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Bitter Pops

November 30, 2013

This week the agency that supplies Steven’s support workers were inspected by the CQC. It sounds like it was a very thorough inspection. They spent a long time in the office – they spoke to me – they spoke to three of the support workers – and, they spoke to Steven’s social worker, or for some reason, the manager of the positive behaviour unit. It may be that the CQC still have him as their contact point from three years ago. I know that whilst Steven was held in the unit, I was deliberately blocked from giving feedback – when the CQC did their inspection of the agency a year later, they were surprised that I existed!

The reason why I’ve mentioned that we don’t know whether it was the social worker or the unit manager who gave feedback, is because the only negative feedback came from that quarter. And it struck me as being a bitter move. And like so much else connected with the LA, so biased as to be laughable. But it’s not laughable because the reputation of the agency hangs on things like this.

For the past four years, Steven has gone once a week to a day centre run by the positive behaviour team. In all honesty, I’d rather he didn’t go there. Our history is contaminated and there is always the risk that they will still interpret Steven’s behaviour through their 2010 lens and cause all sorts of problems. The support workers are bundles of anxiety whilst they are they – continuously being watched and their interactions with Steven logged by the centre’s own staff. It must be a horrible working atmosphere. I found out recently that the centre has been “rebranded” or “reimagined” – it isn’t a day centre any more – it’s an “outreach base”. God knows what that means but it might mean another of the new innovations (like meeting in Costa), where the expectation is you start at the building and then go off somewhere from there. That’s pure guesswork though.

Despite my reservations, Steven still goes there because he seems to like the place. He likes the three other service users and looks forward to seeing the manager there and having a sing song. He is there for four hours and the only thing he does there is to make his pepperoni pizza – there is nothing else to do, so the rest of the time, he sits and watches the telly.

The feedback the CQC received was that there were concerns about the lack of interaction with the support workers and they were not motivating Steven to engage with the activities on offer. This is where the framing becomes a bit dodgy. The feedback makes it sound like the place is a hive of activity but the reality is quite the opposite. It is hard for the support staff to motivate Steven to do something that doesn’t exist. But that piece of the jigsaw is left out of the official feedback. I’m going to ring the CQC on Monday and put them straight on that one – I don’t like them being misled – especially as the misleading is only done to score some bitter points.

The only other query that came out of the inspection was the “lack of record keeping”. I knew that would come up ever since I decided last year not to keep any of those intrusive logs in the house any more. It was quite an awkward moment with the CQC man because he obviously took it for granted that every home care package should come with a mountain of paperwork. But that’s not my problem – if the agency need to keep records purely for an inspection, they can do that and keep them in their office.

So, all in all, a good inspection, soured slightly by the continual need of the LA to get in a revenge poke whenever the opening arises. Such a shame.


From → Social Care

  1. Sally permalink

    Mark, please do set them straight. Invite them to suggest which of the plentiful activities on offer Steven isn’t being encouraged to do. Change the TV channel? Open and close the door?
    I agree the re branding has a nasty flavor-an outreach “base” has no connotations of a place required to offer activities. Its a meeting point, before you go-where?
    According to the London Mayor’s latest speech our learning disabled offspring are the cornflakes at the bottom of the box, who fail to be inspired by the rich and clever. Is giving our lot less part of a strategy to motivate?

    • Pauline Thomas permalink

      What utter worms the people who run your LA must be. Are they real? Are they still trying to punish you for winning the day? What is a social service dedicated to helping people like you and Steven doing if they are still trying to hurt you both? They are acting like playground bullies.

      Have you ever seen the job descriptions they put out in the Guardian when they want managers to run their adult care services? In the past I have read them and thought they were advertising for a cross between Mary Poppins and Mother Theresa. The candidates must be knowledgeable in implementing ‘Valuing People’ and sympathic towards vulnerable people who have learning difficulties. That is before I read between the lines that what they really wanted was a PR person to paint the council in a good light and to brush any complaints of bad practice under the carpet. In short, they only employ sycophants.

      My son and his needs are somewhat different to you and your son’s and I would suspect that everyone else who rely on their social services all have different problems relating to their loved one’s care. However we all share the same frustration with the complete lack of understanding and compassion from our local authorities when it comes to actually providing proper care. It is if the people in charge of social services believe carers have made a life style choice when it comes to our loved ones. Hands up if anyone when they started their family expected to have a child that needed lifelong care. Needless to add I do not love my son any less because of his disabilities in fact I probably love him more. The need to protect my son is fierce as it is with most parents.

      The managing of the closures of our borough’s day centres was so badly implemented that it has affected a lot of older people with LD. The consultation at the time was lauded by our councillors as one of the best in London. (I live in the London Borough of Bromley}. Indeed quite alot of the money gained from the government of the time for the implementation of ‘Valuing People’ was wasted on this grand affair. High profile meeting places in plush hotels, food laid on. The sad thing was that most of the grand plans that were promised in this brave new world were never ever implemented. At each council meeting after another the plans were being abandoned or scaled down. I think the most cruellest cut was to scrap the funds for ‘double running’ the services while the changes were taking place. This is what caused the most harm to the most vulnerable. This is what changed my son from a happy man to an angry man. The activities like woodwork, pottery and bowling were regularly scrapped because the staff were being asked to accompany service users who were being contracted to do paper delivering, working in the new cafe and other community work The poor sods left in the day centre who were not able to take on these new roles were left twiddling their thumbs or herded into one room to listen to ‘Dr. Finlay,s Casebook, on the radio. I kid you not! No wonder my son had a breakdown. His life had changed and not for the better. He has been so damaged that he refuses now to go anywhere that involves the council. They must be so pleased. Another person off their casebooks.

      • Weary Mother permalink


        Totally utterly Spot On. Your comment captures where we all are currently, and the way we and ours are viewed.

        Post the people cleansing of day care ‘users’ (non people) we have be left with underfunded ware houses for the most vulnerable. We are back in the very bad old days. And If we express our exhaustion by using up the little energy we have left, we parents are seen as the unreasonable bunch. Another species of non people just having a rant!

  2. Kay permalink

    Yes, do make sure the CQC are aware of, ahem, divergences between reality and, er, perceptions. They are not always rigorous about probing below the surface of what is being told them – look at the differences between these two reports into the same place, less than two years apart:

    One of them is unlikely to have been accurate.

    • Weary Mother permalink

      Have read both reports. Would the inspecting members of the CQC continue to live, or permit their own family member to remain, under appalling conditions like this. If not, why is the place tolerable even in the short (usually much longer) term, for the very vulnerable.

      If not, why did they not shut the place down, and immediately hand back the responsibilities for providing safe, respectful and good care, to those who have a statutory duty to ensure it?

    • Kay – this was the place LB was held on wasn’t it?

      • Kay permalink

        And the place he died in. Fear and loathing…

  3. Sally permalink

    Yes.My son was offered 3 activities from the DCT last school holiday . Each involved walking about a rather bare centre with a couple of picture books and one ball pool. For 6 hours. Bring your lunch.
    The services manager-you’re so right Pauline-who from the job description you’d think was a caring dynamo, is the most insipid “oh, these wretched parents” individual I have ever encountered. I raised the lack of things to do, ever so politely, respectfully.This holiday, my son has been awarded NO activities. Coincidence?
    Ismail Kaji, a learning disabled young adult has an open letter on the Mencap website saying that he believes he IS somebody who contributes to society. So far, only 3 others have written in to support him. None of them seem to come from any other services for the disabled!

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