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Article 8 & Jaffa Cakes

May 7, 2013

I lost the plot this morning. It’s been coming for a while now but I don’t think the support workers were prepared to see me quite so angry. It wasn’t about the meltdown that Steven was having at the time, but more a build up of all the things that have left me feeling powerless and judged for months. It was also probably the kick back from the wonderful weekend in Folkestone, where I got a fleeting glimpse of what life could be like if I didn’t have my caring responsibilities.

I was running through Steven’s daily script with him first thing. The support worker who had covered my respite night from last night was hanging around to the start of his shift today and today’s support worker had just clocked on. Steven suddenly fell into a meltdown as we talked about the plan for today. I wish the guys had just left me to get on with it but in trying to be supportive and intervening they just made it worse. After 10 minutes, I blew!

Later on, I was reading what they had written about the earlier events and I started to really bristle. It wasn’t really the detail but the simple fact that my normal daily life was being observed, judged and reported. You might say that I write about my life on this blog, so what’s the difference? The difference is that I chose to write this blog; I don’t chose to have someone chronicle my life in a log.

And then a thought hit me. Perhaps, I do have a choice. I don’t need to have any logs or recording diaries in my home at all. It is my home and my private and family life. The support worker’s agency may still require them to write something up to keep in the good books of the CQC but that is the only purpose of this endless reporting. So, if that is what the agency wants, they can supply each worker with a diary which the support worker can keep on their person and write up after their shift ends. I do the same thing in my work. I wouldn’t dream of writing notes whilst I am sitting with a client – I do my notes after the session. I never get to see the worker’s diaries which is fine by me.

It may seem that I object to critical writing but actually I object to the “positive” stuff as well. Take this entry from yesterday: “Steven and his father enjoyed good interaction watching a music video”. Besides the obvious thought – “who gives a fuck?”, it leaves me uneasy as there is still a judgement in there, albeit a positive one. Can I come into your home whilst your watching a DVD with your non-disabled child and write about the good interaction you’re having? Is it okay for me to make a judgement that the interaction you’re having is “good”? The other day, Steven and I sat down to share a mini packet of Jaffa Cakes (1 and 1/2 jaffa cakes each) and it was immediately recorded. It is disconcerting.

This sort of thing serves no useful purpose whatsoever. Why should the disabled be supplied with their very own Dr Johnson in order to have a support package? It feels vaguely as if there has been a crime committed and this is the daily reporting in at the police station. I read these logs back and they are nothing more than a chronicle, with a tendency to veer towards chronicling the negative. The writer stays in the background as a commentator. There is little sense of responsibility or self reflection. It is writing for writings sake. The direct payment worker, not only completes the log but also copies what he’s written onto scraps of paper for his own records as well.

So, how does one balance mine (and Steven’s) right to a private family life with this huge steamrolling need within the care system for endless record keeping? Well, it’s my home and I can make the rules. I’m not saying they can’t do their arse covering recording – they just can’t do it and keep the record of it in my home. Let’s see how this runs……….


From → Social Care

  1. Your life is like The Trueman Show……your entire life watched – scrutanised and written down by support workers………..this is not a good situation for you Mark. Your life has an audience ”the support workers” which says if you are a good guy or bad guy…..just like in the Truman movie…………… have to address this……………

  2. I used to get mad when I worked in a group home years ago. The social work inspector insisted that every person we supported should have a daily entry made in their file stating whether they had had a good gay or a bad day.

    I spent at least half an hour quizzing him as to what the point of it would be. He couldn’t answer, but was insistent we should do it anyway. I then asked him what we should do if someone had a ‘good’ morning and a ‘bad’ afternoon. He couldn’t answer that either. I tried asking how we were supposed to know if someone else’s day had been ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – he couldn’t come up with any suggestions.

    So we ignored him, and carried on spending our time supporting people to live their lives, rather than documenting what happened when they didn’t have anyone with time to support them to do what they wanted.

  3. I had a similar problem with my daughter at secondary school. She never got on with her maths teacher and I was forever called up to speak to the headmaster who would read out the diary of complaints. My complaint was that this list of senseless complaints, like speaking back to the teacher, was only going to get longer and longer, and lead to no good end, if they insisted on documenting this in a list. It didn`t. My daughter was expelled from school just before the leaving age. Not one bit of good did it ever do her. Yet this endless listing and diary keeping was supposed to be for her. Who did they think they were kidding?

  4. Nicola permalink

    I am in receipt of 2 hours “care” a week (I have aspergers, Adult ADHD and Deprression) For some reason I didn’t get a “diary” for my care worker. A few months ago during a review it was suggested that this was an oversight and one would be sent immediately. I said – no way at all – I needed 3 hours of care a week, not 2 1/2 hours of care and half an hour of paperwork!

    I agree that if any significant incident occurs then there should be a record, but otherwise his privacy (and yours) should be respected, also he should be treated with dignity – and this constant reporting of every movement does not achieve that. Also do the people doing the recording have any training in psychology or a related discipline? If not then they shouldn’t be recording any more than objective facts – they are not trained to make subjective judgements.

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