Sorry – I’m back on Carespeak again.
Yesterday, I posted a section from Steven’s final care plan. Although there is nothing particularly wrong with it, reading it back makes me cry. I find it so sad that a vibrant young man’s life can be distilled into 12 sheets of paper, with no room for any aspiration or uniqueness at all.
Here is the final paragraph again – “Outcomes”
1. To maintain physical health and well being and appropriate levels of hygiene.
2. Continued 2-1 support with day to day activities and accessing the community (via direct payments on the prepaid card). To be able to access resources in the community safely and to maintain personal safety and wellbeing. To have meaningful participation in activities that aid development and reflect Steven’s personal choice.
“Outcomes” is a funny word. I’m pretty sure that Steven doesn’t think of his life and what he does in terms of outcomes. It’s not a concept that I apply to my life either. Does anybody get up in the morning and think about their outcomes for the day?
There are a couple of points about the language of the whole 12 pages that really strike me. Firstly, there is a total assumption that the reader will understand all the jargon contained within it. There is no attempt to pass the report through the Plain English machine before posting. Back foot time. You have to keep asking what certain words mean and that creates a weird tension. Secondly, the plan reveals a whole set of attitudes that the professionals have about the learning disabled and it’s not very encouraging. It’s like the person becomes a non human exhibit – a project to be experimented on.
So what of some of the key words of the above paragraph? I wish they would drop this “accessing the community” stuff. Steven is the community. “Accessing” it means that he is on the outside of it, waiting to be given admittance. That reveals a strong attitude – “this is ours and you are not part of it unless we allow you to be”. And he can access “resources”. Does he? I think he goes to the gym and goes swimming and has a marvellous music session at the Arts Centre. Does calling these things “resources” make them sound more important? Does it make it sound like the LA have some sort of stake in them – like they’ve provided these resources? Everything Steven does has nothing to do with “service provision”.
What is with the stress on “hygiene”? It seems such an odd thing to have as number one “outcome”. Has Steven ever presented as being unhygienic? Yes, he might struggle is he was left completely to his own devices but why does it merit such emphasis as to appear as number one?
“Safety” and “safely” in the same sentence shows that Hillingdon haven’t let go of that picture they built of Steven back in 2010. Whilst you can’t argue with a desire to keep a vulnerable person safe, I don’t think that was why it warranted two mentions here. It was a harkback to their reports of 2010 for court and their “belief” that Steven could be dangerous. It doesn’t matter at all that there has been no incidents of aggressive behaviour since Steven left the Unit. Unfair and unworthy.
Finally, there is the usual stress that anything Steven does must be “meaningful”. Steven’s life does give him meaning but I don’t think it’s the same sort of meaning that the social care world has in mind. We’ve been to the Mencap Pool today. That means a lot to Steven – the place is full of love. And love makes it safe. But I don’t think the lA had love in mind when they’re talking about things being meaningful. Of course, in that word, we also see revealed that someone is judging what is meaningful and what’s not. Applying a set of values that may have nothing to do with Steven’s values.
“Meaningful” is linked in with “development”. That cranks up the pressure slightly. Not only must what he does be meaningful but it must also develop him as well. Steven reminded me last night whilst watching Toy Story that Woody taught him how to change batteries. That wouldn’t go on a care plan. It’s all about measurement. Everything Steven does has to be measurable in terms of his development. What a way to live a life.
And there we have it. That is Steven’s care plan. Nothing about love. Nothing about fun. Nothing about aspiration. Nothing about relatedness. Nothing about being human. I guess the RAS couldn’t handle ideas like these.