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Got My Eye On You

December 28, 2014

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.

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From → Social Care

5 Comments
  1. It is said ‘paranoia’ is a type of emotional ‘illness’, but persons who have found themselves ‘fighting the establishment’, particularly the health and social services, often end up deeply distrusting the ‘systems’ and those in charge of implementing them.
    Why? – Because the ‘state’ is far more focussed on protecting the ‘interests’ of the political/medical/ social services establishments, than on the interests of citizens using those services.

    • Pauline Thomas permalink

      True. So true Jenny.

    • Well, you know the saying – being paranoid doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get you!

      The issue as far as I am concerned, is who is qualified to identify the “interests” of people who are individuals first, and disabled people with needs as well? Family members who see the individual, or professionals who spend half an hour with them and leap to a lot of wrong conclusions based on theoretical needs, and squashing individual square pegs into administratively convenient round holes?

      When I first learnt of the role the CoP was going to play in our lives I was horrified. I have now changed my view, and do feel that it can, perhaps, provide some protection – at a price! Not so sure about the role of the OPG. Apparently, the Annual Report form is due to be changed soon – some guidance on what goes where and what is and isn’t OK. would be nice! Professional Deputies charge lawyer’s rates us lay deputies just have to get on with it as best we can. After a few years, the terror does subside, but the confusion stays.

  2. I feel this with my son’s D.P. audit too.

  3. Anonymous permalink

    I work for ‘the state’ and I have to say that I find your blog spot on, reading it really makes me think about how I do my job, and the impact my ‘assessments’ can have on people, and I think it makes me a much better care manager. I must say, I’m not a fan of the fairer access to care services, and most of us try to bend it to fit the person as best we can (can get away with). I find the everyone goes on and on about being person centred, but everything seems to be designed to go against it.
    I really hope your blog is read by the people that decide how things are run in social care, as I think listening to what you have to say would really benefit future services!

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