Press release: University of Bedfordshire, Disabled parents often seen as risk to their children rather than given support, report warns

Health and social care services are failing disabled parents and their children, a report published today suggests.

Disabled parents told the report’s authors that health and adult social care professionals assessing their needs often ignore the parenting implications of their impairment and fail to communicate with their counterparts in children’s services.

Meanwhile, children’s social care professionals too often see the parents’ impairment as a potential risk to their children and prioritise monitoring over meaningful parenting support that would keep families together and avoid crisis interventions. Disabled people are therefore too anxious to seek support for fear they will be seen as failing.

The research was undertaken by the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work & Social Care at the University of Bedfordshire and Ginger Giraffe, an organisation that brings together disabled people with health and social care students on placement.

The funding was provided by the DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme, a £5m scheme led by disabled people and funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

The report includes accounts from disabled parents, including those with mental health problems. It shows that health and social care professionals are not following government guidelines around family assessments and eligibility for social care support.

One parent told researchers: “You don’t want to call social services, you are scared to call them because they might think you are incapable of looking after the child, so you have to struggle with what you have… because then they will say, ‘we told you she’s disabled, she can’t look after her child’, so there’s always that element of fear, of ‘shall I or shall I not?”.

The report concludes that children are largely invisible to adult social care and health professionals. One parent with mental health problems said that when she was sectioned she was asked if she had any pets that required care but not about her children.

Social care professionals planning post-discharge support for a mother of two children who had broken her back decided she should receive meals on wheels – but that food would not be provided for her children.

The same woman told the research team of a later experience: “Somebody knocked on the door and they said they were a children’s social worker. I panicked, I thought ‘what did I do wrong for them to come in?’, and I asked, ‘who sent you here?’ and they said, ‘Oh it’s because you are disabled’.”

Director of the Tilda Goldberg Centre at Bedfordshire, Professor Emily Munro said: “It was shocking to find that many disabled parents were often too scared to ask for help from social services for fear of being judged unfit to look after their children. There needs to be a more collaborative working relationship between children’s social care and adult services to ensure disabled parents can access the vital they need in order to fulfil their parenting role.”

Director of Ginger Giraffe Dan Vale added: “The power of this research is that it is truly coproduced by our disabled parents and the social work professionals, resulting in an authentic and eye-opening account of the experiences of a group of dedicated mothers and fathers whose disability proves no barrier to parenting, but for whom support was haphazard and ill-coordinated.”

Sue Bott from Disability Rights UK said: “This research gives a much-needed voice to disabled parents. Now professionals and policymakers need to listen to them. While we recognise the complex demands facing health and social care professionals, they should work with each other and with disabled parents to provide the support that keeps families together”.

 

#DRILL HASHTAG FEED

Tweets from @drill_uk

Spinner Loading new posts...
NDTi Research NDTi Research @NdtiResearch

‘Supporting people with learning disabilities to have positive sexual relationships’ – new blog by Anna Marriott fr… https://t.co/6WeklWVjpg

4 weeks ago
DRILL UK DRILL UK @drill_uk

@CforWR a #Drilluk & @TNLComFund are delighted to share their first publication from the Chronic Illness inclusion… https://t.co/9384X63ZsM

1 month ago
InclusionScotland InclusionScotland @InclusionScot

Here are the 3 key findings from @toiletsonthego research. Public toilets can be:
Slide 1. Difficult to find and ac… https://t.co/halmrYWgGu

1 month ago
InclusionScotland InclusionScotland @InclusionScot

Congratulations and well done to the team @toiletsonthego for a fantastic launch of their #APublicInconvenience res… https://t.co/ohsRK46g4U

1 month ago
Disability Action NI Disability Action NI @disabilityni

The @drill_uk team is in Belfast today @QUBelfast to hear about the positive projects being funded through the… https://t.co/Bpk3NFHsjf

1 month ago
Chronic Illness Inclusion Project Chronic Illness Inclusion Project @chronicinclude

We are in Belfast!
Huge thanks to the team at #drilluk for bringing me and @VictoriaClutton here to share our rese… https://t.co/o9FA8jmvqh

1 month ago
Disability Action NI Disability Action NI @disabilityni

@mencap_charity is running a national survey of people with a learning disability in the UK. Read how you can take… https://t.co/YtlgTjBSsm

2 months ago
Disability Action NI Disability Action NI @disabilityni

Mutual benefits: The Potential of disabled people as foster carers – a #Drilluk project by @worcester_uni based on… https://t.co/MA23j94rpX

2 months ago
DRILL UK DRILL UK @drill_uk

A #Drilluk project by @worcester_uni based on the potential for disabled people as foster carers has featured in an… https://t.co/IMwprXL4RD

2 months ago
Disability Action NI Disability Action NI @disabilityni

We want to hear what disabled people in N.Ireland have to say on “How attitudes in the adult social care system imp… https://t.co/phsWZZ3naJ

2 months ago
DRILL UK DRILL UK @drill_uk

Do you want to have your say about adult social care? Are you a disabled person in NI & have experience of adult so… https://t.co/Q9seeDzz9v

2 months ago
LevelsAreHigh LevelsAreHigh @ScarcityStudios

Check the full story here . 1000s more views then the biggest bloggers in uk with half the subs #reach #drillukhttps://t.co/UMHJs1xZSx

3 months ago
DRILL UK DRILL UK @drill_uk

@MartinSLewis we are a @TNLComFund 4 nations research programme called #Drilluk it is led by disabled people for di… https://t.co/ORZJ9DfDIH

4 months ago
DRILL UK DRILL UK @drill_uk

It’s Tonight! Don’t miss out on the #Drilluk disability talk show. We’ll be telling funny stories relating to disab… https://t.co/UMfii90Rz4

4 months ago
DRILL UK DRILL UK @drill_uk

We’ll be talking movies, buses, street clutter and tennis finals. Come along and join in the conversation at the… https://t.co/WGxTsexNjt

4 months ago
DRILL UK DRILL UK @drill_uk

Speakers for the #Drilluk Disability Chat Show are Patricia Bray, June Best, @DrC_82, Danny O’Neill and Tony O’Reil… https://t.co/oGOrVsatme

4 months ago
DRILL UK DRILL UK @drill_uk

Are you a researcher in a #Drilluk funded project? @Disabilitywales is conducting research into the experiences of… https://t.co/br7vwcC45Q

4 months ago
DRILL UK DRILL UK @drill_uk

What’s Roger Federer, heavy metal, shopping and body boarding got in common? Come along to the #Drilluk Disability… https://t.co/XBIWLijOZ2

4 months ago
DRILL UK DRILL UK @drill_uk

Come along to the #drilluk & @UniAtypical Disability Talk Show, have your voice heard & lets help change attitudes.… https://t.co/ZU8xAjohCP

4 months ago
DRILL UK DRILL UK @drill_uk

#Drilluk Is the world’s first major research programme led by disabled people. We are a 4 nation programme & are ve… https://t.co/J02a9fep4S

4 months ago
DRILL UK DRILL UK @drill_uk

Thank you @mentalhealth a #Drilluk & #TNLComFund funded project for this great blog highlighting the important rol… https://t.co/IKNYRNWoUi

4 months ago