Thursday, 7 July 2011

Need the Loo? Book a Time Slot.

No sooner have the Supreme Court finished shaming each and every one of us by ruling that Kensington and Chelsea Council (representing by far the richest borough in the country, with 1 in 6 earning over £60K p/a) are fully entitled to tell a disabled elderly woman that she should just wet herself rather than provide her with the support to use the toilet during the night that her disability requires, than The Scotsman reports that a supported living complex in Aberdeen has started telling its residents that if they need staff help to get to the bathroom then they will have to schedule it on a roster and that when residents questioned this new regime they were told to 'train their bowels'. Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland have launched an urgent inquiry, but are the stormcrows of the Supreme Court's precedent-setting decision already coming home to roost at the heart of Cameron's Big Society? And if we need to pre-book our slot to go to the toilet then is it the Big Society, or the Big Brother Society?

If managers at the heart of a private company, intent only on reaping maximum profit from those whose disabilities force them into dependence on their care; or councillors at the heart of a local authority, intent only on shaving the maximum possible savings from a constituency who lack the political capital to threaten them at the ballot box; feel able to so cavalierly dismiss our rights to human dignity and respect in favour of what is tantamount to abuse, then are they really any morally different to the thugs who physically abused the residents of Winterbourne View? Dousing someone with learning disabilities in cold water, insisting that a disabled, elderly lady wet herself for your convenience, are the ethical issues really so different? And if the motive for the abuse is not the personal inadequacy of the bullies amongst us, but the cold, hard, bottom line of personal profit, then isn't the failure of personal ethics actually far, far worse.

And if the highest court in the land supports these abusers in their actions, then how can we have any respect for the judiciary? The purpose of law is to encode a system of ethics, the purpose of the judiciary is to protect and defend that system, not connive at its systematic erosion.

1 comment:

  1. Just for clarity, Margaret Blackwood isn't a private company, it's a housing association that specializes in wheelchair-accessible accommodation. They have an otherwise good reputation in Scotland, though in this case it does sound as though they've put their foot in it right up to their necks!