I’ve reached the conclusion that as part of the deal of being a carer is that you find yourself showing alarming traits of fear and suspicion. I don’t believe that caring automatically sets off a paranoid state, so what is behind this? My feeling is that everytime I read or hear a carer displaying fear or suspicion, they seem totally justified in feeling that way.
Two stories have popped up for me over the past couple of days.
Firstly, I was reading a post from a carer that I have an awful lot of respect for. She had been out Christmas shopping with her father, who she is the financial deputy of. The father wanted to get her a present. My friend, who manages all his money became very nervous about being party to buying a present for herself out of his money, even though he was asking her to do so. Her mind immediately leapt to what would the Office of the Public Guardian make of this. I understand this all too well. Last year was the first time I was inspected after becoming Steven’s property and affairs deputy. He had received his damages from Hillingdon and also moved into his own property during the year. I had spent a few thousand pounds furnishing the house for him. When I cam to fill in the official forms, I became very anxious. What would the official view be of this expenditure? Would they say that I had been wasting his money? Worse, would they say that I had been misappropriating his money? I ended up handing in a five page report, with a detailed explanation for each thing that I had brought. The inspection went well but as I sit at my desk, typing this blog, this year’s report is lying beside me. The same anxiety rises up. How will it be viewed that I paid for Steven’s holiday? Will I be told off for spending £100 to replace the support worker’s glasses that Steven broke? Stupid fears but that’s what happens when you become so answerable to the State.
The other reminder of the carer’s state came when I was reading some of the feedback for the #LBBill. There is a constant theme running through most of the feedback on each of the clauses. People want watertight definitions of everything. What is a home? What is a community? What does residential mean? How do you define a carer? I understand totally where this comes from. Everyone commenting has at some point in their caring life fallen foul of the State ignoring, manipulating or abusing the law for their own ends. There is a lot of finger pointing in the social care world but nothing more threatening than when the State starts wagging its finger at the carer. Most people who have been on the receiving end of a Fairer Access to Care Services assessment, or have been through a RAS, or have been subject to the Fairer Charging Policy will want as little wriggle room for the State as possible. All these processes seem to have as a starting point: how do we get out of this rather than how do we make this work.
18 months ago the BBC published a piece I wrote about the differences between my life and Steven’s life under the spotlight of the social care world. I can add another to my list. Next week, I’ve got to go and buy a cooker for my flat. Nobody will scrutinise this event. But if I buy Steven the new Take That CD, I will have to demonstrate that I have used his money to do so, in his best interests.