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The Things They Don’t Tell You

April 28, 2015

I discovered this morning that I’ve got another (Bullet point 323?) piece of information to add to my ever growing list of “things they don’t tell you before setting you up with a personal budget.

I wrote a while ago that I was astonished when I received the 4 page “everything you need to know about managing your prepaid card” booklet, to find most of it was about all the things you couldn’t do with your prepaid card and the penalties and punishments for abusing the card. The one thing the booklet didn’t tell you how to do was how to make an online payment using the prepaid card – the one thing that every cardholder wants to know because the way the personal budgets are calculated around my way is the only thing you can use them for is to pay staff. The prepaid card company’s transaction screen on their website is far from straight forward and I defy anyone to get a payment correct first time without having to phone the company first.

Anyway, on to today’s discovery. I’ve got a problem with one of the support workers at the moment and want to change the shift rota around to accommodate him. I’ve spent days trying to sort it out so that I achieve the number one aim of keeping Steven safe but also, trying not to let the staff lose out by less hours and less money. That has proved impossible and I’ve been left with two people where I want to reduce one of their nightshifts from every other Friday to every third Friday. One of them is okay about this – the other one isn’t. I thought I’d better check where I stand on this, so for the first time since getting a personal budget, I phoned the local disability charity. This is the organisation, the council now signposts all the service users to for “support” with their personal budget. The LA don’t actually provide any support around their own scheme anymore. Hopeless. The chap said that it wasn’t their role to offer this kind of advice and in any event, he didn’t know the answer anyway. He offered me the phone number of a local law centre and advised me to contact them for employment law advice.

So I did. And talked (or rather listened) to a lovely woman who gave me advice on the procedures for verbal/written warnings, changes to contracts, the rights of the workers when their terms of employment change and how to make a toad in the hole without a sausage base. I took about a third of it in.

If I press on with what I think is in Steven’s best interests, could I find myself before an industrial tribunal? No idea. Possibly. Probably not. It’s concerning nonetheless.

I don’t want this post to trigger lots of well meaning advice on employment law. That’s not the point. The point is the mis-selling of personal budgets. Nobody in their right mind would take on such an onerous task if they knew everything that was expected of them.

Unfortunately, an alternative doesn’t exist anymore.

From → Social Care

  1. On a totally unrelated matter, you may like to know, if you don’t already, that there is a place called Cowley just outside Exeter. When you come to the West Country it might be best not to mention that to Steven if you think it would confuse or upset him. On the other hand he might find it amusing. Not sure if you’ll be passing that way anyway.

  2. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Mark I think the whole idea of personal budgets is the biggest con trick ever played by so many LA’s on so many hard pressed parents/carers. It adds anguish and worry to people already coping with the every day stress of raising a loved one with additional emotional and physical needs.

    I think the title of ‘social services’ should be renamed ‘do-it-yourself services’. LA’s are shamefully shifting their responsibility onto people who are already disadvantaged by their caring role. Sadly the people who are unable to take on this added burden of managing their loved one’s budget (that is me), have to have a ‘take it or leave it’ service. We have chosen to leave it as the dire state of the alternative services after day centre closures made my son worried and ill. What ever happened to person centred planning? My LA have never come to terms with it!

  3. weary mother permalink

    And the alternative is leave the job with LA. They commission, usually from a satellite of the cheapest large provider. Then family( lucky ones still have family) fights for years for safe care from a base line of barely inadequate (without a solicitor remains very basic) home support. Sadly too true for too many.

    Then get more support but from scarily poor agency support worker; find out only by chance for people with learning disability can fear speaking up for ‘not wanting to be rude’. Complain to agency and meet offended defense and nil action. Complain to LA, they ‘forget’ to look into it and months of inaction and huge stress.

    Then the good bit: a really good support worker arrives. Phew!

    Then you find out good support worker is doing some stuff that could put son/daughter at risk, and/or occasionally cuts the hours short. What do you do? Complain to agency and the good one is replaced by another bad one? Have a word directly with support worker and he/she sulks or worse around family member and makes them miserable and implies that they have ‘grassed’.

    It is too easy for inexperienced staff to like or dislike our sons and daughters on their compliance or the opposite, out of sight. Unless our vulnerable people speak up we do not find out, and their manipulation is so easy?

    The issue of who monitors services directly commissioned by LA, on behalf of the LA, is easily answered. Family does it or no one does it. Only support hours and costs are measured. So there are penalties on both sides of this support equation.

    Leave it to LA to commission? And every day is a day full of stress and impotence and ‘do I or don’t I act for fear of making it worse for my son/daughter’? Best/better worker is moved on, or if the provider is sacked the LA can too often leave a dangerous gap of no support at all till a new provider is commissioned.

    Direct payments ? And everyday is one of a mine field of staff recruitment and money management, stress, impotence and grinding administration.


  4. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Weary Mother you are so right. It is such a shame that social care for someone with a learning disability can be fraught with so many pitfalls. My son is still at home and the thought of him being looked after by people who just do not care enough to make his life worth living feels me with terror.

    I have known and liked so many lovely people who have been in my son’s life School, college and day centre staff. Additionally I have met some awful, mean and downright rude staff who have made my son’s life a misery. The latter being the people who have made my son reluctant to participate in any of the sparse services still on offer. He has been traumatized by their lack of understanding. They believe that people like my son are incapable of depth of feeling and that you can say or do anything to them and they will not mind. In fact they dehumanize them by holding these views. They are so wrong. It is our emotions that binds us humans together and people like my son are no different to anyone else when it comes to hurt feelings.

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