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Hubs, Inclusion Champions & Other Shit Like That

April 5, 2013

I receive regular updates of the development of my local Parents/Carers Reference Group, which is made up of several social care professionals and parents and carers. I think it is an offshoot of the Learning Disabilities Partnership Board. The minutes of the meetings are fascinating and there are three things that strike me; in the current climate of hubs that go straight to the hub of where everything in social care is severely askew.

Firstly, I am constantly amazed at how the system feeds itself and churns out puffed up, self serving posts that are incomprehensible to anyone outside the system. Some of the professionals sitting on the partnership board include: An Inclusion Community Support Pilot manager; A Disabilities Introducer; Various Champions; and whole teams for everything (“The Changing Places Team”). I find myself wondering how all these posts are funded; at every meeting a new post seems to have emerged. When the subtext of these meetings is about cuts and the service user losing out on something, it galls to see a new robot champion in post. I wonder how much of the money that should be going towards the service user or their carers is siphoned off to keep these teams expanding. How much of the local authority’s carer’s grant is used to fund a team of carer’s champions?

I can see, how on paper, these jobs look like great innovations; opening doors for the service user. But as these meetings demonstrate, they do the exact opposite – they are not door openers; they are gatekeepers providing a security camouflage for the fact that the door leads to a great big vast empty room. One carer asks whether the changing facilities at one of the new hubs will be suitably equipped and is told that her concerns will be flagged up with the Changing Places Team for consideration and assessment. A reasonable, straight forward question is gobbled up by a machine, screaming: “Feed me. Feed me”.

That leads me to the second issue; how we find ourselves talking about things that we’re not talking about. What do I mean? Try and imagine this unlikely scenario that would never happen in a month of Sundays (!!). All the day centres are closing down and the alternative offered to the service user is a hub. One of these hubs is one of the local swimming pools. I (in my role as a member of the partnership board) am asking the professionals how my daughter will be able to continue her cooking that she has done at the day centre for the past ten years. She loves preparing her evening meal whilst she’s there and it’s in her person centred plan. After raising my question, I find myself talking about a hub! How did that happen? And I’m a bit confused because it sounds like a swimming pool but they keep refering to it as a hub. From the way they are talking I can see that they consider a hub to be better for the service user than a day centre. But is a swimming pool better than a day centre? It all depends on whether you want to have a swim or make a cottage pie. Cookery in a non existant day centre is a vexed subject; so is meal preperation at the swimming baths. The choice and flexibility of a hub is much safer ground for the professionals on the board.

The last aspect of the Partnership Board that strikes me is that there is absolutely no sense of partnership whatsoever. Broadly speaking, two things happen at board meetings; the professionals pass on decisions that have already been made (e.g. The planning committee have approved the closure of the day centres). The lay members of the board are presented with a fait accompli. And secondly, the professionals take questions from the parents/carers and feed them back into the system (“This will be addressed by the Transformation Team”). At no point, do the professionals ask any questions of the carers. I’ve never once read the professionals seeking ideas or opinions from the floor. So, not only does the gatekeepers protect the camoulflage but they also pacify anyone seeking entry into the room. Because, at all times, access to the room must be prevented because if you cross the threshold, you’ll discover that there is absolutely nothing inside. It has been mined from within.

One final observation, and I’m hoping that I’m wrong in this, but it seems to me that there wasn’t a single service user present on the partnership board.

Where do we go with all of this? I don’t know. For me, it is one of the biggest challenges of modern living: how something that is presented as open and transparent and good for you is actually a complicated, impenetrable camouflage to a huge gaping void.


From → Social Care

  1. Its like watching someone blow a large bubble you know sooner or later it will burst hopefully all over their corrupt money grabbing faces

  2. swanarchie07 permalink

    This is sovso true what a fantsdtic podt thsnk you and I am reblogging xx

  3. ThatDisabledLadyOverThere permalink

    I am a severely physically disabled adult and my LA is the London Borough of Hillingdon. I am one of 1,300 disabled adults for which Hillingdon is responsible. I despise and hate Hillingdon’s Adult Social Care with a passion. I used to think my reaction was an over-reaction but I think it is two things; (a) I have to engage them, they have the cash afterall and (b) I cannot figure out their agenda.It is the toxic mixture of resentment and fear. I know I am entitled to some crumb of the pie but I have to research every angle (esp legal) of this crumb and when I get the crumb I don’t like the taste or flavour.
    Ironically, I have met Adult Social Care professionals (not from Hillingdon) who have my condition and are journeying to my level of disability. Usually they are well looked after by their own profession. What I have found is that the idea the disabled person suggests is routinely ignored but is applied to their own profession. As much as I hate these Adult Social Care professionals, once disabled I feel obliged to be civil.
    I used to think that their profession is about care; but it is actually about funding and how many units of that funding you are entitled to receive. The delivery of this funding comes through Adult Social Services who will endeavour at all costs to give the minimum but in a style that is baffling and quite dishonest. Then I have to engage a charity to understand if this minimum is correct. Usually the minimum can be enhanced if I am prepared to fight and I mean fight. However, if you are an Adult Social Care professional, you don’t. Amazingly most disabled Adult Social Care professional admit their profession. Their bubble has got a good support package!

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