Today we all got the news that a local authority, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and the Supreme Court, think it is quite acceptable for someone to be forced to use incontinence pads when they don't have to, in order to save money. Apparently the argument that incontinence pads are safer and give greater privacy than getting up to use a commode, actually holds weight in Britain today.
The individual involved in this legal battle, Elaine McDonald, is not incontinent. She can control her bodily functions but she does need to empty her bladder several times a night. This former ballet dancer, who once ruled her body with strength and grace is being held hostage not only by the devastation caused by a stroke, but by her own Local Authority.
Whilst I applaud the coverage of this legal battle on the news, I find it terribly sad that this case is the one that is being covered on prime time tonight, when I am sure that there are other equally disturbing cases not being covered because the individuals are less sympathetic. This woman was obviously fit and had great control of her body, how sad it is that she can no longer use it the way she once did. The media can show shocking before and after photographs that gain sympathy. It seems that the news broadcasters feel that the elderly are of more note to the British public, than the sick and disabled, or maybe I'm doing them a disservice, after all, it was Age UK that assisted in taking this case to the Supreme Court, not the BBC.
I was discussing, with my partner, yesterday the lack of interest in the treatment of the sick and disabled and he stated that it was because no one believes it can happen to them. Everyone knows they will definitely get old, but no one believes they will ever get sick or end up being cared for by others. I hate to think that our nation really is filled with individuals with such feeble imaginations.
At what point do the fit, young and healthy realise that one day they could get hit by a bus, have a disabled child or suffer a stroke? Do they think that we knew this would happen to us, or that we brought it upon ourselves somehow? It could happen to them and it could happen to them tomorrow. They never know when their health will fail or when an accident can happen, as those on this side of the fight know. Old age may seem a life-time away and something that you can prepare for later, but accidents and ill health happen, and are rarely planned for.
I just wish it were possible to convey the humiliation and horror of not being able to get to the toilet without assistance, and then to be told that you could no longer have that assistance. How do we awaken the imagination of a nation and help them see what it is like to live in a broken body, and what it would be like for them, if their bodies were broken too? Maybe if they could imagine for just one moment what it could be like, the young, fit and healthy would join us in our fight to be treated as equal citizens, with a right to dignity and a means of support. Maybe if Jude Law and Sienna Miller were in a film about it, we would gain more sympathy and respect. I do hope that this is not our only hope, but if it is, does anyone have their email addresses?