During this unprecedented lockdown, serious concerns have been raised across society about the social care of the country’s most marginalised and vulnerable groups; and the safety and protection of those who provide their care.
Despite this, provisions within the Coronavirus Act 2020 undermine the Equality Act 2010 and the Care Act 2014, which guarantees disabled people and other marginalised groups the right to appropriate social care and support, and for their social care needs to be met.
The Act stipulates that local authorities will only have to provide care ‘if they consider it necessary’. The Act allows health bodies to delay assessment for continuing care in the NHS. In addition, duties relating to young people transitioning into adult social care have been suspended. People can also be detained under the Mental Health Act using one doctor’s opinion instead of two ensuring that it is easier to detain people. There is also potential for releasing people into the community from mental health care too early, or for people in care staying in care for longer than necessary.
The mantra of ‘we can do’ and ‘let’s stick together’ oft repeated by the ableist and most powerful in society during this pandemic, runs contrary to the provisions within the Act and will likely ensure that the most marginalised in society will be worst off.
Ironically, the real experts of ‘lockdown’ are the disabled and marginalised. Perhaps we should be listening to their voices, and drawing on their expertise and knowledge, during this global crisis instead?
Dr Michael Richards is a Senior Lecturer in Health and Social Care and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Arts and Wellbeing at Edge Hill University.