I should have guessed. Directions to a black door set between two shops should have alerted me to the fact that this was a bit of a back-street dive. Clearly an old over-shop accommodation that had been rather badly converted into business premises up precipitous, winding stairs.
Those premises were equally unprepossessing with uneven floors and unexpected steps up and down.
Most I was there for some further treatment following the accident and, most depressing, was that the therapist was asking my (male) taxi driver where he would like to have the consultation. I had thought that my (female) name on the appointment would have been a clue. She was clearly convinced that I’d be happy to go through all my medical details and history in the public surrounding of the reception space. Thankfully, driver John has been around me long enough to reject all attempts to talk with him rather than me. I began to wonder if she had ever noticed or talked to anyone with a white cane.
Through more difficult passageways to the consulting room where I was plonked on an uncomfortable couch. She rattled through a long list of clearly unfamiliar medical conditions and was stumped by some clearly contradictory legalistic statements. I wondered if anyone else had ever properly read all this verbiage. I kept asking for details of their contractual terms and conditions, insurance cover, health and safety information without success. I asked the therapist about her own qualifications and an add-on to Level 3, whatever that means, wasn’t very reassuring.
She was absolutely trying to do her best but had clearly never been trained to interact with anyone with a disability (20% of the population/market) by the doctors running the service. If they could manage an operation that was so blatantly failing to comply with equality legislation, what other safeguarding laws were being broken too?
The final devastating and decisive realisation came as John collected me later: she hadn’t even been wearing her face mask properly, I had no idea as to how long it had just been covering her mouth and chin when, in close proximity, she’d been exposing me to risk of Covid or other infection. This wasn’t just discrimination but high risk. Even my local hairdresser has far higher professional standards.
Alternative arrangements with a different therapy organisation are going to be needed in the future. How could anyone contemplate charging money for such an amateur service?