COVID Special Issue May 2020 - (4)

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Disability Rights UK (DRUK) – News In Brief   
To contact Disability Rights UK (DR UK) see

Local Organisations with an involvement in Disability and Health support services across Surrey are encouraged to submit regular reports and updates. Are you arranging ‘virtual’ open meetings and events? – let us help to publicise them at our Forum Page 

Nominate any ‘Local Heroes’ at our Forum Page 

SCAN is conscious that groups represented at the Spelthorne Forum are experiencing a range of challenges at the moment and will continue to do so for at least the next 12 weeks.

Please contact me on or text me on 07853 038933.

Disabled people are being "judged" and forced to explain their situation when trying to safely buy food at supermarkets during the coronavirus pandemic, a leading disability charity has warned.

From risking their health because they can’t get delivery slots, to facing negativity from other shoppers, buying food and essentials continues to be a source of enormous worry for many disabled people who are left feeling vulnerable by the experience, new research by Scope suggests.

More than one in three (36 per cent) disabled shoppers surveyed by Scope said long queues were aggravating their conditions or impairments, with 26 per cent saying they have faced negative attitudes from other shoppers.

Supermarkets have introduced priority delivery slots and dedicated shopping hours for vulnerable customers, with some offering assisted shopping for those in need, but many disabled people are still finding food shopping a difficult experience. Scope has called on supermarkets to develop a "consistent and co-ordinated approach" for disabled customers, and to expand their lists of vulnerable people who are eligible for help.

James Taylor, Scope’s Executive Director of strategy, impact and social change said: “Shopping is already a difficult task for many disabled people, and now many are telling us they feel judged and compelled to explain their condition just to be able to shop safely. It’s crucial that new rules to protect people, such as asking people to queue outside supermarkets, don’t make it harder or impossible for disabled people to shop. The Government and supermarkets need to listen to disabled people and develop a consistent and co-ordinated approach and urgently act to expand its ‘vulnerable’ list, to make sure all disabled people can safely get the food and essentials they need.”

The iNews has approached the Government Equalities Office for comment.

We are the leading charity of its kind in the UK. We are run by and for people with lived experience of disability or health conditions.

Our key decisions are made through our members who elect the Board of Trustees: and by our Senior Management Team.

We work with our members to influence national policy on independent living, benefits, education, employment, transport, human rights and other issues – shaping policy through direct experience and expertise.

We also work with our local individual and organisation members to empower and to influence local policy and services.

To contact Disability Rights UK (DR UK) see

Disability Rights UK (DRUK) – News In Brief

Safer Use of Walking Frames: University of Salford publish guidance documents
The University of Salford have been involved in a research project relating to the safer use of walking frames. Senior Research Fellow, Sibylle Theis Phd, provides an update on the project to date.

Informed by our research over the last few years and based on feedback from healthcare professionals, we have now completed development of two guidance documents concerned with safer use of walking frames, and have also developed associated training videos and a web page that holds all resources (leaflets and videos). Specifically, we developed the following two documents:

1) a Safety Information Leaflet for users of front-wheeled walking frames, and

2) a Good-Practice-Guide for those involved in prescription of these frame and training of users.

Each document is supported by a video guide. All resources (documents and videos) can be accessed via the following web page:

We hope these resources are a first step towards safer use of front-wheeled walking frames. Please feel free to share this web site on your page and/or within any newsletters or correspondences with relevant organizations that may benefit from these resources. Especially now where face-to-face consultations are limited due to the Coronavirus these electronic resources could come in handy during phone consultations or similar.

For help or advice please visit our website: You can also call us on 0161 607 8200.

Here are the five tests outlined by the Government, and how far away the UK is from meeting their criteria:

1) The NHS has the capacity to provide critical care right across the UK
The first test is whether Britain has the capacity to look after those seriously ill with coronavirus - which can be measured by spare beds in intensive care.

Hospitals have not been overwhelmed by patients so far in the pandemic, and in some places have been aided by the opening of the new NHS Nightingales.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday that there were 3,190 spare critical care beds in the health service, and that in most parts of the country, the number of people in hospital with coronavirus is beginning to fall.

This test, therefore, appears to have been met.

2) A Sustained And Consistent Fall In Daily Deaths
Scientists estimate that England's daily hospital death toll peaked around 8 April, and it has been very steadily falling since.

However, the picture is less clear when deaths in the community are included, with some suggestions that deaths in care homes may still be increasing.

More data is needed to be clear whether this test has been met.

3) The Rate Of Infection Decreased To Manageable Levels Across The Board The "R" value - or infection rate - is now thought to be somewhere between 0.5 and 1, meaning that each person infected with the virus passes it on to less than one other person. This in turn means the total number of cases is falling. But, if R rises above 1, there could be another exponential rise in infections.

It is likely this test has been met across the board, but the Government will be extremely anxious to ensure the rate of infection does not rise again.

4) Operational Challenges Including Testing And PPE Are In Hand With Supply Able To Meet Future Demand
While more than a billion items of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been distributed, concerns over shortages remain - particularly among care home staff.

Given the global spread of the disease, operational challenges in sourcing PPE may continue for some time. So far, this test does not appear to have been met.

5) Confident That Any Adjustments To The Current Measures Will Not Risk A Second Peak Of Infections
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he would not risk a second peak in the disease by relaxing restrictions too quickly. However, Downing Street came in for questioning a day later when it published its "five tests" document with altered wording, leading to speculation the Government is preparing to ease the lockdown restrictions.

Rather than stating that ministers had to be confident an adjustment would not "risk a second peak of infections", the wording was changed to say no weakening of restrictions would be made that would risk a second peak that "overwhelms the NHS".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said during the No 10 press conference that the NHS had coped with the first peak of infections, which is thought to have occurred around Easter.

The Government's scientific advisers are presenting a series of options to ministers about easing lockdown measures, a combination of which would keep the R value below 1.

Ministers could use the new advice issued to them, along with the altered wording, to lift a number of the social distancing measures in place and help get Britain back to work.

James Groff, a graduate student at Gallaudet University (a school for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals) in Washington DC is deaf and blind and because of social distancing expectations, he often can’t rely on touch.

If you peeked into a building on the university’s campus on a recent day, you would have seen a 6ft3 man crawling on the floor. He was not hurt. He was not sick. He was trying to find his name on a case of water. During another time, the task would have been easy enough. The case had been left for him in a building not far from his dorm. The problem was that his case was not the only one there, which meant he had to locate the one bearing his name, and he had to do that with limited use of three of his senses.

“I had to get on my hands and knees to be able to read each one without touching it,” Groff says. “I am a grown man and can provide for myself and find or make ways. But this was hard for me to do since I could not touch what was not mine, yet I had to be close enough to see my name. If it is that hard for me, imagine how hard it is for someone more medically blind than I am.”

Groff, who hopes to one day become a US senator, describes himself as DeafBlind, with both words capitalised and combined to convey not only his disabilities but also a sense of cultural identity. The DeafBlind community includes people who have zero ability to see and hear, and those who have so little that they have been medically deemed deaf and blind.

Groff describes his vision as “a mix between being underwater and getting shot while playing Call of Duty”. Everything is blurry. He can’t see lips well enough to read them or tell if someone near him is laughing. He needs touch to do that.

He uses his hands to get his bearings in unfamiliar environments and to communicate. Like many people in the DeafBlind community, Groff often relies on Pro-tactile American Sign Language, which incorporates hand-on-body motions to convey what the eye and ear can’t detect. To signal to Groff that someone is laughing, an interpreter trained in that form of tactile sign language would make a motion that resembles a tickle. “Without signals like this,” Groff says, “I might miss out partially or wholly on what is happening around me.”

Rossana Reis, a retired counsellor and advocate turned artist who lives in Washington, has already devised a backup communication plan in case she ends up at the hospital. She plans to use a device that would allow her to communicate through typing. Even so, she has questions. “I’ve been reading stories of how doctors speak behind a glass and not sure how much the mic will transmit speech into text from a distance,” she says. “Would the medical staff be willing to type on my device if it comes to that? Otherwise, I’m learning that many hospitals across the nation are not allowing interpreters in treatment areas. That would be problematic for me, as I am not able to rely on remote interpreting via video.”

The experiences of the DeafBlind community may be unique, but their concerns shouldn’t be theirs alone.

Adult Social Care – Information And Engagement Team
Please vist the Surrey Adult Social Care Team Special Bulletins page on this website