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A Game of Social Care Trumps

March 9, 2013

Here’s a question for you. Is there any area within the social care field where money isn’t the trump card? Is there any argument that can be put forward that isn’t going to be trumped by money?

I’ve been thinking a lot about trumping recently (I must sort out my appalling flatulence). In the ongoing saga of our probable homelessness, Hillingdon’s argument is that their housing allocation policy of non eligibility to social housing for anyone with capital over £30,000 trumps their duty of care towards a vlunerable person. Forget the moral dimension of the situation; Steven only has the capital because of the illegal act in 2010. A LOCAL policy takes precedent over the threat of an extremely vulnerable adult becoming homeless. It also trumps a High Court best interests judgement as well. There aren’t many people I’d guess who would consider it in Steven’s best interests to be forced to become a private tenant and have to use all of his damages award to pay his rent. Trumped by money. Trumped by local policy. Fuck the ethical element and the human being at the core of its game.

I was able to use the money trump myself once. Hillingdon’s reluctance to provide any respite for Steven except at the unit where he was unlawfully held for a year, was couched in terms like “encouraging independence”, “flexibility” etc. They also brought into the debate “an equitable service for all service users” and woe betide you if you try to challenge that with a person centered argument. Anyway, after weeks of pointless negotiation becasue we weren’t allowed to discuss the real agenda (money), I managed to get the support workers to agree to do overnight home respite for a ridiculously small fee in comparison to the figures we weren’t talking about. I submitted a proposal and we never talked about independence, flexibility or equitability again. Money talks.

For the past 18 months, I have been following the sad local story about Hillingdon’s plan to close its three day centres and replace them with one smaller hub. (The word “hub” should immediately be a money alert sign). Everyone knows that what it really is all about is money and in all probablility, in a year’s time, some impressive looking blocks of flats will appear in the place where the day centres used to be. A hardy group of parent carers challenged the plan and just before it was about to come before the court, the council backtracked and said they would extend the consultation period. A few months on, the consultation period is over and the three day centres will soon be rubble. For some strange reason, I get sent the minutes of the monthly meetings between the parent carer group and the council managers. It’s absorbing reading; it’s like a 2013 version of The Kings New Clothes. The council’s line, of course, is that the new arrangements at the hub will increase the service user’s independence and the accompanying personal budget will empower them choice and flexibility wise. It doesn’t hold up to any scrutiny whatsoever. One service user spent her time at her day centre preparing her meals for the evening, whilst at the same time enjoying the friendships she has built there. Sounds pretty cool to me. Now, she’ll spend the same time window shopping in Argos. And by the time she has paid for the support worker’s wages and their lunch out of her personal budget, she won’t have anything left to actually go into Argos and buy something. But then again, that’s the beauty of personal budgets. So the meeting goes into incredible detail about peripheral stuff and money never rears its formidable head. It’s conjuring tricks at their finest. It’s like discussing Martha & The Muffins’ greatest hits without any reference to Echo Beach.

Steven has a bizarre card game of Coronation Street trumps. We don’t understand the rules but an Albert Tatlock trumps a Hayley Cropper. I’ve been embroiled in social care systems and their double speak for ages and I still haven’t found my Albert Tatlock that can trump their money card. Especially when their money card is disguised as an independent, flexible Curly Watts.


From → Social Care

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