The greatest impairment for anybody with impairments, maybe they be caused by poverty, migration, hunger and war or by severe brain injury is not being integrated enough into community life. And guess what? – We all, each and everyone of us, all of us without exception, have the right to inclusion – according to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a convention ratified not only by all EU member states but also by dozens of states around the world, including North Korea.

But not by Ireland.

I read a bit more on my way back to Dublin on the plane from the Prof Zieger’s brochure, published by the Hannelore Kohl Stiftung. The more I read, the more re-assured I became that we really need to bring fundamental change to Ireland in the way we treat persons with disabilities and, specifically, persons with sABI.

Here are a few more selected paragraphs written by Prof Zieger:

According to the international classification of functioning, disability and health (ICF) of the WHO, full recovery is not the only decisive criterion after a severe brain injury (impairment of physical and psychological functions). The focus of the rehabilitation process is the individual promotion of everyday activities in order to fully reintegrate someone with a severe or most severe disability and to ensure passive or active participation in community life.

According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities your loved one in coma or PVS has the right to full and preferably independent and autonomous participation in community life on a basis of equality.

You have the right to be involved and to take part in the nursing and it is also your duty to address this right with the help of the treatment team. Integration and participation are a confirmed human right regardless of the kind and severity of the disability. (…) This right also exists for long-term incubated / ventilated patients and patients who are extremely dependent on care.

Especially people with a severe injury (…) need full outpatient support, after-care and rehabilitation with participation, therapeutic assistance, pedagogical support and support from social care services.

It is important and meaningful for every individual, the family members, the surroundings, the community and the society to help people in coma or PVS actively participate in community life again. Hans are vulnerable and mortal beings depending on each other.

There is no life that is “meaningless” or “unworthy of life”. Not being integrated enough into community life is the greatest impairment for anybody may it be caused by poverty, migration, hunger and war or by severe brain injury with impaired consciousness, mobility and ability to communicate and interact with others and the environment.

Human life is dependent on a fine balance between autonomy and the feeling of belonging. Only a caring attitude towards the weaker members of society can ensure the best possible participation in community life.

Ir’s simple.

All we need is a caring attitude.

It’s the opposite to “me first”, “me great”, “me powerful”.