Long Term Conditions Alliance Scotland (LTCAS) Conference

Community Reporter Kevin Gallagher was asked the following question recently –

How do you avoid talking politics in relation to the state of funding for long-term care? Especially as it has such an effect on all aspects of life for service users and providers. It is a very stressful time for all those involved. In the end, I concluded sometimes you have to face it head-on in order to find a solution. This is something the Long Term Conditions Alliance Scotland is ready to attempt.

The LT CAS Conference entitled ‘Living With Long Term Conditions: Employability Poverty & Welfare Reform’, in March, tried to find a positive way forward and engage the decision makers and challenge policy. Along with workshops such as ‘A Bad Time To Be Disabled’ and the lunchtime event ‘Walking Toward Better Health’, a range of speakers introduced the conference. They didn’t hold back on their criticism of the UK Government’s attitudes and economic policy. As the economy worsens, Ian Welsh the Chief Executive of LT CAS asked what could be done to tackle cuts in services. He held the top of government responsible for the ‘failure in society’ to deal with inequality in the labour market. A shocking third of employers admit to discriminatory policies towards disabled employees and applicants.

Mr. Welsh continued saying it is not enough to just compel people to find jobs without tackling inequality. Westminster policy was accused of widening the gap causing deeper poverty and further entrenched exclusion if we don’t act now.

Another highlight of the event was the presentation from Minister for Public Health, Michael Matheson.

I was impressed by his call for a shift in culture that included tackling the major problems caused by the recent Remploy closures. The MSP said a change in attitudes to disclosure of health issues in the workplace was needed. The Q&A that followed gave Flourish House member Paul Mulgrew the opportunity to question the minister at length. It was a fruitful discussion dealing with the concerns that employers needed to do more to help support people back into work.

Much of the rest of the day was taken up with lively constructive workshops that put service users & providers together with policy makers until they had thrashed out some positive suggestions for dealing with the current problems. Contacts were made – email addresses exchanged. I attended the Flourish House workshop showcasing their Clubhouse model. It was hosted admirably by Paul Mulgrew & Leah Middleton, Senior Project Worker for the project, who went on to invite Simon Francis of The Department of Works and Pensions to visit to see the work being done there. Hopefully he will be able to take them up on this offer. Time will tell if the links made during the conference will come to anything more substantial.

Story by K.  Gallagher

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