced either way just yet, but I did believe that 48 hours without it might be torture. I'm happy to report, I was wrong.
I think able bodied people are in denial about their thoughts and feelings towards us - they don't want to deal with the thought process, so they shut it out. Well, we are here! And with medical advances and people living longer, there are only going to be more of us! So maybe it's time for people to start coming to terms with their feelings about disability.
People with cerebral palsy can remember when SCOPE was called The Spastic Society. Now we have a culture where political correctness has overtaken and one cannot use the term 'disabled' or 'mentally handicapped' or even 'handicapped'; instead we have to use the terms 'less-abled' or 'learning difficulties'. Is this really required