“A disability is classified by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) as:

A mental or physical impairment that has an adverse effect on your ability to carry out day to day activities and where the adverse effect is substantial and long-term (meaning it has lasted for 12 months, or is likely to last for more than 12 months or for the rest of your life)

Based on research, around one in five people of working age are considered by the Government and by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) to be ‘disabled’.

What that means is that they have a disability or a long-term health condition that has an impact on their day to day lives. People in these circumstances and some others (such as people with a facial disfigurement) are likely to have rights under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

In Hertfordshire, 23% of the working population (aged 16-74) are unable to work due to permanent sickness or disability.[1]

It is important that people have rights people with cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and heart conditions; people who have a hearing or sight impairment or a significant mobility difficulty, caused for example by arthritis, can be treated unfairly.  The same is true of people who have mental health conditions or learning disabilities.

People need protection against being treated unfairly. While they might be considered “disabled” according to the DDA, they don’t need to use that term about themselves and very many people with rights under the DDA don’t.

Many people think that you can tell if someone is disabled and that people are usually disabled from childhood. In fact, most people who have a disability or a health condition develop it in later life - only 17 per cent are born with a particular condition.

And while Britain is getting wealthier and medicine is developing, in fact an increasing proportion of the population have some form of health condition or disability, partly because many of us are living longer and because treatments are improving. People are able to live for a long time, after cancer, after a heart attack, after an accident a cause for celebration.

The DDA provides disabled people with rights and it also places duties on employers. More importantly, it helps encourage employers and staff to work together to break away from rigid employment practices, identify what adjustments and support might be needed, and find flexible ways of working that may benefit the whole workforce.[2]

The Trust uses the following categories for people to identify their disability/impairment:

  • Physical Impairment
  • Sensory Impairment
  • Learning Disability
  • Long Term Mental Health Problem
  • Long Term Health Condition

Asking people about disability/impairment...

Service Users - Provision has been made on both the staff and service user records systems for recording information on disability.  In relation to service users, it is not a statutory requirement that this information be collected, however giving a service user an opportunity to discuss issues relating to disability, can help them become more open with staff, give more information on the type of treatment they require and help staff to make any special adaptations for service users. 

Staff - In relation to staff, all managers are encouraged to be aware of Trust “Guide for Supporting Staff with a Disability”.  It may be necessary on occasion for employers to make reasonable adaptations[3] to help staff get better access in relation to their disability.  If there is any doubt on the process, staff should contact their HR representative.

What is the Trust doing?

Employment Example The Trust is a 2 ticks champion for supporting people with disabilities in the workplace as well as a ‘Mindful Employer’ showing we are positive about employing people who have experienced mental illness.  We offer clear guidance to our managers and staff on how to work with people both staff, service users and carers around disability.  All managers are given clear instruction on how to provide the best possible support for their staff in the workplace.

Service Provision Example One of the major activities that the Trust undertook throughout 08/09 is a full disability access audit of all sites.  Throughout 2009 it will be looking at what if any changes are needed to our buildings and how the attitudes of staff can affect the way in which people with disabilities views services.

[1] 2001 Census Office for national statistics

[2]Excerpts taken from Disability Rights Commission - www.equalityhumanrights.com

[3] This is where an employer may make changes, or offer additional equipment, that help the member of staff carry out the duties of their role.