Ask The Family
I remember Ask the Family from the 70s. Robert Robinson with his splendid comb over. Kevin wasn’t Kevin – he was Master Wilkinson. Audrey wasn’t Audrey – she was Mrs Wilkinson. Except when Robert Robinson was feeling a bit cheeky and then she might be called Mother Wilkinson. Even back in 1972, it all felt very quaint – a peculiar nod to a bygone era.
Christ – if only we had Robert Robinson today working in the adult social care field. In 2013, you don’t get quasi respect – you get totally ignored.
I’ve been trying to write a chapter on “Families” for the Carespeak book. Four days later, I’m still staring at a blank piece of paper. I want to try and put some historical perspective on it – has it always been the case that families of adult learning disabled people are invisible? If not, when did it change?
And I don’t understand the rationale behind the policy (because a policy is what it feels like – it surely isn’t natural to be so dismissive of people with a wealth of experience and knowledge).
I get confused by the very mixed messages. On the one hand, we hear daily of how the mental capacity act is abused in order for the powers to get their own way. Mental capacity assessments and best interests are manipulated to suit a particular agenda. Yet on the other hand, we are given all this stuff about independence and choice and that now the person is an adult, they should be exercising their independence and choice. But time and again, we learn that the independence and choice agenda is an illusion – a smokescreen for efficiency savings and other murky agendas.
Perhaps families have to be sidelined. The illusion couldn’t sustain itself if Families were welcomed into the picture. Things will start to get a bit real at that point. The person’s history has to be erased because you can’t create an illusion with a whole 18 years plus of history to factor in.
All that still doesn’t really explain for me, the downright hostility to families at times. Those of you who follow Sara Ryan’s blog will recall LB’s communication plan and how the number one point of the plan excluded the family. Why? What on earth does that hope to achieve? I’ve mentioned before that whilst Steven was at the unit, I was absent from his “patient passport” – his keyworker was listed as his next of kin. Besides being totally wrong (I am still alive) – it was hugely disrespectful. And liable to send Steven into a massive panic about what had happened to his Dad.
It’s all cobblers anyway. The adult social care world would be up shit creek if families stopped doing what they do. I’ve been learning about “deflators” recently. I’m not exactly sure what they are but it seems that many LAs, when working out an individual’s personal budget are looking at the amount of care provided by the family and “deflating” the care plan and budget in accordance with this input. Apparently, this is unlawful but it is now very commonplace. There is a sick irony there too – whilst “deflation” is taking place, the whole adult social care industry continues to massively inflate. The industry goes into inflation, whilst the people they are meant to serve, are subjected to deflation.
I might just have three blank pages in the book under the title of “Families”. That would be the truest picture of how the adult social care world views families.
From → Social Care