I have a concern.
The first draft & Easy Read version of the #LBBill is just days from being launched. Thanks to the excellent Chris Hatton, I feel very confident that in a price war between the cost of support for someone living in the home of their choosing VS the cost of residential care/ATUs, we more than ring the victory bell. Considering the national weekly cost of a residential placement/ATU is £3300, a very good home care package will come in at much less than that figure.
However, I see a fly in the ointment and this post is a shout out to people, their families, their carers, or any professionals in the field who fancy spilling the beans. I see a potential fly in the shape of supported/independent living flats/houses that seem to be increasingly popular amongst LAs. The recent upsurge in popularity should immediately set off a warning alarm. They have to be the cheap option. Unfortunately, there are precious little figures in the public domain to see how much these types of living/support packages cost. We want to make sure that #LBBill covers all bases and don’t want to be trumped at the last minute by the Aldi’s of care packages – supported living.
My fear, from what I’ve been learning over the past few weeks is that supported living is becoming the new warehousing. Another great idea, kidnapped by the efficiency savings brigade.
For example, I have learned recently about a block of supported living flats where all the residents (about 25) are classified as “high needs”. Each person has their own one bedroom or studio flat. I fell into the trap set by the Spin and believed that as each person had their own front door, their own living accommodation, they would each get their own made to measure care package. Perhaps mistakenly, I compared them to Steven living in one of those flats and assumed that “high needs” probably meant 1:1 support 24 hours of the day. I still felt that the cost of a package like that would still be cheaper than a residential package but didn’t have any concrete figures to go on.
Then I found out, shockingly, that 1:1 support is not happening. At night times, the ratio is 2 staff to 9 residents. The support staff are not with the people in their flats but monitor from outside the flats. No face to face contact. No interaction. And it appears, although I hope I’m wrong, that a “night” begins at 7pm! So, from 7pm to 7am, the person is left on their own in their
cell! flat. Under these arrangements, you can see the costs plummeting. Daytimes are not much better. No 1:1 support. If a person wants to go out, they tend to go in pairs or groups with other residents. And when the numbers for going out becomes unsafe, the rest of the residents tend to get herded into the communal room. The bottom line is that the 25 residents get nowhere near 1:1 support at any time of the day.
I was speaking to a mother last week whose middle aged DS daughter is in one of these types of supported living flats. She has been there just over 6 months. She hates it and is frightened most of the time. The mother and the woman’s sister take it in turns to spend the night with her in the flat because that is when she is most anxious. Not surprisingly, but depressingly, one thing that happened in the first month was for the woman’s medication to be increased significantly. (Incidentally, another shocking figure that Chris has turned up is the cost of out patient psychiatric appointments for people with learning disabilities in 2012/13 was £28.7million. Nice earner there and very nice for BigPharma who will reap the rewards of those consultations). Back to the mother though – she told me that she keeps asking her daughter’s social worker, what was the point of her going to live in this flat? She had a better support package at home and certainly got out more and her anxiety was much much less.
It looks to me that the latest turd in an LA’s crown is to turn the idea of supported living into a residential home in all but name. It’s a warehouse. It’s not about living.
Anyway – the shout out. We need to know the cost of living in a supported living flat like I’ve mentioned above. perhaps there are people who are getting a full, appropriate level of support. if there is – that’s great but it would helpful if you could let #LBBill group know the costs. More significantly, if you have a family member or know someone who is living in supported living under the type of regime I’ve mentioned above, it is important that we have an idea of the costs of that sort of package. I don’t know – perhaps a support package like that isn’t legal, it sure isn’t ethical but anything goes these days. I suspect these figures will be the trickiest to ascertain but are fundamental when costing the #LBBill.
Your help would be very much appreciated. If you know someone in supported living, please feel free to forward this blog post on to them and ask for their help in bringing the figures involved into the public domain. Many thanks.