“The Personal Assistant Service Is Often The Difference Between Existing And Living”

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From top: Thomas Pringle TD; filmmaker Paddy Slattery, right, on set directing his debut feature film Broken Law

Tomorrow in the Dáil.

Donegal Independent TD Thomas Pringle will be tabling a motion for the right to a personal assistance service for people with disabilities in Ireland.

The motion calls on the Dáil to legislate for the establishment of a commissioner of independent living within the Department of Social Protection tasked with establishing a comprehensive personal assistance service (PAS).

The motion can be read in full here.

Ahead of tomorrow’s motion, award-winning filmmaker Paddy Slattery, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, writes:

“Imagine being told you don’t have a right to lead an independent life.

Imagine being told you don’t have a right to design your own daily/nightly routine.

Imagine being told your basic needs will be met on someone else’s limited and degrading terms, if at all.

Imagine your life’s goals and ambitions having to be curtailed or moulded around someone else’s limited schedule.

Well, people with disabilities in Ireland (myself included) don’t have to imagine because without a Personal Assistant Service (PAS) we would be incapable of undertaking the most basic of physical or sensory needs without relying heavily on help from our family, our friends and nurses.

I happen to be one of the very fortunate few living with a disability and provided with a PAS. Without it, I may as well kiss my ambitions of filmmaking goodbye. I may as well do our government a favour, curl up in a ball and die.

You see, our government believes we shouldn’t have a right to a Personal Assistance Service. In fact, our government considers it an unnecessary expense and would much rather spend a hell of a lot more of our Tax payer’s money (yes, I also pay tax) on institutional care and carer related services.

What this actually means is that people like me should be “looked after” or “nursed” on a very limited and set schedule, because they don’t think our basic human rights and needs should be met or even recognized as WE see fit.

This is 2019. Not 1919. We are capable of deciding what’s best for US.

What does Independent Living actually mean for people with a disability?

Independent Living is about people with disabilities having the freedom of CHOICE in terms of housing, transportation, education and employment.

Independent living is about choosing what aspects of social, economic and political life people with disabilities want to participate in.

It’s about having control over your life, to have a family, to get a job, to participate socially and to realise your goals and dreams.

For many people with disabilities, Independent Living can be best achieved through the Personal Assistance Service (PAS).

A PA does not “look after” or “care for” me. With the PAS, WE are in control and direct the PA to carry out tasks both inside and outside of the home, including personal care, domestic duties, assisting in day-to-day tasks such as shopping, support in the workplace or socialising.

A distinct benefit of PAS is that it reduces dependence on family and friends. The confidential relationship that develops between us and our PAs allows us to maintain a private life and our dignity.

The PAS is often the difference between existing and living.

Some not-so fun facts:

Because our government doesn’t recognize the right to a Personal Assistant Service, it currently operates as a Pilot Project which renders it ineffective for most people availing of the service.

In 2017, 84 percent of those in receipt of a PA service received less than three hours a day and 42 percent of these people were in receipt of between one and five hours a week. This is only an average of 42 minutes a day.

As far back as 1996, it was identified that an average need for 10 hours of PA service per person per week could only respond to essential personal care needs, not quality of life requirements and it would certainly not enable full participation in the community.

Currently there is no legal right to personal assistance in Ireland. There is no standardized procedure or application process and those in receipt of this support have no security regarding the continuation or extent of their service due to lack of legislative protection.

So what now?

Tomorrow a motion will be brought before the Dáil to debate our right to a Personal Assistance Service (PAS). Right now we all need to become active and let our elected representatives know that this is a human rights issue.

We need you to mobilise friends and family to email your local TDs to ensure they participate in the debate and vote in favour of the Motion.

This is URGENT as this is our opportunity to have our voice heard!

We are simply asking our TDs to support this disability rights campaign. We need our TDs to be part of the debate when the motion is put to the Dáil tomorrow.

If you have read this extremely important appeal, thank you so much for your time.

Please share this message and feel free to tag any politicians you might know on social media.”

Pic: David Foley

Previously: Life In The Moment

Thanks Paddy

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