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Friends With Briefcases.

May 24, 2015

I’ve got a bit of a lump in my throat this morning.

One of the support workers told me a story about a mate of his who is employed by a care agency. One of the mate’s jobs is to go into a residential unit and take a young guy to the gym. Last week the manager of the unit contacted the manager of the agency expressing concern about the mate breaking professional boundaries. He was suspended pending an LA investigation. What did he do? It was the client’s 30th birthday. His only family, his brother, was out of the country. Knowing that nobody at the unit would acknowledge the birthday, the mate went to visit his client with a card and present. It was his day off. He was called into the manager’s office, and this is the bit that chokes me up, was reminded that he is not a friend and had crossed a professional boundary. Had he?

Steven’s thoughts are very much on his holiday at the moment. This morning he was running through the plans for the day we arrive. I’d already told him that I would have to go out for the shopping, so he said, “Steven Neary will do some swimming with his friends”. Am I meant to correct him on this? ” No Steven. Alan and Das are not your friends. They are your employees”.

I’ll always remember how the social worker, in her statement for court, put the words Steven’s friends in inverted commas. It expressed incredulity that he might have friends. It also felt slightly mocking. This othering of a learning disabled person’s experience is why I shudder at terms like Circles of Support. It distances. My friends don’t need a one page profile of me to reacquaint themselves with before we meet up.

Later Steven will go off to the Mencap Pool. When he gets back and I ask him who he saw there, he’ll say “Steven Neary’s friends” and will reel off a list of names of people he saw there. Should I tell him that Richard and Jean are not friends – they run the pool. What about Tyler, his personal trainer at the gym? Steven sees him as a friend because Tyler will sing Proclaimers songs whilst they are doing a chest press.

My friends are my friends for some simple reasons. I like them and they like me. I care about them and they care about me. I’m interested in them and they’re interested in me. We make each other laugh. That’s it. Odd though it may seem on Planet Social Care, Steven’s relationships are built on pretty much the same foundations.

Steven is sharp. He relates very differently to someone who turns up with a briefcase or a file. He senses the interaction is different. He doesn’t include the briefcases in his collection of friends. I’m not sure how he categorizes them but they’re not on his friends radar. They occupy a different space in his taxonomy.

As I write, Steven is listening to his Sunday tape with his support worker. They’ve just had a song from Blood Brothers that Mickey and Eddie sing. The first line is “My best friend always has sweets to share”. In a minute, they’ll go off together to the shop to get some milk, the papers, a bag of Frazzles for Steven and a caramac for the support worker. Same routine every Sunday. When they get back, the support worker will break his caramac in two and share it with Steven. They’ll eat it together whilst discussing dead pop stars.

Perhaps I should buy the support worker a briefcase for his caramac.

From → Social Care

  1. Truly moving and unfair for the young man and the support worker who is under investigation. I do agree that the sphere of relationships for anyone who has no one else in the world would need to include workers and carers as their friends and family. We do live in a over pc world, almost bordering on the absurd. However, being the devil’s advocate for social care, the worker could’ve done that in a different way to safeguard himself and the client.

    • How could he have done it different? How does it become a safeguarding issue?

    • weary mother permalink

      I agree, How?

      I was a graduate social worker and many other things related,…… for over 40 years.

      Go into any city centre and watch the sad groups of the ‘disabled’ Some with Down’s, some others in wheelchairs all have learning disabilities. Staff chat amongst themselves. The ‘disabled’ trail or are pushed along isolated in their own mental space.

      The only thing the trailed or wheeled have in common is some form of learning disability. They are collected from wherever they live and put together as a group of people who need pushing or trailing into the community. Friends?

      There are magnificent exceptions where carer and the cared for meet on a common ground of shared humanity and respect. They get on. Two people who trust each other and where power is not a variable. This relationship can only exist easily between two people where neither has been ground in the professional modification mill. Like Steven my son recognises the other kind a mile off………………..

      Now spit this fine hair into the middle and show me where this ‘professional’/peer respect, liking even – boundary actually is? One Adult Care manager makes me (far less my son) feel with one brief glance that I am guilty of a very serious felony.

      My son calls his current support worker ‘my home care’. His ‘home care’ is hurt for he has a name. My son has been around the care system for nearly thirty years and seen them come and go; the worst and the best. He likes …. his ‘home support’ is on zero hours contract, and they enjoy each others company. Trust may come later. Power corrupts – absolute power corrupts ……etc etc.

      Are paid support workers……. guards, peers? friends? Are professionals Public resource gate keepers…..only?

      Define pictorially please?

      • meg permalink

        I have worked alongside the types you speak of. However, though I and my colleagues are oft in some conflict with our supervisor, most of us are good friends with those LD adults we work with (I loathe the term ‘service user’ which comes from banking). Particularly in the community, with people who are otherwise lonely, bored and isolated the building of trust necessarily engenders liking, caring, enjoyment – all parts of friendship. Yes, we are paid, yes this is our job but it is not ‘just’ a job, it is a way of life, an ethos for living; to care about and for those less fortunate and try to give them a leg up towards equality.

  2. Auti Boy permalink

    I think, on paper, the senior figures involved have created a watertight case to support their warped but, let’s hope, well intended MO. The way the ‘rules’ are applied shows the fitness, or not, of senior figures to govern staff and care for the vulnerable. There’s that word ‘care’ – there’s no S at the front of it, nor should there be. Care should come FIRST but we’re too wrapped up in phrases and fear of litigation that vulnerable people are ‘service users’ benefiting from the ‘choices’ permitted within a ‘person centered approach’ rather than seen as human. The fact that so-called experts, care managrs etc, can use it to their personal advantage or just fail to observe the effect on the person whose care they purport to be responsible for – and good staff – demonstrates their lack of suitability for and failure in their roles. Care is not a difficult concept to grasp. If anyone finds it so they’re in the wrong job however, ‘on message’ they seem. Covering their own backs does not protect the individual for whom they are paid to care. This is a classic demonstration of individuals creating a system doomed to failure despite or because of all outward appearances.

  3. Carole Cliffe permalink

    The MCA and the social care worker code of practice clearly give guidelines on how to behave with the vulnerable in terms of accepting and receiving gifts and this person has clearly breached both. Whilst we can subjectively review it on a personal level knowing how our loved ones are emotionally touched by such thoughtfulness we really do not know the intent of many so that has to be tempered with objectivity as however “good intentioned” it may seem we all know the vulnerable are all to easily groomed and manipulated. So I think there needs to be an understanding that professional barriers are there as control measures for risk and the “approach” is two fold. The relationship with support worker is a lot more intense and intimate. A better approach could have been to discuss it with management and seek authorisation first and/or ensured everyone clubbed in to buy him a card signed by everyone involved thereby diluting its personalisation and reducing the risks to everyone involved. It is naïve to believe that someone in such a powerful position may not use that opportunity to groom that person…..Its different in setting where you are overseeing and observing for many that is not the case and they need safeguarding….

    • What a sad depressing state of affairs.

      • meg permalink

        Mark. Carol’s statement is true. These are the rules and the reasons for them. However, wrong uns in this line of work would not do their grooming so publicly. I always log my giving in my LD people’s comms books (hence the frequent tellings off). Maybe it is because I came to support work later in life, I have not allowed common sense and my humanity to be swept away by fear of litigation or of a ticking off nor even a disciplinary. The people I support are people with more than your average share of problems they need support to try to solve, the system regards the people as problems to be solved. So I will continue my wee forays around the pound shops

      • Nichola permalink

        Far from protecting vulnerable people, these daft regulations put them in more danger. The culture of mistrust these petty rules and guidelines have created means adults are now apprehensive about intervening or approaching anyone – even when they seem to be in danger. Last year, for example, the NSPCC – an organisation that has been at the centre of child-abuse panic-mongering – published a report which found that two-thirds of adults would not approach a child in distress for fear of reprisals. Now that is truly frightening. These ridiculous rules are anti human and corrosive to society. They reflect a terrifying level of state intrusion into how a person conducts themselves. It would be unthinkable for the three women who support my sister not to acknowledge her birthday with cards and presents, just as it would for my sister not to do likewise to them.

    • Yes, it is possible for an unscrupulous person to use a position of power to “groom”. But it isn;t at all naive to assume that the majority are NOT going to use their position to abuse. You work with someone on a daily/regular basis, you form a relationship. Not necessarily a friendship, and yes, most people, including, or maybe especially, people with LD can figure out for themselves where the boundaries should be. It absolutely shoudn’t be the case that someone outside that relationship should dictate artificial and damaging boundaries. If sensible boundaries get crossed, then deal with that situation when it arises. My daughter gets cards from carers, and ex carers, and the people in the corner shop. It delights her, and anyone who automatically frames it as a “safeguarding ” issue is in the wrong job.

  4. frannie permalink

    The relationships and friendship my son has with his support team are invaluable to us and him and have said NHS and social care buckets loads of money by preventing long hospital admissions, he is learning disabled and has mental health difficulties, it is vital to improve the social support for our young adults,maybe the LA should read this book, you can be professional and a friend, our young people just use the terms they understand

    Improving Mental Health through Social Support

    Building Positive and Empowering Relationships

    Jonathan Leach
    The social support someone receives or has access to plays a vital role in their mental health and wellbeing. This accessible book examines the nature of social support and how it can be enhanced, focusing on relationships between service users and supporters. This is an important book for mental health professionals, social workers and students.

  5. Sally permalink

    It’s difficult. Paid friends are the pretty well the only ones my son can have. There’s the odd kindly word from a known shopkeeper or pool attendant but pretty well everybody apart fromfamily is paid to be there. He has a hazy awareness that some some sort of money is involved and this is some sort of job, but doesn’t quite get it. I worry a lot that his boundaries are so hazy he is intensely vulnerable to anybody who says they are a friend. He would go anywhere ,do anything because all his friendships are a bit odd with people walking into his life and suddenly taking him out.
    He is terribly hurt when these employees, as they do, leave the job . He can’t understand why they have gone and don’t seem to want to see him again. This makes him think less of himself as a person not worth keeping in touch with.
    In the case you described, of course there should be a card and modest gift signed from everybody where he lives. If it was looking like that won’t happen and the worker doesn’t feel able to raise it, he really should mention to his manager the case and that he is giving a card ,because that what you have to do and he would have known that. And his manager would have said OK and noted it down.
    It’s a really kind and lovely thing to do, it’s just flagging it up beforehand.

  6. Thoughtful piece Mark. These issues play out in my head all the time and I think both apply to some extent. If we were better at supporting people to the people they want to be and do the things they want to do then real friendships and connections can be a reality. The more we hide people away and turn the lights out at 8:30 !they more they can only rely on paid care as friends. Maybe these are the stepping stones from institutions to real lives and the friendship of support staff, carers is one of the ways towards that. After all a friend will look out for a friend in so many more ways than an institution ever could. Need to think how the impact of non regular care workforces can have on people’s idea of friendship. Neighbours and real community can be longer term friends. nice post Mark as ever making me think and I’m with Steven. Frazzles rule

  7. Helen permalink

    For all sorts of reasons very moving – why are we allowing care to be so dehumanising. Maybe it starts with not allowing the word care. Hx

  8. There is a difference between grooming, which involves showing abnormal levels of affection (for example, to one service user but not to others), buying them expensive gifts, taking them to places behind the backs of their normal carers, and normal human interaction. If he bought him a card and a small present on his birthday, that’s just normal. If he was the only person who did that, the others are negligent, unless the service user is from a cultural background where birthdays are not celebrated.

    I’ve also heard of a care worker inviting his service users to his wedding (all of them), and his manager telling him to rescind the invitation as it was “inappropriate”. I’ve also heard of a warden of some sheltered flats for elderly people being sacked for going into a resident’s flat, at their invitation. I don’t believe professional boundaries have anything to do with it. It’s about the service provider’s liabilities, stupid rules made to prevent a repeat of specific previous incidents, and perhaps about the view of the service user as an “asset” — if an agency care worker develops a relationship with a service user or their family, he might decide to work for them without the agency as an intermediary. An institution looks after itself; looking after anyone else is just a means to that end.

    • I’m inclined to agree Matthew. The “safeguarding” emphasis seems to be for the providers benefit.

  9. I remember once blogging about being a teacher with needy & vulnerable children – it’s a similar situation. It is really difficult, but very important, to be clear (especially with yourself) that you care for them in a valuable but professional capacity. If you have gaps in your own life, you can kid yourself that you are central to them, rather than just a part of their lives. (Human relationships are all too easy to get confused, as you must know from counselling!)
    Carole, Frannie and Sally make good points about this. Carer and cared-for both need support in developing, understanding & maintaining a strong positive professional relationship. Nowadays we immediately think of safeguarding in terms of physical or sexual abuse, but it is also harmful to encourage someone to believe you are someone permanently and lovingly in their lives, then abandon them because you are just there for a limited period of paid employment.
    However none of this should rule out ordinary considerate acts of kindness, done in a way that isn’t open to misinterpretation.

  10. Some of these comments, in promoting professionalism, are bordering on dehumanising the cared for person – and If agencies or providers operate in a way that dehumaises the cared for person then THAT is a serious safeguarding issue!

    There is no harm in a kind gesture of giving a birthday or christmas present – the manager in suggesting there is an issue creates the problem.

    And here I suspect I have to plead guilty if giving gifts is a crime. Our night staff work alone, with little of no contact with the other staff. So when one of them had a baby there were no colleagues to provide a baby shower or present. There was just me and madam. So once the baby was born we took them out to lunch and bought a present for the baby – if anyone thinks this was wrong – well tough – look to themselves for fault.

    It also reminds me of an incident some years ago. I was at church on a sunday morning and there was a sort of pre christening presentation during the service for two christenings that were taking place that afternoon. The baby was surrounded by a huge extended family. The toddler, a little boy who was due to have heart surgery that week, was just with his mother. The wider family was coming to the christening but not to the morning slot. After the service I went to the repository (church shop) and bought some small items for the little boy. I gave them to the Priest to pass on to him and his mother. The following week the Priest told me that the mother had been overjoyed to receive these gifts from a stranger. Did I have an ulterior motive? Nope – I had just noticed that the mother appeared a little uncomfortable surrounded by the other huge family and I wanted her to know that she was not on her own.

    If any of us are able to offer a thoughful gesture to anyone we perceive as needing that gesture then it should never be judged as anything other than that – whatever the so called professional boundary might be.

    We are all human and to isolate a person because of professional boudaries, especially when the care worker knew that his would be the only present and card, is inhumane.

  11. weary mother permalink

    Pat spot on
    i have commented on this issue below before, on this blog.

    As a social work student i was given the ‘case’ where I met a sparky intelligent ninety year old woman just a few days bereaved of her partner of over 60 years. Within days of the death, beneficiaries (with some clout) of her partner’s estate wanted her out of the cottage, and into a home. Enter me, social work student. Her partner now so recently deceased, owned their home and almost all the contents. some of which had value, including jewellery. When I arrived beneficiaries (who included the doctor) were clearing out the cottage around this bewildered old lady and had removed most of the furniture and jewellery that the two ladies had shared. She sat in her gradually near empty home, alone, watching this happen. I brought her a flowered plant in a pot, as a gesture that something was coming back in and I put shillings in the gas meter as she had none in the house and was cold, .In addition I was keen to ensure if the old lady’s rights (if any) to stay in her home could be proved for she was, when I met her, perfectly capable of staying there.

    I was immediately over ruled (only a student) and told to keep out of this by my senior, my job only to find a residential placement. The old lady deteriorated in days, grief and loss ignored/overuled. She was put in a geriatric hospital, where they lost her teeth. She died. Within 3 weeks of her partner.

    (I was reprimanded by my supervisor for over stepping the boundary with the plant and the shillings)

  12. This has caused me a lot of angry laughter. As a person on the spectrum I am often told that I need to learn about shades of grey and sometimes other colours – life isn’t all black or white I must learn!

    It seems to me it is the neurotypicals here who need to learn this!

    A person doesn’t have to be a monochrome professional or friend, they can be both! When you go to work are you only allowed to be friends with people who aren’t above or below you on the management chain?

    A gift and card doesn’t have to be either bland, impersonal corporate approved and tax deductible or sinister evidence of grooming and nefarious intent. It can be neither! If you and your boss are at the coffee shop and he has forgotten his wallet – is your offer to buy him a coffee evidence of your intent to bribe him?

    Why do the “managers” simply see those who need care as the family Labrador, needing feeding, watering and walking twice a day? Also how many of the “support workers” simply don’t dare to care – either because last time they did they were told off for being inappropriate or raising expectations, or even worse it hurts too much to leave a friend after a few months so the only way to avoid the pain is to avoid the friendship.

  13. Shirley Buckley permalink

    I quote the psychiatrist employed by the CoP 2007. It is a well documented phenomen that care staff become very loyal to those in their care, they accept a high degree of abuse as part of the job and do not write entries (of incidents) either because tthey do not want to get the cliend into trouble or because they see the incidents as being nothing out of the ordinary. The other statements attest to the warm and positive feeling that the carers have towards Martin The carers were from Zimbabwe and they all saw Martin as part of their extended family, it was one of the happiest things that have happened to him), The psychiatrist was warped, I had the weirdest conversations with him. The next psychiatrist (court visitor) “the parental relationship may be of crucial importance in cases of undue influence and in Mr Buckley’s situation his mother is his family” Another one who is totally screwed, This is sick, sick sick. . the concentration camps made the guards (carers) believe those under them were not human which paved the way to them being treated as not human. This is so sick once again my mind boggles. I am not a christian and never will b e, but my God, if I did have one would preach that I am my brother’s keeper.

  14. Katy permalink

    I will repeat and add to my comment made on Facebook.
    The stance seems to be that those wishing to maintain a professional distance are in danger of not actually caring for the people they are employed to “Care” for”. Maybe they should change the label to “Maintenance” instead of “Care”. Since they don’t care but just maintain these people’s existence.
    This brings to mind a young blind person I know, who lives in care.
    In the two years that he “transitioned” from 16 to 18 years old he was moved between 10 different placements until a permanent, (miles from his original home, school, friendships) more rural secluded “home” was found. He has been living (for about 6 -7 years now) in a shared house with another young disabled person whom (he says) he hates and who hates him back, bored, lonely and far from anyone he had real friendships with.
    During that transitioning time he took to calling all his care workers “Carer” and not bothering to learn their names. When they inevitably chastised him for being rude he would inform them that, since they wouldn’t be around for long and were only there because they were paid to be, it wasn’t worth the effort learning their names.
    We have occasional telephone contact, when he saves enough money to buy mobile credit and I call him back. I never call him, even on his birthday, as I have long become tired of the inevitable well meaning new staff grabbing the phone off him to ask who I am and why I’m calling etc etc. As if they haven’t already removed him far enough from society.

  15. Kaz permalink

    The fact is that all humans form friendships in a variety of circumstances and this includes those in the field of care work.

    Some of the views I hear about this are patronising. My view is that if an individual (my daughter) is capable of understanding the label of ‘friend’ she will understand how that relationship can change too. That is because of the changes she has managed through life – she is familiar with ‘endings’ ie. School transitions; deaths; moving out; moving on and those that simply ‘fizzle out’.

    What she and I value is that she does find friends in her circle no matter if it is a professional one originally and I (and others) help her understand when that means her friends have to behave differently because of their professional role or have to move on.

    Safeguarding isn’t a different issue if a care worker is regarded as a friend, because the process of observation and signs of abuse would be noted regardless. Safeguarding is too complex an issue to simplify in such a way as for an individual to avoid friendships with those charged with their care.

    I value those people in my daughter’s life that behave humanely first no matter whether they have a professional role to fulfill. In the same respect, I also value those people in my life that behave humanely too!

  16. meg permalink

    Mark. If I had a pound for every ‘boundary’ I cross when with the LD adults I support I could have retired a year ago! I support LD adults who live in the community independently. Some have family around them but many don’t. For these people, a birthday card and a small gift can make a huge difference to their self worth. They see and hear others talking about what they had for birthdays and xmas. They know they have no one who cares for them enough to buy a gift. So, for these few I hit the pound shops and the charity shops, picking up wee silly bits for their special occasions as they arise. How this chap has been treated though is so OTT. Effing ridiculous. On the topic of friendship between we support staff and the folk we support, one of my lovely ladies introduced me to another person as ‘my carer, we’re not friends but we are friendly’. She is one of the recipients of my little purchases and it ibviously hasn’t blurred any boundaries for her.

  17. Jayne knight permalink

    I have employed support workers in my small organisation for 30 years and everyone is aware of who we all are and what we do. If you haven’t got any friends a paid one is better than no friend and often the relationships have turned out to be really special. We try really hard to help people make other friends and keep up relationships, and I can’t believe what happened to that support worker. Of course you have to watch out for rogues. That’s a sad part of life but it shouldn’t stop you supporting genuine people, who in my view are in the majority. Don’t ever think as a manager you should be apart from all of your staff. If you are part of all they do you’ll soon spot a rogue. I’ve never really had a bad one working but I’ve spotted and stopped some. It starts to be in your DNA!
    We need to help people form those friendships and by showing them what a friend can be we can help that. Having a real friend is very hard work and demands reciprocation. That can be very hard for the ordinary person in the street or someone else who has some challenges too but sometimes that can work. Like everything it takes a warm heart and common sense to be a good friend and also a support worker. I’m sorry that lad has had his warm heart frozen and hurt by ridiculous management.

  18. emily permalink

    Dehumanization at it’s worst.

    On a happier note, lovely picture on the top of the blog

  19. I have a 1 page profile and so has some of my friends. I agree that this is ridiculous what happened as he should be able to support the person outside of hours as a friend with the person. Support workers should be able to be seen as friends. As its up to the person who they want to call them and if they want to be friends with. At the same time the person should be encouraged to have other friends too.

    • meg permalink

      You are spot on JC

    • wearymother permalink

      Common sense needed?

      In the real world:
      support workers are employed on basic pay or are contracted per job on a zero hours basis. It is a myth that these agencies spend extended time explaining what sensible safeguarding looks like to ever changing support staff, far less monitoring whether they are giving birthday cards to clients. Many agencies are desperate to hang on to staff. I know of examples where a home support carer manipulated, neglected and put vulnerable people lives at risk repeatedly, and was not wafted near safeguarding, or sacked. Many/most? carers are sensible kind compassionate people who are shocked and moved to tears at the degree of neglect and misery and isolation they find, Many put in extra time unpaid and buy small treats to offset that isolation and misery. They do it out of shared humanity and the mutual relationship than comes from getting to know people. They use life experience and common sense. There is always the risk of a rotten apple, it is the job of a competent manager to know the difference.

      (Only when things go wrong and complaints are made do the LA (in my experience) become aware of even serious realities, and even then can be very reluctant to take these issues to safeguarding process).


  20. cherryblossom permalink

    This is a very interesting topic. I have privately employed people to ” support” my relative for many years. I prefer the old fashioned term of paid companion. I once employed a woman for many years who my relative liked but it became increasingly apparent that the lady was exploiting my relative’s affection for her to satisfy her own emotional need. She thought she was far more important in my relative’s life than she actually was and tried to undermine me and discredit me .My relative went off her anyway. Matters came to a head and I gave her the chop whereupon she started stalking us! She even tried to stick her nose in the relationship my relative had with her new companion. Her attitude toward my relative was like she was the pet labrador and how dare you take her away from me. I felt like I was bullied by my employee ! It can be difficult when money changes hands as people can think they have some sort of official role rather than just being a friend.

    • Sally permalink

      I agree. The term paid companion is a bit Edwardian but I think it describes the relationship very well. It is wonderful when there is warmth, affection and humanity but this person is also an employee, always. A good manager must make it clear to staff beforehand what the rules are with gifts etc. it used to be a card was the limit and that you would make it clear that the cards would be proudly displayed in the office where everybody could admire them. “Cards only” worked both ways. It prevented clients giving things to you which you really could not and should not accept but to refuse caused hurt.
      Regarding an earlier comment I don’t think it’s patronising to say that paid friend is a difficult concept for the intellectually disabled. It sure is for my son. Why is it that the attractive young woman who comes around ,takes him out etc can’t be his girlfriend? Why does X come to his home but he can’t visit X ? Why has X left to take up another job, can’t they meet after the job? (Not understanding that he ,too, was a job.) Is X his real friend? Why did he leave? Are friends people who know all about each other or are friends people who only know about you and are paid?
      I once worked with a social worker who had lost her boundaries to the extent that she couldn’t do her job. She would tell clients all about her private life, visit their houses, iron their shirts, The Christmas presents were substantial. The clients had no idea what this person’s role was, and oddly she wasn’t doing much of what she was paid to do. Whe she retired she tried to maintain the level of contact. The next worker had the task of resetting all the boundaries and trying to get it clear who was meant to do what. A good manager would have kept an eye on that, but she was pretty stubborn and just wouldn!t say what she was up to.

      • weary mother permalink

        Complex issues here, we all agree.

        But in a Political/social context where even the basic levels of safe care (”happy a want not a need”) are being removed or diluted away from the most vulnerable in society, sensible staff erring a wee bit on the compassionate side is the least worse issue here?

        Re the clearly needy (possibly ill?) SW you describe, exceptions should not define the rule? And perhaps? the manager was the problem there, not the SW?

        (on a possibly slightly less balanced/personal level, there have been times when I have been too exhausted or ill to fill in all the dangerous gaps left in my sons life by a cash strapped (apparently) LA, I would have accepted (almost) any help from (almost) any source with keeping my son safe, till I got back on my aged feet. At the time, it would seem potentially lesser of two risks.

        No attempt by you or any commentators here to over or under state the potential for manipulation etc of very vulnerable people, by other people.

        BUT: at the present time far too many learning disabled people who live in ‘supported ‘ accommodation (misnomer if ever there was), have no access to health care, for there is a cost saving.arse covering debate going on between NHS and LA’s around whose job/purse it is to help people access it. And even if the zero hours carers have soft hearts, they would at least notice that some one is starving or ill.

        My current aged opinion? There far bigger issues in our unequal world than too soft hearts and the odd birthday card?

      • meg permalink

        Well said Sally. Applause applause applause

  21. Pauline Thomas permalink

    What a sad sad world we live in when an act of extreme kindness and empathy is since as ‘crossing a boundary’.

    Many years ago a teacher from my son’s school wrote in his leaving card ‘the sunshine has gone out of my life’. Thank god she is retired now or otherwise she would have been hung drawn and quartered by the over zealous safe guarders that rule now in our care system.

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