In the UK there are over 11 million people living with a disability. Disabilities vary greatly in their presentation and the amount of care and support needed depends on each individual. Caring for someone with a disability can be stressful. Here at Harley Street Care we provide bespoke disability care in London for individuals with various support needs.
Do you, or someone you care about, live with a disability?
An injury that has happened to the brain (or spinal cord) after birth. The causes of an ABI are numerous and may include: traumatic head injury, a stroke, or a tumour. The effects of an ABI can vary, from minor impairment of a person’s normal functionality to a more devastating disability.
An acquired brain injury can cause:
- Cognitive impairment
- Coma and reduced states of awareness
- Communication difficulties
- Emotional changes
- Physical effects
- Hormonal imbalances
- Memory problems
- Difficulty making decisions
As with all disabilities, acquired brain injuries affect people in ways that are unique to them only. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ care-package for those experiencing difficulties. With this is mind, it is important that a person leaving hospital with an ABI has a care plan put in place to specifically address their individual needs and preferences.
As a musculoskeletal condition, arthritis can affect people at any age, however, it more commonly affects older people. Arthritis is term that is used to denote inflammation in the joints and it often presents as one of two types:
- Osteoarthritis : Affecting 8 million people in the UK
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Affecting around 400,000 people
Depending on the type of arthritis you have, you may experience a range of symptoms that affect your both your enjoyment of life and your mobility.
Common symptoms are:
- Joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
- Inflammation in and around the joints
- Restricted movement of the joints
- Warm, red skin over the affected joint
- Weakness and muscle wasting
Arthritis can get progressively worse with age and can have a serious effect on mobility. In these circumstances, people may require additional support in their day-to-day activities.
Cerebral Palsy is a condition that can occur during foetal development, during birth, or, immediately after birth. People with cerebral palsy vary greatly regarding the level of disability they experience. Affecting the parts of the brain that are responsible for muscle control, people with CP typically experience difficulty with movement.
There may be:
- Muscle stiffness (hypertonia)
- Muscle floppiness (hypotonia)
- Uncontrolled body movements
- Problems with balance and co-ordination
Whilst some people with Cerebral Palsy may experience related learning difficulties and/or physical barriers to effective communication, many are not intellectually affected by their disability.
Cerebral Palsy is a life-long condition and though many people with CP learn to manage their disability well, they may require additional assistance with some aspects of their living.
A group of inherited genetic conditions that cause a deterioration of the muscle. MD varies greatly in its severity and as such can be barely noticeable or cause considerable immobility. In the UK there are 70,000 people living with MD, or a related condition.
As with any disability, physical disability increases the possibility that one may require assistance with their living. This assistance may be from time-to-time or for 24 hours a day – no two people with disabilities are the same.
Physical disability can also be experienced as a restriction of the proper enjoyment of the senses.
Sensory and Learning Disabilities
Visual impairment affects about 2 million people in the UK. Of this number, many have potentially reversible cataracts whilst others have correctable refractive errors.
Around 360,000 people in the UK are registered as blind or partially sighted. These people experience severe, or total, loss of sight which is irreversible.
- 1 in 5 people over 75 are affected by sight loss. This number rises to 1 in 2 people over the age of 90
- There is a link between sight loss and reduced wellbeing. Over one-third of older people with sight loss are also living with depression
- Two-thirds of working aged people who are registered as blind or partially sighted are not in paid employment
Being diagnosed with a visual disability can cause many different emotions; shock, grief, anxiety and a fear of what the future holds are all common.
Whether in the early days of a diagnosis or later on, there are many organisations which can provide excellent support and assistance for people experiencing any type of visual impairment.
Whilst it’s important that those who are registered as blind or partially sighted maintain their independence and autonomy, it may be that they feel that they need a little extra support to carry on living life to their full enjoyment.
Hearing loss happens to many of us at some point in our lives, affecting approximately one in six people. Older people are most commonly affected by hearing loss and, here in the UK, around 4 out of 10 people over the age of 50 experience difficulty hearing.
Hearing loss occurs when there is a fault with the sensory signals from the ears reaching the brain. There are two types of hearing loss:
- Sensorineural: – This type of hearing loss is experienced when the sensitive hair cells of the inner ear have been damaged or when there is damage to the auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss becomes more common as we age.
- Conductive: – Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a barrier to sounds passing from the outer ear to the inner ear. This could be because of a blockage, a perforated ear drum, or a disorder in the development of the ear.
Deafness can also be an inherited condition which affects a child from birth. Regardless of the severity, or the type of hearing loss a person experiences, there are many ways that people can cope with their disability. With the right support, people with hearing loss can live life with as few restrictions as possible.
A learning disability is recognised as an impairment of the intellectual functioning of a person. Ranging from very mild, to severe and profound, learning disabilities affect around 1.5 million people in the UK.
People with mild learning disabilities may function very well and need little additional support in their daily lives. However, those with severe disability may require up to 24-hour care.
Learning disabilities are caused by abnormal development of the brain, either before birth or in early childhood. They can occur for a whole host of reasons:
- A mother becoming ill during pregnancy
- Inheriting certain genes
- Restricted oxygen during birth
- Early childhood meningitis
- Epilepsy – 30% of people with epilepsy also have a LD
- Downs syndrome
- Alongside cerebral palsy
- Autism – some people with autism also have a related LD
Regardless of the cause or severity of a learning disability there are ever increasing ways of accessing support and assistance to help you cope.
58,000 people across the UK access day care services. However, 7 out of 10 families with a member with profound and multiple learning disabilities admit to reaching crisis point due to a lack of respite services. With this in mind, it is important that adequate resources are available for those with learning disabilities, and their families.