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The Annual Staff Appraisal

February 8, 2014

Well, well, well. After months of haggling and more tactical manoeuvres than the D Day landings, I have finally got the council to agree to a Personal Budget for Steven that sort of meets the two missions of my proposal. The first was to try and secure Steven’s budget for the forseeable future. I know that in the fragile world of adult social care that is impossible but it does feel like we’re on a stronger footing than we were a few weeks ago. The second mission was to try and cut out all the middle men making huge profits out of Steven’s care. That has very nearly been achieved. The support agency have gone. The cab firm will be paid cash fares from now on as opposed to their high charging account fees. The council have agreed that I don’t have to use a payroll company to manage the support workers’ wages – I can do it myself and save about £50 per month which would have gone into the payroll company’s pockets. The only agency left that will make a profit out of Steven is the company that supply the pre-paid cards that is the council’s prefered method of managing the budgets. The card company make 50p everytime a transaction takes place. I was planning on paying the support workers weekly – there are five of them – and their pay would have to go straight from the card into their bank accounts. At 50p per time that would have cost £10 per month. The council expressed their “disappointment” at having to add this fee to the budget (which is ironic as for the last few months they’ve paid thousands of £s to the profits of the support agency). They wanted me to pay the staff monthly and they would include £2.50 in Steven’s personal budget to cover this. So, what I’ll do is transfer one lump sum once a month from the card into an account I’ll set up just for the wages, and then pay the workers directly from that account. Only one transaction from the card means the perpaid card company makes a profit of …… 50p per month. I’m a stubborn old bastard when it comes to issues like this. But it feels good that in a space of a few weeks, we’ve gone from the prospect of Steven’s package being slashed because the costs were too great, to the new position where only 50p goes to the vultures.

Now that’s sorted, I’ve got to turn my attention to being an employer. So, over the next few days I’ve got to draw up contracts of employment, job descriptions, set up the tax accounts etc, bloody etc. There are other things too. When they were trying to dissuade me from taking this on, the support planner remarked that I’d have to cover all sorts of other things like training, supervision, annual appraisals.

Annual appraisals? I’ve been working on this already and my plan is quite simple. I’m not too fussed if the workers aren’t totally up to speed on manual handling techniques, so I’ll set them an annual test on how well they understand Steven and have engaged in his world. Steven knows all the answers, so he will be head of marking. Anyone who gets more than 50% from their examination gets a Steven selected bonus (probably a bag of Frazzles) and those who get less than 50% will move into Benefits Street. Fair enough, I think.

Here are the questions for the first appraisal:

Q1: What colour hats did The Rubettes wear for Sugar Baby Love?
Q2: What did Basil Fawlty serve his dead guest for breakfast?
Q3: Who does Steven think that Chris (one of the support workers) looks like in Abba? (A clue – it’s not Anna Frid, although Chris does look fetching in an A line frock)
Q4: Whose concert was Mark Neary at in 1979, when he was thrown into his chair by one of the bouncers?
Q5: What is Mr Murphy’s profession in Camberwick Green?
Q6: What was Norman Cook eating in the video to Me and the Farmer?
Q7: What cheese snack did Tony try to tempt Debbie with in Men Behaving Badly?
Q8: What animal did Paul Heaton ride in Good As Gold?
Q9: What were then names of Mr Bean’s two New Year’s Eve guests?
Q10: What fate befell Steven when he was walking to the Pizza Hut in the summer of 1995?
Q11: How many nipples does Madonna Have? (Steven’s answer may surprise you)?
Q12: What were Fred Elliott’s dying words in Coronation Street?
Q13: What does Steven serenade Dave with everytime he sees him at the Mencap Pool?
Q14: What song were Take That performing the night Steven made his escape from the Positive behaviour unit?
Q15: What station did Brenda Nicholson get off at, the day in 1997 when she saw Steven Neary eating some Jellytots?
Q16: What did Auntie Rose say to Steven when he declined her offer of a Penguin biscuit?
Q17: How many men in Cowley look like Boy George (from his Karma Chameleon days)?
Q18: Can you tell which of the Proclaimers is Craig and which is Charlie?
Q19: What do you say when someone farts in the kitchen (but not in any other room of the house)?
Q20: What did Robbie Williams say when introducing Meat Loaf on the 1993 Christmas edition of Top of the Pops?

That should do it. That should sort the men from the boys.

P.S. I’m not going to post the answers just yet. You never know, a support worker may be lurking and I don’t want to give them a heads up.

P.P.S. Steven has just taken the examination himself and got 100%. He’s set a very high benchmark for all that follow.

P.P.P.S I might just get to like being an employer.

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9 Comments
  1. Liz. permalink

    Annual appraisals? I just loved those when I was working. What purpose do they serve, apart from being irritating?

    Training? Good luck with that – not easy to find apart from that you provide.

    I employ five carers, and my payroll company charges around £18 a month.

    I am so impressed you found a way to sabotage the pre-paid card – I would hate to have to do that, and 50p a transaction is as bad as the cabs.

    On the whole, I prefer to be an employer. Goes smoothly 90% of the time, gets a bit hairy when you hit bumps. It did feel like I was an employer who worked unpaid for the Council though.

    • I was a bit thrown when I was once sent on a course on doing appraisals and was told the main reason was ‘to improve employee morale.’ (Maybe because it proves your boss knows who you are?)

      • Liz. permalink

        They are a bit like Personalisation – maybe have a grain of credibility in them somewhere, but in practice….? The people who design the courses benefit, the people who run the courses benefit, people who go on them may or may not benefit, but by the time it filters down to the poor bloody infantry being appraised, of very dubious benefit. I found them excruciatingly pointless, and very hard to pretend to take seriously. Any employer/manager inevitably appraises constantly – including Mark AND Steven, and will be well aware of strengths and weaknesses, which may well be in balance anyway. Life is both more straightforward and more erratic than “systems” allow.

  2. Alice Moore permalink

    Well done.

  3. lisa permalink

    Ha ha ha ha ha …. this made me chuckle this morning and these are the greatest questions :-)

  4. Sally permalink

    Good for you. I am deeply impressed at the way you are doing this.
    It sounds likely that you will, praise be, be asked to speak on this in public forums. If so, could I beg you to cover the points you made on the last blog? What happens when you can’t do this any more-either expectedly or unexpectedly-who would be responsible for all this-and how much legally would they actually be obliged to do? Also what about the people who don’t have family /carers who are ready and able to do all this unpaid complex work forever?
    Please point out that there is no consideration of this-its assumed all disabled people can do this themselves or have hosts of intelligent, motivated,trustworthy, independently wealthy,immortal family and friends who will gladly leap forward.
    I think actually intemising every aspect of the work its unthinkingly assumed “someone” will do is very powerful. What does self directed support actually mean in pracical terms? Even to describe a whole bunch of tasks required-and then to point out that you have now covered just one day. of care. Just one. And that its had taken you X time out of the Y time to yourself you have gained, supposedly in which you are in employment, resting, having a life.
    And present them with the inevitable problems which you will also be expected to fix up (staff needing the sack, no shows etc) which you will also be expected to fix out of your free time gained and usually in office hours.Then ask them what job you can do which can fit around that and pay enough to support you both….

    • Hi Sally. It’s interesting because it looks like the stuff I write about is opening up some new doors. For the past 2 years, I’ve been asked to speak at conferences etc but always about the Get Steven Home story. I’ve got 7 “gigs” lined up over the next few months and quite a few of them want me to talk about the things that I write about on this blog

      • Sally permalink

        Hooray! Any open gig near Richmond Borough please let me know.

  5. jonathan john permalink

    Great idea. Made me laugh.

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