Monthly Archives: February 2020

Coronavirus Covid-19, disabled people, and PAs

The data showing the spread of covid-19 is changing day by day. The current advice centres on people going into self-isolation as a precaution and as a method of containment. The reason is that covid-19 is at its most dangerous in a hospital or a health centre. Current knowledge (caution: this is not a medical website) is that the virus has a mild impact on most people, but for some babies and some adults it can be fatal.

These so-called vulnerable groups, according to current reports, include newborn babies and adults with compromised health. This list of compromised health includes people with:
– cancer,
– serious pre-existing conditions,
– COPD, and
– breathing difficulties.

This list naturally includes many disabled people. It also naturally includes many hospital patients and many health centre visitors, as well as being a high and sometimes fatal risk to health care workers. Hence the focus on self-isolation and telephone consultations with health care services.

However, for disabled people, self-isolation might become the best precaution – to protect themselves from the general population rather than to protect the general population from them.

But what then about PAs? How as a disabled person can you self-isolate if you need PAs to visit you daily? And will PAs become the most vulnerable to infection, similarly to hospital-based health care workers, because of the nature of their work?

Given the intimate and sustained nature of many PA tasks, the idea of gloves and masks seems inadequate to me as a barrier to cross- infection, but are we prepared logistically and culturally for PAs to visit disabled people, and other people with compromised health conditions, in full haz-mat suits – it might feel too extreme for home-based care, but it might save lives.

Alternatively, it might be the PA rota that has to be abandoned. The PA and the disabled person may have to self-isolate together, but this assumes a lot about the PAs own life circumstances as well as about the availability of PAs for 1-to-1 support rather than a rota of visits.

Perhaps as a start, for self-isolating disabled people, the maximum amount of assistive equipment (self-operated hoists, etc) should be deployed out of official storage and into homes as a matter of urgency.

Research Bulletin, February 2020


At the risk of being a bit presumptive, I thought it might be best if I started writing a general message periodically on current research projects, rather than sending out lots of separate emails. Feedback welcomed.

So, here goes…

1. 1960s. For the 50th anniversary events about Alf Morris’ Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 I have been researching the campaigns by disabled people in the 1960s which informed these new legal rights. A 12-page draft research paper was currently being circulated to interested individuals, and this is the February *draft*:

2020-02-12 Alf Morris MP and National Campaign for the Young Chronic Sick (v Feb Final)

2. 1980s. Following an interesting conversation with Dorothy Whitaker last year about the Metrolink access campaign in the 1980s and a key lobby meeting in November 1984, A 14-page draft research paper is being circulated to interested individuals who were mostly there at the time, ditto as above. I’m thinking next about the Disability Design Reference Group run by Breakthrough UK for Transport for Greater Manchester, set up in 2008 in part to engage better and earlier with disabled people’s transport concerns, and whether this new research needs to dovetail with any DDRG agenda. Drawing in part on papers in the Kevin Hyett Collection. Feedback welcomed, as ever.

3. 1990s. I’ve been working on a timeline for DAN events and people, DAN being the disabled people’s Direct Action Network. Many thanks to Gill Crawshaw, Leeds, for her loan of her extensive collection of DAN papers and photos, a full copy of which is now in the GMCDP Archive. Similarly thanks to John Smith, Notts. Alan Holdsworth is in the UK soon so a weekend catch-up is planned with a former DAN member hosting (invitation only) to add to the DAN Collection.

4. 1970s. Maggie Davis’ book called “To and From Grove Road” is now launched with details of her and Ken’s campaign for and achievement of independent living before direct payments. Her Collection of papers is now in the GMCDP Archive. Free pdf online.

5. 1970s. Working with Judy Hunt on maybe publishing some further writings by Paul Hunt, plus looking at republishing Stigma, a book by 12 disabled people which he edited in 1966. Some details still confidential.

6. 1970s. With Maggie Davis directing, looking to publish a book of Ken Davis’ poetry. A draft version was made for their family for Christmas.

7. 1980s. The Philip Mason Collection within the GMCDP Archive will be added to soon with a new file of 93 letters by Philip about Independent Living, and especially around the campaigns for the Independent Living Fund, established in 1988. (Sadly, now abolished.) This is a closed file because some aspects are personal, genuine research by disabled people would be allowed with ethical restrictions. Thanks to John Evans for facilitating.

8. 1960s-to date. With some good friends we have been preparing a timeline of radical mental health organisations in and around Manchester from the 1960s, including cataloguing some existing archives and hopefully building some new ones. Working group meets monthly, by invitation.

9. Plus some confidential ‘irons in the fire’ which will be reported by myself or various DPOs if and when appropriate, including some possible TV and film items.

Flying in the face of reason

We know we have a climate emergency. We know we need to move from plans to action today. But some actions will be difficult to implement, and perhaps the hardest, in the world of work, will be on reducing Corporate Air Travel – CAT.

CAT is currently the life blood of some organisations and sectors. But it is poisoned blood for the planet. The micro is in conflict with the macro.

Some changes are easy if there is an alternative choice. Electric instead of diesel. Public transport (where it exists) instead of private. More insulation instead of more heating. CAT has some alternatives, such as telephone and video calls, and surface travel options such as rail and shipping.

One of the characteristics we value at work is when people show their calm resilience when dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty. For some businesses CAT will be the hardest test of this resilience. Because there isn’t a simple plan B, even though keeping to plan A is fatal.

Perhaps the most honest approach for any business is to say something like – We will reduce our CAT by x% every year starting today, even though none of us yet know precisely how this will change our business, and of course we will continue to look for sustainable growth opportunities through these uncertain changes.”

This is a time when inspiring leaders are needed.