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Independent Living Day
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Chosen home life a basic right for disabled people
Disability support and advocacy group CCS, now CCS Disability Action, is using its awareness week to celebrate the success of disabled people living independently and draw attention to the fact that many disabled people do not live the home life they choose.
“If you’re living in residential care, you will not have the everyday choices most of us take for granted,” says Viv Maidaborn, CEO, CCS Disability Action. “Living a home life you choose means that you make decisions about your environment; they’re not made for you. This includes when and what you eat, whom, if anyone, you live with, what your home looks like, all the things most people take for granted,” says Viv.
The organisation believes far too many disabled New Zealanders currently have inappropriate or unchosen living arrangements. It understands there have been up to 200 disabled people under 50 years of age living in aged care facilities at any time. CCS Disability Action is currently working with the Government for more flexible funding criteria for disability services to provide individualised support so that people with disabilities can live a home life of their choice.
CCS Disability Action can assist disabled people with funding applications, finding appropriate carers and discovering the local community and facilities, “It’s often a simple case of someone wanting to live a more independent life and making everyday choices,” says Viv Maidaborn.
Lorna Sullivan, from Standards Plus, an independent agency promoting leadership and outcome-based quality in services for people with disabilities, endorses the “basic right” message.
“To promote a society that highly values disabled people’s lives and continually enhances our full participation is very admirable. But then to deny people basic life opportunities of choosing where they live, who they live with, what they do during their day is flawed,” she says. “New Zealand proudly and justifiably promotes its achievements in closing large institutions, but appears unable to recognise that small institutions have just as negative and long lasting impacts on the life opportunities and social value of people.
Supported Living New Zealand agrees, “People with disabilities want to be in control of their own lives. They want to make their own choices about where and how they live, and how they are supported,” says spokesperson Shmuel Bar-Even. “The community around them needs to make a shift away from the disempowering practices of the past, towards real community membership and real choice,” he said.
When it comes to living independently in the community a disabled person might need support to assist with cooking, shopping or personal care needs. CCS Disability Action believes that with increased flexible funding disabled people would have a more genuine sense of being included in the community and consequently better able to contribute to their community.
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