We often talk about disability as if it’s a lifelong condition. In fact, more than 80% of people with a disability were born without it and find they have to adjust.
If you become disabled through accident, illness or a deteriorating medical condition, life will change significantly. But with the right support, you can often continue to live in your own home, remain in employment and enjoy an independent life.
Coping emotionally with a new disability
At first, you may feel confused, depressed or anxious about your life in the future. ”Disability can arise in a number of ways, but the huge psychological impact should never be neglected,” says Wendy Gross from the National Centre for Independent Living, a disability rights group.”Often, newly disabled people shy away from organisations that might help them. But contact with people who face similar challenges is really important.”Charities such as Disability Rights UK can help you contact organisations that are relevant to your disability.Sometimes a new disability can also affect a person’s mental health. If this becomes a concern, your GP or a Counsellor can help.
Practical support to help you adjust to a disability
Often, practical help with day-to-day tasks is what makes it possible for you to keep living independently in your own home. Your disability may entitle you to state-funded practical support from health and social care services. This might include special equipment, adaptations to your home, and home care visits to help with things such as shopping, cleaning and dealing with personal hygiene.
The first step is to ask social services at your local council to arrange a health and social care assessment. You’ll be visited by an occupational therapist and receive a written care plan stating what you’re entitled to. You can learn more about support to help you remain independent in your own home by reading Independent living.Find out more about community care assessments.
Help with your finances
A new disability could mean a reduction to your income. It could also mean an increase in the cost of day-to-day life.
You could be entitled to financial support to meet the costs that arise as a direct result of your disability. This could include the Disability Living Allowance if you’re under 65 and have problems with personal care or mobility, or the Attendance Allowance if you’re over 65.
You could also be entitled to VAT relief on products and services associated with your disability, as well as lower council tax.
Through the direct payments scheme, you can get money from the local council to fund your own care, including employing your own care assistants rather than relying on the council to arrange it for you. This gives you more control over the care and equipment you receive.
Personal health budget scheme
The personal health budget scheme was recently introduced to help people manage their care in a way that suits them by drawing up a care plan with their NHS health team.
You can use a personal health budget to pay for a wide range of items and services, including therapies, personal care and equipment. This will allow you more choice and control over the health services and care you receive.
Find out how to manage your personal health budget.
Life with a new disability
Disability will inevitably bring new challenges, but it should never stop you living a happy fulfilling life.
Charities such as the Shaw Trust can provide information about employment for people with disabilities. And the English Federation of Disability Sport is proof that disability needn’t stop you having an active lifestyle.
It’s against the law for anyone to discriminate against you because of your disability. This means that you’re entitled to fair treatment in the workplace when it comes to recruitment, promotion and pay.
It also means that service providers, such as shops, post offices, leisure facilities and places of worship, are legally obliged to ensure that you can reach them.
Adapted from NHS.2014