This policy statement has been developed with advice and guidance from people affected by Parkinson's, health and social care professionals and other experts.
What we believe
Strangers have accused me of being drunk or admonished me for being slow at a checkout. I use the opportunity to tell people about Parkinson's!
Everyone with Parkinson's has the right to full and equal participation in society and to live a life free of harassment or discrimination related to their condition.
Negative attitudes and the physical barriers that exist towards people with Parkinson's, and other disabilities or long-term conditions, need to be challenged.
Public understanding of Parkinson's must be improved.
And the law needs to be used and strengthened where necessary to protect people with Parkinson's from discrimination.
Why we believe this
People affected by Parkinson's report that the attitudes of other people and society at large can create significant difficulties in living with the condition.
People report that the more visible symptoms of Parkinson's - such as tremor, slowness, uncontrolled movements, speech problems and a lack of facial expression - can give rise to negative comments and harassment.
As well as problems with attitudes in public, common areas of complaint from people with Parkinson's include discrimination relating to employment, facilities, services and goods, and health and social care.
What's the evidence?
For Parkinson's Awareness Week 2013, we published the findings of a major survey of people affected by Parkinson's.
Of nearly 3,000 people with Parkinson's who responded to questions on attitudes they had experienced, we found that:
- 67% felt the public had a poor understanding of the condition
- 47% had experienced discrimination, including being overlooked or receiving strange looks from the public
- 27% said they avoided going out at busy times of the day because they were wary of the public's reaction to their Parkinson's
- 60% said their Parkinson's made them feel scared, uncomfortable or nervous in public