A different way of doing things

Published on 16 Sep 2014

The first thing I learnt having a significant life long impairment is that to succeed in the world as a credible disability consultant and activist is that I had to do things differently to make the most of my situation. Time, energy and of course money are the three things in my life I never have enough of and therefore I have needed to find often creative ways to use these resources as effectively as I can.

When the ability to shave off a few minutes or just seconds of a task, can mount up into a lot of free time, I have always been looking for the next thing I can do quicker or easier. This requires the ability to be prepared to use specialist or mainstream equipment in ways it was never intended, as well as doing things is ways often opposite to how I was brought up to do them. As a businessman who dribbles and make messes easily, a dichotomy in itself, I had to find ways to look the part in a manner that does not compromise my identity as someone with cerebral palsy, as well as keeping me physically and emotionally well.

There are many examples of how I use equipment in ways the average person may find unusual. These include wearing nappies when I go out as a precaution and to capture any leaks after going to the loo, using a big plastic smock with sleeves when I eat before an important meeting so I am at least clean at the start of it, wear a swimming hat in the shower if I have to go straight out in the winter to avoid catching a cold, using cups with lids with straws so I can actually network at networking events, and so much more, maybe more than I realise because I been using them so long.

For those new to their impairments, and indeed some who always been impaired, this way of thinking may be alien to them and I believe it is, or rather should be, the role of social workers to have an arsenal of ideas and suggestions up their sleeves that can help people have a better quality of living from a very small investment. In providing service users suggestions in this way, it may assist them to require less formal support while at the same time, improving their situation.

This is because at the end of the day, social care is about providing a better quality of living, and if users are getting that, they will not be interested in the amount of care and money they are receiving, because that can not always buy the satisfaction that doing things a bit differently can bring. It is however important to remember no one solution will work for everyone, and it is important to assist users to find the solutions that work for them and that they are happy to use.