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Plugged In. Switched Off

July 12, 2014

I know this post is going to make me sound like I’m auditioning for Grumpy Old Men. But if anyone dares accuse me of being a middle aged bore, I’ll hit you around the head with my long playing gramophone record of Suzi Quatro.

I had to let one of the support workers go this week. It’s a shame really because he does some very good stuff with Steven. But he’s also maddeningly inconsistent. This is the guy who I found fast asleep on Steven’s bed mid-shift. The same guy who the other week whilst doing a night shift seem to completely disappear. I had over an hour of Steven coming backwards and forwards into my room whilst the support worker should have been stopping this. Eventually, I went downstairs because I was worried something had happened to him and found him on the sofa, plugged into his I Phone. He hadn’t heard a word of the previous hour’s meltdown.

He did another night shift this week. The arrangement is that whoever has done the night shift does Steven’s bath the following morning, lets the daytime support worker in to get on with doing Steven’s breakfast and then the night shift worker can clock off. The whole point of the night shift, once a fortnight, is to give me a break from those jobs, and hopefully get a lie-in. Tuesday morning Steven came into my room at 4am – again, no sign of the worker. he appeared about ten minutes later but by that time we were all wide awake (except him). I laid in bed whilst he did Steven’s bath and could hear Steven getting quite worked up. Steven likes to run through what he’s going to be doing that day whilst having his bath. He was telling the support worker but getting no response at all. This gets Steven very worked up – he doesn’t understand talking to someone and not being replied to. The the doorbell rang – the morning worker arrived. Five minutes later, he rang again. I could hear Steven saying: “Open the door for Chris”. It rang a third time and I got up to answer it. The bottom line is that the guy did the whole bath with his earphones in – he didn’t hear a word that Steven said – he didn’t hear the other worker’s arrival. For him, listening to whatever it was on his I Phone was more important than interacting with Steven. More important than doing his job. Again.

I was feeling a little guilty this morning as I set off for Uxbridge. Should I give him yet another chance? At the bus stop was a young woman on a hands free. She was talking very loudly with big, expansive hand gestures and kept getting in people’s way. At one point she stood in the doorway of the newsagents. A woman with a buggy tried to leave the shop. She said “excuse me” four times but wasn’t heard. In the end she had to wait for the woman to move off.

I then went to HMV. Steven has been asking me to get “Stop In The Name of Love” by The Supremes. I was in the queue (or rather, I was the queue). There was one cashier serving a young woman who was buying several DVDS. She was also talking on her phone, describing in graphic detail to the person on the other hand, her trip to have her feet manicured. Three times, the sales assistant asked her to enter her PIN but she was so engrossed in her narrative of her feet, she didn’t hear him.

Blow me down. I was waiting for the bus to bring me home in the bus station. An A10 pulled up. About 30 people moved forward to get on it. The man next to me was tapping away on his tablet. After at least five minutes, the bus started to pull away and the bloke suddenly realised it was the bus he wanted to catch. he went legging after it, banging on the windows but it sped away. He came back to the queue, effing and blinding about the “ignorant” bus driver.

In each of these stories, I did consider for a nanosecond putting the person straight. But it would have been pointless. They were switched off. Possibly permanently. The guy who missed the A10, we completely oblivious to the bus trying to pull up behind him as he stepped into the road to continue his rant. For the woman with the toenails, her story was the most important thing in the world to her – it was the world.

And that’s why the support worker had to go. I’ve tried to talk to him about it before but what I was saying just didn’t register. His need to listen to 50 Cent was the only thing that mattered. The rest of the world has to accommodate that need. But when a support worker is on shift, I want them to be plugged into Steven. Switched on to his world. If not, I see no choice but to pull the plug.

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From → Social Care

12 Comments
  1. meg permalink

    Not grumpy at all Mark. I would not have given that many chances

  2. Debra Oliveri permalink

    I find that just as sad is that Steven was not being “heard” – a one way conversation is both meaningless and ignorant.

  3. Sally permalink

    Don’t feel guilty. The man is paid to, among other things, be able to listen to what’s going on and to respond.Its enraging that he was, bluntly, bunking off on the job by listening to music so loudly he couldn’t hear Steven.And he knows full well that Steven will have to turn to you/wake you if he can’t get a response.And he knows that there goes the very small amount of sleep you are able to have.
    Its the height of rudeness to be engrossed on the phone etc when talking with other people . Its a statement of just how unimportant you consider the person before you to be.And that’s what really rankles.Thinking about Steven struggling to have some response to his attempts to chat.
    My son, like, I guess many kids with learning disability spend a lot of time trying desperately to talk to others-tell them things of interest, make friends, try out jokes. He does get hostility, but most often he is ignored. I can’t imagine how lonely and frightening it must feel for him to feel that unheard and unimportant. So stuff this worker. Writehim a letter if you have given op on speech and tell him exactly what the problem is with him choosing to listen to loud music and drown out you son.

  4. Weary Mother permalink

    This is appalling selfish and uncaring behaviour. My son’s support worker manipulated him routinely and could have killed him (on numerous occasions) by a range of dangerous driving practices., I found this out only by belated comments by my (independent living) severely learning disabled son..

    In spite of my complaints to agency and LA I found that this support worker was not fired. The LA who commissions the agency stated the it was satisfied that agency had used proper complaint process, but LA ”has no power to sack agency staff”. This worker is I was told very recently, still employed by this agency, ‘supporting’ vulnerable learning disabled people. With direct payments…… though I see few if any benefits for us ‘oldie’ parents with ‘independent living’ son’s daughters/…. neglectful and abusive staff can be moved on..,,,,,,,,,,,,but only if vulnerable LD people can communicate that the behaviour is happening..

  5. Jo Curphey permalink

    Good for you – there are far too many people out there being paid to do things like ‘support’ and ‘care’ for vulnerable people when they literally do not understand the meaning of these words in the context of their roles. Not only are they neglecting their service users needs but they also give carers and support workers a bad name generally and make us parents feel suspicious, anxious and mistrustful.

    • Pauline Thomas permalink

      It is scandalous that so many LA’s have literally abandoned any responsiblity for their choices of outsourced care agencies, and instead use the phrase ‘has no power to sack agency staff’. (Weary Mother’s post). What a cop out! They will argue of course that they have a safeguarding process for complaints. Safeguarding themselves and their reputation usually. As Mark once posted that for them it is all about image. They use the excuse that our loved ones are unreliable witnesses. They need to be held accountable for their choices of care agencies.

      Winterbourne View was owned by Lydian Capital Partners, a Geneva based investment fund. It beggars belief that someone somewhere thought that giving these businessmen the red light to make money off the backs of people with learning disabilities was right or even ethical.

  6. Nichola permalink

    You did the right thing. Trouble is, he will find other work and someone else will be at the receiving end of his negligence and indifference. It’s the thin end of the wedge. That prevalent attitude towards people with learning disabilities caused LB and countless others to suffer and perish. If a future employer asks fo a reference, don’t hold back.

  7. Weary Mother permalink

    I am pursuing this issue. This worker was up to all sorts, too many to relate, and the most serious, could have paralyzed or killed my son on numerous occasions through support worker driving on the phone without own seat belt and with own children in the back, also without belts. And having raging and repeated F word rows on phone with another, while driving. It went on for months I found. My son has a major spinal repair and a number of fragile crumbled discs in his spine. A sharp stop could have been fatal – he could have had a child through his head etc.

    I got a blunt letter in response from LA agreeing…’serious issues’, which had been dealt with through agency process etc. End of matter. I pursued it, asking if these serious and dangerous issue had been taken to safeguarding. Also asked for dates, please, when this agency contract had been monitored.

    It took 5 months for a reply. Long officialese letter, and I still have no idea whether it was taken to safe guarding and if so, the outcome. Nor do I have any response to the request on monitoring process.

    I expect to hear that if I am not happy I can take these issues to Ombudsman. Another nightmare in terms of effort and stress. Been there before, got the bruises. The LA banking on wearing us out, I conjecture? The Ombudsman process will take ages, then will agree ‘mistakes were made’. A hundred lines ‘we must be nice’, and 5 minutes on naughty step to LA. Meanwhile business as usual back at the LA office? Water closed neatly over heads. Back on anxiety pills in our house.

  8. Weary Mother permalink

    Oops I forgot, the recent lengthy aforementioned officialese letter, from LA, also stated ‘if you think (driving) behaviour is illegal you can contact police”. Who has Statutory duty of care and the duty to report suspected crimes against vulnerable people etc; here for a middle aged ‘independent’ living seriously learning and physically disabled man ? Clearly must be me, a very old oldie and the only person I suspect, who was monitoring the contract.

  9. Debra Oliveri permalink

    Weary Mother out of interest is this an Oxfordshire LA and support provider.????

  10. Weary Mother permalink

    Debra..no but I understand why it could be. Similar in a number of ways.

    • Debra Oliveri permalink

      Weary Mother its so similar its scary, doesn’t give us parents much hope. As for LA`s they are supposed to be “safeguarding” not us.

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