There’s been a lot written recently about ‘hidden disabilities’ including some thought-provoking stories from people who have Crohn’s Disease, ME or Autism.
Whether it’s being refused a wheelchair when boarding a plane or worse, having to explain that you urgently need to empty your stoma bag to an unimpressed receptionist- we all need to remember that not all illnesses are obvious.
Surprisingly, not all local councils recognise Dementia as a valid disability when it comes to obtaining a ‘blue badge’ or disabled parking permit. However, a BBC news article just announced that under new proposals hidden disabilities would be taken into account.
Believe it or not, should the eight week consolation period prove fruitful this will be the biggest shake-up for ‘blue badge holders’ since the 1970’s.
Currently, a blue badge permit allows the holder to park for free, use disabled bays and park for up to three hours on double yellow lines. In London, holders are also exempt from paying the congestion charge, which if you think about it, could make a real difference to someone who has doctor’s appointments regularly.
Adding hidden disabilities like dementia to the blue badge scheme would literally change the lives of those struggling with the disease. Not only would it remove any worries about paying for parking or how to get your loved one with dementia to and from the car safely, but it would also offer people a greater amount of freedom.
We at the DC know how difficult it can be to go out with someone who has dementia. You aren’t just having to think about what they’re doing, or how far they can walk etc but you may also have to predict how their environment might affect their behaviour. In short, the closer you are to where you’re going the better.
A blue badge also gives those in the earlier stages of dementia more confidence to go out, see friends or enjoy a simple trip to the shops. They’ll be comforted by the fact that if they need to they can park closer or have access to disabled parking. They also don’t need to worry about carrying enough change for the pay and display machine.
The fact is invisible illnesses like dementia are much more common than people think and it is high time that the government do more to support those who need it the most. In 2018 nobody should be forced to walk five, or ten minutes to get to a garden centre, cinema or cafe if they’re physically unable to do so.
“The Department for Transport said about 75% of badge users said they would go out less often if they didn’t have the flexibility to park with a blue badge.”