Skip to content

Fair Do’s

June 15, 2013

Yesterday, I was contacted by a long standing member of the Get Steven Home group. She was looking for advice and also asked whether I would write about the latest development in her son’s care package. She was in despair and seriously considering giving up caring for her son at home because financially it has become impossible. She asked to remain anonymous, so I’ll call her Sue and her son, Gary. This week she received two letters from her local authority. The first one, received on Monday, was headed: “Fairer Access to Care Services” and informed her of changes to Gary’s care package, following the “award” of a personal budget. The second letter, three days later, was headed: “Fairer Charging Policy” and informed her that Gary would now be expected to make a financial contribution to the previously free of charge, outreach services. You can probably guess where this story is heading…….

For the past two years, Gary, who is 27, has received a care package of 20 hours per week support. The council have directly commissioned an agency to provide the support, so Sue has never been involved in the finances of the package, although she knows that the agency charge an hourly rate of £17.25 for their services. A total weekly cost of £345. The 20 hour’s support was assessed to cover the following:

* 1 hour of personal care first thing in the morning, five days a week.
* 1 to 1 support to go with Gary to the gym for 1 1/2 hours, twice a week.
* The remaining 10 hours was meant to cover 1 to 1 support to enable Gary to access a college course, 1 1/2 days a week.

One problem that Sue has always had with the current package is that the agency could never find staff willing to work a one hour shift to cover the personal care; they insisted on two hours per day. To meet this demand of the provider, Sue had to use some hours from elsewhere, so it meant that Gary could only attend one of the identified college courses. The bottom line is that the support package was used entirely to meet the agency’s fees; the course fees, gym membership, travel and the support worker’s meals had to come from Sue or Gary’s pocket.

So, where do Gary and Sue stand now? Having been reassesed under the fairer access to care services, the support with personal care has suddenly disappeared off the care plan; the social worker wants Sue to encourage Gary to be more independent (that old chestnut again) and take charge of his own personal care. However, he is still assessed as needing the 1 to 1 support to attend college and the gym and to meet that need, the LA have allocated Gary a personal budget of £136.50 per week. A reduction of £208.50 from the previous budget. Sue is expected to find a provider herself, so if she sticks with the current agency and the staff that Gary is comfortable with, she hs the funds to purchase just 8 hours of support. 20 hours has now been reduced to 8 through a combination of a dodgy reassessment and the unknown algorithm the LA uses for its resource allocation system. What all this means for Gary is that he’ll either have to drop his college course or stop going to the gym; he cannot afford both.

But that’s not the end of it. The second letter informed Sue that under the fairer charging policy, Gary is now expected to pay £38.27 (!) per week towards the cost of his £136.50 per week care package. Sue is dismayed. Where on earth are they going to get this money from? I haven’t mentioned the bedroom tax they’ve had to pay since April because Gary is an adult and not taken into account as part of Sue’s household. The only possible solution is to give up the gym membership (and also save on the travel to the gym). As she is now in a position of being able to afford less care, Sue is now needed at home more to provide the care herself. That means that she will have to give up her job where she works seven hours a week. And Gary will get out of the house for about five hours per week to attend college. Thank goodness though, that all this fairer.

The despicable spin of the “fairer” language leaves the disabled and their carers in a very dark place. The package that Gary was receving has become decimated but apparently was less “fair” than the current package. The implication is that if the new package is “fairer”, he was getting away with something with the previous one. Was it unfair that Gary had a life where he could attend college and the gym twice a week and that Sue could work for 7 hours per week. It must have been because now, they’re being told that their package (life?) is fairer.

How can Sue and Gary be helped? They can appeal. They can ask to go before Panel. They may even be able to challenge this through the courts. Whatever, it all feeds the system even more and the fundamental inhumanity of it all can be glossed over.

It stinks. It’s hateful. And it’s as putrid as unexpectedly finding a pile of vomit on your eiderdown.


From → Social Care

  1. One question: ” the support worker’s meals had to come from Sue or Gary’s pocket.” Why?

    Most people, including me when I was able to work, never had jobs where food was provided – why are support workers different?

  2. once again excellent writing from Mark and he tells it as it is…….

  3. swanarchie07 permalink

    Brilliant blog and yes this is happening far too much. Was only the other week I encountered this wuth my own father. Never had to deal with adult ss as my little boy is only 6 however my poor dad now needs pain patches on his back that he cant do himself and someone to help him too the shops to collect his pension and pay his bills and under the ” fairer charging” policy he is chared £17.50 per week for a 15 minute call. Without it my dad would suffer and be in hospital that would cost so much more. I feel for these people its there lifes and why shouldnt they have one.

  4. swanarchie07 permalink

    Reblogged this on half a decade old.

  5. Ron – it’s pretty commonplace for the service user to have to pay for the support staff’s meals whilst they are out. I used to get really pissed off about this because Steven would go to his water aerobics class that finishes at 11.30 and then go to Greggs. He would have a chicken slice and the support workers would get something too. It used to cost about £6 every time they went. But whenever I moaned about it, everyone told me that it was expected of the client to provide the meals.

  6. I know this is an old blog – I have been reading them backwards after finding today’s on the BBC. I wonder why there isn’t a social services user group where we can compare notes and try to change their autocratic behaviour as a group? I have a 23 year old daughter with cerebral palsy living at home. I work from home and until recently social services expected me to both work and look after her. I threatened to take them to court for reckless abandonment of their duties as when I am working I am effectively not around and my daughter would be alone. She now gets 30 hours direct
    Payments for access to the community. Still not enough as if she were in an independent living home they would need to provide 24 hour care. Parents are seen as cheap options and because we love our children we won’t fail them regardless of the damage to our professional life and health. So how about it do any of us have the energy to show social services what social should really be?

  7. Andrew permalink

    I’m a social worker and have worked for some years with people with learning disabilities and have ready your blog with great interest, prompted by the link on the BBC. I now work with ‘older people’ – the elderly.

    I absolutely agree with the comments about jargon and language and I am very familiar with the ‘unknown algorithms’ used by the LA I work in. In practice, the algorithm produces a financial figure based of our scoring the level of needs that we judge a person to have. We then try to match that figure to the amount of hours care we judge the person to need to be ‘safe and well at home’. As you can probably imagine, the figures rarely bear any resemblance to each other. So the algorithm is effectively ignored in favour of providing the minimum number of hours for a person to be ‘safe and well at home’.

    The system is a cobbled together mess of other systems that have been gradually altered over time. Its very frustrating.

    Having said that, the budgets available to younger adults with learning disabilities dwarfs what’s left over for the elderly, in terms of what’s available for the individual. I have never ever heard of an elderly person receiving anything like the number of support hours you mention in this post. I have some sympathy for those who question why the taxpayer should be paying for people to go to the gym, or to the pub, or whatever. Services for older people have so little money that it is now deemed as acceptable for incontinence to be managed by wearing pads, rather than the LA paying for carers to assist someone to the toilet in the night time. And if anyone has over £23250 in savings, then forget any help at all, we send them away with a booklet listing care agencies and tell them to get on with it. Its bleak. I think services should be re-balanced to reflect the disproportionate amount of money spent of services for people with learning difficulties and this money should be made available for the elderly.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Fair Do’s | For Love of the Mainman……

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: