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Call Me Mr Tesco

September 19, 2014

A very worrying thing happened on Wednesday. I got home from my late night at work and Steven greeted me with: “Tell Dad what you did”. This is Steven’s opening line to a confessional. What happened was that he wandered off during the evening. The support worker said he was upstairs running the bath and came down to find the front door open. He found Steven round the corner, knocking on a neighbor’s door.

This scared the shit out of me. I tried to challenge the support worker, who has been quite problematic recently, but his attitude was way too casual. I told him I would put my concerns and expectations in writing and we’d have an urgent supervision session next week.

Writing the letter has been a nightmare – I’ve felt so incongruent. But I took advice beforehand and was advised about the correct processes I need to follow under employment law. So, this first letter merely expresses my concerns and instructions of how I want him to work with Steven. I then need to give him time to absorb, reflect and act upon my letter. If the problems persist, then I move to a written warning stage.

It has struck me that in being forced to become an employer simply to obtain a personal budget, I have to adopt the same working practices as a multi national like Tescos. Pre personal budget, if there was something I was unhappy about, I would contact the agency and they would sort it. Now, I have to follow a set of long winded procedures, even though Steven is potentially at risk. There is no point in me raising this with the council – they are just happy to have got shot of their statutory duty.

Also this week, HMRC sent back my direct payment tax return. Apparently, I’ve missed something out in recording the national insurance contributions. I’ve read the ” helpful guide” several times but nothing I read sticks in my head.

I finally finished composing the letter to the support worker. 4 pages! To comply with my responsibilities as an employer, I’ve had to include: my concerns, my expectations of his role, an explanation as to why my expectations are reasonable, and a very long list of instructions for every single task he carries out with Steven. All this because he’d forgotten that you don’t go upstairs for any length of time and leave Steven downstairs when he is agitated. Or perhaps he’d nodded off. Who knows?

I feel like I’m in a catch 22. I’d love to pass the whole sodding, stinking personalization con back to the council and say “get on with it”. But its too late now. The support workers are employed by me now and they wouldn’t want to go back working for an agency again. I don’t blame them. And the reason why I was forced to accept a personal budget in the first place still exists – the council won’t pay the rates the agencies and the cab firms charge, so Steven would lose out big time – I wouldn’t be able to afford the same level of support that he gets now.

I’m sure though, that when personalization was first thought of, carers weren’t expected to assume the same employment practices as Tescos. I would say that every carer I know has neither the time, the energy or the inclination to set themselves up for such a ludicrous endeavour.

And as I’ve said many times before, all this complete crapshite, just so Steven can go swimming and to the gym.


From → Social Care

  1. Mark, are the council paying you to run this company?

  2. Jayne Knight permalink

    I help people in my area, just a few families now, do this. Are there no people in your area that can? They should include money for this. It makes things even more difficult than they already are but it’s easy to do if it’s your job to do that, not sleep deprived dad.

  3. One of the things that has puzzled me is how your LA can count Steven’s “compensation” as capital and claim it back again in rent. The laws on these things are unbelievably complicated, but now that you are getting better acquainted with it, have a look at Zyn v Walsal online. It’s main point is that money adminstered by a deputy and held by the CoP has to be “disregarded”. Don’t know if it will apply, but maybe worth checking out.

    Finding/replacing – and clearly disciplining – carers if you don’t want to pay agency fees is a bugger. If there was any real will to make DP work, the whole system would be better organised. (I use a payroll company to deal with tax and insurance, whose charges are relatively modest – about £18 a month, and it does make that aspect easier.)

    But yes, we do have to stick to the same employment laws as Tescos – though I suspect we are better employers and more scrupulous about sticking to them. This sounds like a serious breach, though – who wrote your contracts?

    Nightmare when things go wrong – but so are all the other options.

  4. Something else occurs to me – LAs generally will not allow resident family carers to be “paid” – but if you live elsewhere, mine does allow it. Think this issue might crop up somewhere in the Care Act, not sure. Personally, I never liked the idea of being paid to care for my daughter, but doing the LAs admin and record keeping isn’t exactly the same thing, is it. Agencies add a hefty premium.

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