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None The Wiser

September 11, 2012

Today was the day for the FACE assessment. I had been sent all the paperwork beforehand but it was so dense that I put it to one side about half way through and never got back to it again.

I like the social worker enormously. She is very straight forward and never uses that “I’m acting in Steven’s best interests” line. And the fact that she never says it demonstrates to me that she really is acting in his best interests. If only she had been on our case back in 2010, the whole sorry year would probably never have happened. But instead we were saddled with Mrs Narcissus and the rest, they say, is history.

The first five minutes were odd but cool. SW announced that the assessment as it stands doesn’t take into account the following: the need for extra support as a result of challenging behaviour; the need for respite; the need and provision of transport. The assessment tool is currently going through many adaptations and they hope to include these three requirements in future versions. I was gobsmacked. Those three things are Steven’s care package! Those three things are his only real needs but the FACE assessment doesn’t accommodate any of them. I say it was cool because at least it was up-front and I knew where I stood from the outset. I can’t express what a relief that was. None of this “promoting independence” and “facilitating choice” nonsense. The message didn’t sound very hopeful but at least it was clear.

What became obvious after about five minutes of questions was that this was an off the peg assessment tool, that is being used in the same state that it was bought. I would hazard a guess and say that if these tools come in several levels of complexity, this was probably the most basic, cheapest model. It was one of those “lets score everything from a value of 0-5” type of tests. And the same rating covers everything from managing money, wiping bottoms, chosing clothes to working the remote control. I’m hopeless at those sort of things; I try to look as if I’m giving each question deep, considered thought but my mind is really wandering off to Leeds’ chances of automatic promotion this year. An hour later, we’ve done as much as we can for today. Most of the questions weren’t applicable to Steven (I found the assessment tool was much more geared to the physically disabled than learning disabled) but it was a start. SW promised to write it up what we’ve done and then we can have another bash at it once the new versions are available (hopefully with questions that might reflect Steven’s actual needs).

She also prepared me for the outcome. Because so much of Steven’s care package isn’t recognised by the assessment, the RAS is likely going to throw out an inappropriately low indicative budget. At the moment his care package has three elements to it:

1. Provision of 2:1 support when Steven is out on an activity and 1:1 support at home whilst I’m at work and for early morning and evening bath.

2. 42 nights a year respite paid via direct payments so I can pay someone to stay overnight whilst I go out.

3. Transport to the activities that aren’t within walking distance and would require bus travel.

None of those three needs will be picked up by the RAS. But all is not lost. Whatever indicative budget is revealed, we can then go to the Panel to consider increasing the IB to include the specific needs. Exactly what happens at present but without the costly RAS system acting as the middle man.

There also tentative talk about how I’d like to receive the budget and once again, I kinda switched off but I think there are two options: I can have the whole lot on a pre-paid card or I can directly commission the services myself. At the moment, I don’t get involved in the payments to the support agency or the transport firm – I just get direct payments to cover one worker and the respite. So, it sounds like there could be an awful lot more work involved for me.

I left the civic centre and bumped into a friend. I gave her a blow-by-blow account of the proceedings and her response was: “You sound remarkably chipper over something that seems fraught with danger”. And she was right. And I’m sure it was because it was all dealt with so honestly, which was astonishingly refreshing. I may lose the 2:1 support, the respite and Steven will be stuck at home because the transport is cancelled, but I do know where I stand. Or perhaps I was still a bit pissed from my respite night last night.

 

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