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Dementia and Human Rights – Part 11


We are now part the way through the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, I was up to Article 25 and will carry on from there.


So Article 26 is the Right to Habilitation and Rehabilitation.  The State should support individuals with disabilities to attain and maintain maximum independence.  Whether it is habilitation or rehabilitation will depend on whether the disability is a birth issue or an acquired one, such as illness or accident.  The Court of Protection in England and Wales has three main groups of people that it deals with: the elderly with dementia, those with issues from birth and young men who have had a car/motorbike accident.  So the elderly would require limited rehabilitation, as if they have dementia, they will struggle to learn new things and their care will be about trying to get them to manage their chronic condition as far as is possible and/or helping their carers to help them.  Someone with a disability from birth will require habilitation, they may well be able to learn new skills and learn to live well with their condition, whatever that may be.  The final group of young men who have had car accidents will require rehabilitation, with the aim to try to maximise their life chances and possibilities.  All the above should have they should have an early multidisciplinary assessment of their strengths and needs.  They should be supported to live in their communities, including in rural areas, their care should be ongoing and the State should promote assistive devices and technologies that relate to their habilitation and rehabilitation.


Article 27 is about work and employment, which in turn is about dignity and independence.  People with disabilities have the right to obtain a living through work and should be freely able to be considered for work and freely able to accept work.  In the UK there have been a number of difference Acts of Parliament to facilitate this, the most recent being the Equality Act 2010.  States should not just be facilitating this equality, but should actually be promoting it, which is why there can be positive discrimination, in the right set of circumstances.  It can cause issues, as there is an argument that where someone has been subject to positive discrimination, that they are not the best person for the job and therefore can have stigma.  Generally teams work well with a diversity of individuals, who can each bring a different set of skills and experiences to their role.  The Article prohibits the discrimination on the basis of disability and additionally promotes the rights to equal treatment, including importantly equal remuneration.  To ensure their equal rights, they are entitled to join a trade union on an equal basis, access technical and vocational training and guidance and to have reasonable adjustments made to accommodate their disability.  The state should promote employment opportunities within the labour market, including within the private sector and they should lead by example and employ them within the public sector.  The final part of this Article is to ensure that they are not held in slavery or servitude and are protected from forced or compulsory labour on an equal basis with others.  I would be lying to say that there is no forced labour or slavery within modern first world societies, as there is a shocking amount, but this is probably a bigger issue in other less developed societies, but I stand to be corrected!!


These may be numbered later than the important ones of right to life, but in a modern western society, these have a huge impact on people with disabilities.  In fact in any society, being able to have healthcare and work is important, but in some less developed and secure States, the right to life may be more at the forefront of concerns for people and in particular, for people with disabilities.


For people with early stage dementia, they can still work and have a lot to give within the work place.  In my work on the Dementia Action Alliances and on the Prime Ministers Dementia Challenge groups, I have met people with dementia who are still working and they have such a lot to give, years of experience.  They have a very interesting perspective to give and make me feel very humble that they do so much and want to contribute, instead of giving up on life.  If they can remain positive, we should all take a leaf from their book.  That is the point of the Dementia Friends social movement and is my continual argument about people with dementia, they are people, they are not their diagnosis and should not be reduced to only their diagnosis.  They are people first!!