Independent Living Movement Ireland

Questioning over subscribing of impairment-label health system drug usage

With this month’s case in the south of the country of inappropriate drug HSE treatments with young disabled people, ILMI made a presentation regarding prescribed drug dependency for disabled young people and adults to the north-west Treatment and Rehabilitation Sub-Group.  Following his membership of NW Drugs & Alcohol Taskforce, Peter Kearns, ILMI’s ONSIDE cross border IT & Social Inclusion Coordinator, was invited in early February to identify prescribed drug impairment label led lived experiences of disabled people to members of the NW Drugs Treatment Group. Peter explained what a Disabled Persons Organisations (DPO) is and how it captures the lived experiences of disabled people and their sometimes negative encounters with health system prescribed medications. 

Peter stated that as ILMI works with disabled people on a cross impairment basis, including challenging usage of ‘mental-health’ impairment labels, possible misuse of medical model label focussed clinical attention is an issue that arises at our Disabled Persons Organisations (DPO) on-line and in-person collective get togethers. 

ILMI’s Social Inclusion Coordinator firstly explained to the NW Drugs Treatment Group that central to the way that our national DPO works with social and health policy discourse, is to recognise that such policy development has to be effectively influenced by those whose lives are directly affected. Peter suggested that DPOs are best suited towards communicating disabled peoples lived experience led case studies of negative and concerning health systems prescribed medications. The NW Drugs Treatment Group told Peter that they are very interested in a role for the DPO voice and are going to suggest to members that DPOs are invited to join their HSE related Group.

Peter went on to explain to the Group that ILMI has often listened to anecdotes from disabled adults that seem to identify that there are some issues regarding abuse of health system prescribing of drugs related to particular impairment labels, especially ‘mental-health’ labels. Peter welcomed the possible inclusion of DPOs on the Group to address and uphold disabled people’s human rights and ensure the spirit of ‘will & preference’ health policy conformity with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Peter concluded his well received presentation by saying that; “Realisation of an effective impairment label led drug usage future dialogue with DPOs should be based on a disability equality proofed Health policy by social model DPOs. Disability Equality proofing all state social and health policy is central to the way a DPO like ILMI works in ensuring that policy decisions that impact on the lives of disabled people must be informed by disabled activists through our representative DPOs“. Connecting to his February 2022 ILMI Oireachtas speech on Assisted Decision Making (ADM) Act Amendments, Peter finished his early spring morning presentation to the NW Drugs Treatment Group by promoting the idea that DPOs should be consulted by Health policy makers. This DPO role could help to develop codes of practice and guidance on interpretation and application of health relevant Acts through consultation with and the meaningful participation of all those disabled people who are likely to be impacted.

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