Challenges, Barriers and Assumptions Part 2
Last week we started to discuss the daily life and barriers of people with special needs. Let’s continue to notice some of their difficulties.
Living in low income buildings is it’s own challenge. Things are slow, paper work is meticulous and it seems you can’t get a straight human answer when all you might need is a little support. Dealing with damaged shared property that often causes inconveniences and safety issues can be tiresome. When it comes to personal spaces I’ve heard stories of ignored calls when something needs to be repaired but as soon as someone moves out of your home or your financial status changes in any way- then government sponsored housing is ready almost immediately to raise your rent or kick you out.
Imagine getting injured at work and being forced to go back before you are healed. Doctors have cleared you, workman’s compensation has ended your help but you are not well- you are still in pain. You have two choices now- find a new job and face the possibility of becoming injured again or have no income.
Have you ever given thought to the challenges an older person might have? Imagine needing medical help and not having any family. Imagine being a shut in and having a medical need and trying to navigate the ever changing online world. Almost everything is online these days and if you don’t know how to use a cell phone or the internet you’re in trouble. Older people with family or grandchildren might have access to help that other don’t have.
Insurance companies thrive on rules and conditions to get out of paying out for accidents or claims but when it comes to collecting their monthly payments you will rarely if ever, receive a “you’re off the hook his month” call. Even during the pandemic most insurance companies kept collecting monthly support even though people were driving less. I think when people started cancelling their insurance some companies started to look for ways to keep customers by making things more flexible and offering small discounts.
Many of our social support systems are created in this way as well. There is a fear of people abusing the system. A common assumption people make is that those who are being helped by the system are somehow often taking advantage of it. They believe that it’s easy to take advantage. But for those who’ve ever been forced to recieve help know this is not the reality. Things are structured to make sure people don’t abuse the system. Unfortunately the very structures created actually reinforce barriers and access problems for those who it was designed to help. Just like in the case of needing insurance. Generally people don’t want to get in accidents and be inconvenienced by having their car demolished and getting injured, but it happens. Although some people do try to fraud the system we don’t generally believe most people who have accidents somehow got into an accident on purpose and are trying to fraud the system.
The popular belief and rhetoric of the fortunate ones who may never need help is that those who do require help are some how profiting from taxpayer dollars. This is strange to me. These watchdog policies that have been put into place often don’t prevent people who want to commit fraud from doing so, but they do make it difficult for those actually in need to free themselves from the loop of poverty. They create extra barriers for access and support.
If given the choice to have a job, and be self sufficient I think most mentally healthy people would chose to do what they had to do to survive. Most people would have jobs and structure their lives in a way that benefited them. But as we all know life is full of challenges. Challenges that some have been blessed with the ability to navigate through while others may not have the necessary tools or things falling in “favourable places” in order to find themselves freed.
People who need the system are just that- those that need the system and may not have learned how to function without it. We need to find ways to support people instead of judging without all the information. We need to offer people a chance to break free from systems that would leave them perpetually dependent. We also need to recognize that not everyone will be able to make those steps of change dependending on their unique situation.
My heart goes out to those with physical and cognitive disabilities, or those with mood disorders who find it difficult to find help and assistance when they need it most. Many people cannot afford to get the help they need even within our regular canadian health system so imagine how hard it might be in other parts of the world.
Have you ever experienced a system or barrier that prevented you from moving forward in your life? What did you do? What support would you have liked?