According talks about proposing to his girlfriend in

According to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, a
person has a disability if he has “a physical or mental impairment which has a
substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal
day-to-day activities.” Many people face issues around living with a disability.
These issues are not only a result of specific impairments, but also arise from
social factors such as attitudes, stigmas and physical barriers. The NHS values
aim to ensure that excellent care is consistently provided, and that such
issues are minimized. As such, the issues around living with a disability will
be discussed by linking them to the NHS values and to the two videos. 


A major issue disabled people are often faced with is
that of having to overcome negative attitudes or prejudices. An example of a
negative attitude or prejudice towards disabled people is the common assumption
that disabled people do not have any interest in forming long term
relationships. In Alex Brooker’s interview, Alex talks about proposing to his
girlfriend in New York. Alex clearly does not fit this common stereotype.
Seeing a group of people as homogenous is dangerous, and as outlined in NHS
values, it is important to value every person “as an individual, respect their
aspirations and commitments in life, and seek to understand their priorities,
needs, abilities, and limits.” Similarly, people often wrongly assume that
those with aphasia are less intelligent because of their impaired ability to
speak and understand others. However, it would be extremely disrespectful and
demeaning to treat someone with aphasia as less intelligent, and this would
only cause the person to feel more ashamed of their disability. It is thus important
to remember that because someone has a disability, it does not mean they should
be deemed or treated as less capable. 

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The issues a disabled person is faced with can depend
on whether the disability is visible and invisible, and thus it is important to
make a distinction between the two. When people think of a disabled person,
what often comes to mind is, for example, a wheelchair user. The impairment in
this case is likely highly visible or obvious, such as Alex’s impairment,
seeing as it is physical in nature. For people with physical disabilities,
things are often put in place in public spaces such as wheelchair ramps, wider
doors, and disabled parking spaces. However, some impairments are invisible in
nature, as is Henry’s aphasia. People with invisible disabilities may often
feel forgotten about or left out. When the disability is apparent, people may
look at the disabled person, feel sorry for them, show empathy, and offer to
help. However, those with an invisible disability may feel ashamed to draw
attention to the fact that they have an impairment. As a result, they may fail
to seek help, or socially isolate themselves due to the stigma surrounding
having a disability. For example, many people with aphasia remain isolated, worried that they won’t be
understood or given extra time to speak. This is why the NHS values
stress the importance of making sure that “everyone counts,” and that nobody
“is left behind.”


Furthermore, the issues faced by disabled people can
differ depending on whether the disability is acquired or whether the person
has grown up with it. Those who were born with a disability, and have grown up
with it, like Alex, often cope better than those that all of a sudden find
themselves disabled, like Henry after his second stroke. An acquired disability,
such as Henry’s, can cause great frustration, as the person cannot, for
example, do certain things in the same way as they could before. Additionally,
they may no longer be able to carry out what was previously a trivial task,
such as being understood on the phone. They may also have to rely a lot more on
other people. Furthermore, frustration may arise when someone such as Henry
feels they are unable to communicate and get across what they are feeling, or when
the progress of their rehabilitation seems very slow. The NHS values highlight
the importance of ensuring that “compassion is central to the care” provided,
and that “each person’s pain, distress, anxiety or need”, be responded to with
“humanity and kindness.” In Henry’s case, for example, it is important that one
understands and sympathises with his fears and frustrations, and that these be responded
to with kindness.


Finally, another issue faced by disabled people is
lack of adequate support or help available. Henry, for example, points out that
he doesn’t know what he would have done without his family’s help. Some people,
however, may not be lucky to have help from family or friends, and therefore,
as stated in the NHS values, it is crucial to make sure that “nobody is
excluded, discriminated against or left behind.” For example, in Henry’s case,
it is extremely important to ensure that care will be continued once he has
left hospital. In fact, the video informs us that Henry continues to receive
speech therapy in the community. It is equally important in Alex’s case to
ensure support is provided and that necessary special equipment is put in place
in his home. This is outlined in the “working together for patients” section
where it is stated that “patients, staff, families, carers, communities, and
professionals inside and outside the NHS” must be fully involved. Furthermore,
it is stressed that the “needs of patients and communities” must come before
“organisational boundaries”. 


Living with a
disability presents many challenges to those affected. Issues such as negative
attitudes, stigmas, and physical barriers can lead to different difficulties
depending on the nature of the disability, that is whether it is visible or
invisible, or whether the person has grown up with it or it is acquired. The
values set out in the NHS ensure such issues are reduced to a minimum, that
excellent care is provided to those in need, and, that as a result, lives are
improved. This is why it is crucial that the values of the NHS constitution are
embedded in all the work that staff and students do.