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Of All The Job Interviews, In All The World

March 13, 2013

A friend of mine sent me the link to a job advert on Hillingdon Council’s website. It is for a “Positive Behaviour Manager – Children’s Services” and is actually based at the same place where Steven was held in 2010. My mate dared me to apply for the job. So here, with minimal fabrication, is a transcript of my interview with Deidre Tressell – Deputy Director of Person Centred Transformation (South):

Deidre: Welcome Mr Neary. First of all, can you tell us what experience you’ve had of dealing with challenging behaviour?

Me: Well….. I had to deal with you kidnapping my son for a year. That was pretty challenging.

Deidre: Ooops. My bad. Never mind. Lessons have been learned. Lines have been drawn. Bla bla bla. And how would you work with a child displaying inappropriately challenging behaviour?

Me: I’d congragulate them on being abe to communicate their feelings. And then I’d make sure that all the people involved in working with them were trained in tuning in and relating to the person.

Deidre: So, your emphasis would be on the professionals, rather than the service user?

Me: All the time. They’re the ones finding the behaviour challenging after all. Seems a good place to start.

Deidre: A novel idea Mr Neary but self reflection is not our modus operandi. At Hillingdon, we have a proven track record using a model where every aspect of the service user’s life is broken down. The goal is to take away every coping mechanism they have and rebuild them the Hillingdon way.

Me: Sounds intruiging. Does it work?

Deidre: Every time. They completely collapse. And we meticulously log their breakdown and use it as evidence to send them to a permanent placement, usually many miles away.

Me: And some other schmuck authority will pick up the bill for their care?

Deidre: Exactly. You’ve been doing your homework Mr Neary. You’ve been reading our policies. We call that one a transformation pathway.

Me: And my job will be to nudge people along that pathway?

Deidre: In the best person centered way of course. Talking of which, how would you empower the service user by facilitating their person centred plan?

Me: I guess I’d start by asking them what they’d like to do. What they want from their life……

Deidre: Oooh, risky. You may end up having to say “no” to everything they ask for. Try again..

Me: Perhaps I could suggest to them it would promote their independence better than instead of going to the gym, which they have asked to do, they could stay in the residential unit and watch re-runs of Hetty Wainthrop Investigates. It would also give the staff more time on Facebook too.

Deidre. Excellent. We encourage creative person centred planning like that. The service user has to realise that they have many choices we can empower them with.

Me: Thank goodness there are so many television channels these days.

Deidre: Let’s get on to the main part of the job specification. At a conservative estimate, 95% of your time will be spent compiling in depth risk assessments and writing risk management plans. Can you meet that criteria Mr Neary?

Me: I suppose my ideas on risk may be considered a bit radical. I like the quote that all life carries risk and what’s the point of making someone safe, if they only end up miserable.

Deidre: Sounds like the wooly theory of someone with no knowledge of extreme challenging behaviour.

Me: It was a High Court judge actually.

Deidre: We find our assessment processes extremely successful. If they’re thorough enough, we can practically prevent someone doing anything. Think of the cost savings in that. Remove all quality of life and contain them; that way you get plenty of raw data about their challenging behaviour. That’s what we’re here for.

Me: Yes, I can see that but what about DoLs in those cases?

Deidre: Dolls are playthings Mr Neary – we encourage more worthwhile pursuits. Where do you stand on social stories? Do they have a place in promoting self directed support, whilst underpinning the risk management plan?

Me: I’m getting the hang of this now. You could have a story called: “Mopping The Floor Of My Residential Unit Is Great”. That point would need to be repeatedly emphasised until the client was brainwas…., erm, receptive to the idea. Perhaps, for balance, we could have a few pages like; “Going to the cinema is bad becuase I might choke on some popcorn”. That sort of thing.

Deidre: Super. We’ll introduce you to the speech therapist. You’ll get on like a house on fire. Good care costs mr Neary, in these austere times, how can we manage that?

Me: Ummm. Provide cheap bad care? Or no care?

Deidre: Good Lord no. No, the answer is to get them to pay through the nose for their care. That’s the beauty of personal budgets and the fairer charging policy. We give with one hand and grab straight back with the other. Perfectly equitable.

Me: More to go round then? For all the service users?

Deidre: Well there’s more to go round but we can’t have the users exhausting the piggybank. Since the introduction of personalisation, the management team has grown fivefold. Get a carer to agree their indicative budget and it’s a healthy bonus for the whole team.

Me: I bet you sing a daily hymn to the RAS.

Deidre: One final question. Do you believe there should be specific measures in place to work with the challenging behaviour of someone with autism? And is there a case for shitloads of anti-psychotics in their care plan?

Me: I know this one. I’d write a 36 page report without any reference to autism whatever and conclude with the learned wisdom: “If you know 1 person with autism, then you know 1 person with autism”.

Deidre: Shake my hand Mr Neary. I can see you feeling quite at home here.

I start next Tuesday after my two hour training course: “Everything you ever need to know about the Human Rights Act, The Mental Capacity Act and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards”

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