Get yourself active blog

A session or class at the pool is an integral and highly valued part of the week for many

By Karen Oldale

Copy_of_St_George's_023You only have to see the smiles and to hear the conversations at St George’s community hydrotherapy pool in Peterborough to know that ‘getting active’ in the pool is improving the wellbeing of disabled people.

In a far-sighted move, Peterborough City Council opened the former school pool to the community some years ago. 250 disabled residents exercise there every week. The warm supportive water and relaxed friendly atmosphere allows everyone to enjoy physical activity. A session or class at the pool is an integral and highly valued part of the week for many. Some use their personal budgets to do this.

Of course, not everyone is able to visit the hydrotherapy pool to see and hear how it enriches lives. Conscious of the need for evidence, cuts to local spending and with an ageing pool we, as hydrotherapy users, decided to try to capture some of the outcomes that we experienced. We also wanted to give those using the pool an opportunity for their voice to be heard.

Working collaboratively with friends in health and care we designed a survey that was offered to everyone accessing the pool over the course of a week. The answers and testimonies were organized according to the outcomes experienced to create a report.

The results and the story that they told were powerful. The positive effects of using the pool included improved physical and mental wellbeing, independence and connections to the community. But as you will see, there were many more…

We hope that you will be interested and encouraged by our experiences of Getting Active.

Read the St George’s Copmmunity Hydropool Report and infographic.

A little bit about me

20160624_132600We know that physical activity is good for us but if you have a disability or health condition, finding something that you can do and enjoy can be harder. It certainly was for me…

It was only in the warm supportive water of the hydrotherapy pool that I finally discovered a way to be more physically active and have fun. It was quite literally – such a relief!

By exercising in a warm pool, I found a way not only to maintain my strength but also to manage my pain. This was important. I learned that being able to be free and active in the water, in a way that I could not on land and without causing pain, was energizing, relaxing and pleasant. Even if I was tired after a session, it was a good tired. I felt just so much better. Regular pool sessions enabled me to keep my medication and GP appointments to a bare minimum, and to postpone surgery. My energy and confidence increased; I was in control. Life was enjoyable.

I wondered if other people might benefit similarly; surely I was not alone. I wanted everyone to have the same opportunity and experience.  Fortunately, others in Peterborough listened and agreed and the rest is history…  St George’s pool opened to the community in 2011. Now 250 disabled people choose to use the pool every week and as their testimonies in the report shows, I was certainly not alone…

You can visit the St George’s Community Hydrotherapy Pool Website to find out more or follow them on twitter @Pborohydropool

Take part in Parallel London and fundraise for Disability Rights UK

Parallel LondonParallel London is a new disability-led event that has been specifically designed for anyone to participate, regardless of age, disability or health condition.

It is intended to be world’s first fully accessible and inclusive mass participation run and the inaugural event will be held on Sunday 4th September 2016 in London’s Olympic Park.

Disability Rights UK has secured some guaranteed (non-ballot) places which we are offering to members and supporters in exchange for a small registration fee and fundraising commitment.

There are a range of set distances you could choose, from 100m to 10k. Some of the reasons we think this will be fun are:

  • Running through the fantastic Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
  • Shared experience of participation rather than just running against the clock
  • Accessible and interactive day out featuring art, culture and technology zones, food areas and family spaces
  • Linked to common aims of positively changing attitudes and understanding of disability and impairment

To register your interest in taking up a fundraising place, please contact Tony Stevens by email or telephone 07952 548393.

Independent Living Strategy Group Survey 2016

DRUK_LOGOTell the Independent Living Strategy Group (ILSG) about your experiences of choice and control over care and support.

Go to the survey

The ILSG is made up disabled people and allies from a range of organisations.  It is convened by Baroness Jane Campbell. Disability Rights UK is a member of ILSG.

The Group is conducting a survey to find out about people’s experiences of choice and control over their care and support.  We want to find out about your experiences in order to share them with the government and the public in the hope that it will help bring about improvements.  We carried out a similar survey last year

You, or a person acting with your permission on your behalf, can answer the questions.

If you have any questions or comments about the survey, please contact John Waters,

Read a new blog about Personal Health Budgets

Choice_controlWe have published another great blog by GYA pal Glen who has been fighting to have choice and control over his personal health budget through employing personal assistants instead of using an agency. We believe that using a personal assistant to help you get to an activity is a way of using your personal budget or personal health budget to get active but we know that it isn’t always easy as Glen can demonstrate.

Read Glen’s blog here.

If you are feeling inspired by Glen’s blog and have your own story to tell please contact us here.

All I’m doing, by employing a PA, is cutting out a very expensive middleman

By Glen

Glen - blogAfter waiting for just under one year, I finally received my personal health budget (PHB). Since the introduction of the Care Act allowing every service user to have their own PHB is a great leap for people with disabilities to become more independent and have control over their life. After many years of battling with social services trying to prove to them that I needed a live-in carer to support my needs because of my long-term health condition I eventually ended up in hospital with pneumonia.

I spent 9 weeks in hospital because of underlying health conditions due to my long-term health condition. I received a continuing healthcare package and when I came out of hospital last February I was looking forward to finally taking control of my own care. However, due to the ‘newness’ of the Clinical Commissioning Group personal health budgets there was a long process of ensuring that my needs would be met. Part of this process involved producing a ‘support plan’ of how my assessed needs, outcomes and how I want to use my personal budget to achieve these outcomes.

After leaving hospital, my care was placed with an agency and understandably their costs were quite high with their overheads such as administration staff wages and paying their carers the minimum wage. This means the whole of my PHB goes entirely to the agency, leaving me no money from my budget to pay for any extras such as respite breaks and alternative therapies.

I was happy when my support plan was approved and my PHB was transferred over to me allowing me to customise my care. However, I have since found out that if I want to employ my own Personal Assistants (PAs), which will obviously be better for me, the PA (increased wages) and value for money for the NHS, I will have to have my support plan reviewed. Which already took almost a year.

The reason behind this I have been told, is that they want to make sure that employing my own PAs, my needs will be met. Of course they will be met! There is no difference with employing PAs from an agency to me employing my own PAs. All I’m doing is cutting out a very expensive middleman such as the agency and any unspent budget will be returned to the NHS.

The only reason I can see behind reviewing my support plan is to reduce my PHB so they can adjust it just to the PAs wages. Which defeats the purpose of having a PHB and to be able to pursue activities that will benefit my well-being and independence.

Glen volunteers for a number of organisations but mainly as a social housing landlord. He is chair of their Residents’ Council and represents 28,000 homes across London and south-east region scrutinising the services provided to the residents. He also volunteers for Muscular Dystrophy UK as an MD ambassador helping families who have had a member of their family recently diagnosed with MD. He is currently studying Law and Psychology with the Open University.

You can find out more about empoying personal assistants by reading the Disability Right UK fact sheet Being in Control: Getting Personal Assisstants.

Want to know more about Personal Health Budgets and getting active? Take a look at our GYA resource Using Personal Budgets and Personal Health Budgets to Get Active.

Local authority social care responsibilities under the spotlight

UKParliamentLogoTwo parliamentary announcements this week have focussed attention on local authority’s ability to be able to support people with personal budgets and implement the Care Act.

The first is a report from the Public Accounts Committee which has been taking evidence and considering how well local councils are dealing with personal budgets.

The second announcement was from the Department for Communities and Local Government Select Committee which has launched an inquiry into the financial sustainability of local authority adult social care and the quality of care provided.

Sue Bott, Deputy CEO at Disability Rights UK has responded to the announcements on the DR UK website. Read more here.

It’s a walk in the park

By Sue Bott

Sue BottDon’t you just love the new Get Yourself Active website?  What could be better than a walk, run, roll in the park especially in the spring when the sun is out and the birds are singing?

For me doing something active has always been the answer to any upset I have experienced or argument I have had. Even as a child if I got told off I’d stomp off and go for a walk.

Doing something physically active in whatever way, however small just makes such a difference to your sense of wellbeing. It amazes me that the health and social care worlds just don’t recognise what a difference a bit of exercise makes.

I’m not saying it is the cure all but shouldn’t disabled people and people with long-term health conditions be given a chance to rely less on medication, to have the chance to be mobile in the swimming pool, to pull weights in the gym?

The problem is that the worlds of sport and leisure, health, and social care don’t talk to each other let alone join up but they need to if people are going to have a good quality of life. The result is that millions of pounds are wasted on solutions that simply don’t work for disabled people and people with long-term health conditions. One of my friends has rheumatoid arthritis. On holiday in Holland, she hired a motorised tricycle.  It did wonders for her mobility. When she next saw her consultant she asked if she could have a personal health budget to get a tricycle to reduce her reliance on medication. As it happens the consultant was very supportive and thought it a good idea but said she had no idea how she would get through the bureaucracy to make it happen.

Personal budgets give people an opportunity to decide what works best for them within the resources available. If that includes a chance of sport or exercise why not? Isn’t it up to us, the disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, to decide what our priorities are and what works best for us? So come on any health and social care professions reading this. Don’t put obstacles in our way let us improve our wellbeing.

And woe betide anybody who stops me taking a walk in the park. I will become very depressed, very grumpy and I won’t be responsible for my actions. So there!

Sue Bott is Deputy CEO of Disability Rights UK has been active in the disability movement in the UK for many years.

Follow Sue’s guide dog @guidedogfaith to keep an eye on her movements!!

Read the first Get Yourself Active Personal Experience Blog :)


Caroline Waugh 1

Read the first of our many featured Personal Experiences blogs on our new Get Yourself Active website! Caroline Waugh tells us about her injuries and health conditions and how they affect her but she also talks about how she has used cycling as a way to help her to live a good life and be happy. Please read Caroline’s excellent and funny blog to find out how she has been trying to use her personal budget to stay independent and improve her health through cycling.

Read Caroline’s blog here

If you want to know more about personal budgets and why they could and should be used for physical activity see our Personal Budgets and Personal Health Budgets and Getting Active with the Care Act resources.

Follow us on twitter @GetYrselfActive to keep up to date with the latest on the new website!