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The Manager

May 27, 2015

Clink. Clink. That’s the sound of several large pennies dropping in that hollow brain of mine.

I’ve had two reactions to situations over the past couple of days that have left me uneasy. I haven’t liked how I’ve felt. On Monday evening, my respite evening was shafted. The new cab firm have turned out to be totally unreliable, so I had to spend my free evening sorting out a new company to do Steven’s transport. By the time I got to bed, I was fuming with resentment.

Worse, on Sunday I found myself getting irritated with Steven. He was watching an epic 4 hour music video and wanting to discuss everything he was seeing on screen (“Dad – Frank Sinatra’s spreading the news. That’s a bit silly Frank. You can spread butter but you can’t spread news”.) I was trying to work out the support workers’ holiday pay. But I had to give up after half an hour because it was impossible to concentrate. It needed to be done though, so I knew I’d have to get back up after Steven had gone to bed. And for a while, I resented Steven for that.

Clink. I’ve become a manager. I spend less and less (I don’t like this phrase) quality time engaging with Steven because I’m always having to manage something. The care package, the personal budget, the support workers, the list is endless. I’ve never aspired to be a manager in my working life and now I find myself as an employer and a manager. How did that happen?

Clink. Its down to Personalization. The social care world, with its lack of insight and imagination, has created something in its own image. An army of managers that spends so much time managing nothing it hasn’t the time to engage with what really matters.

Everybody is a manager in social care. I used to go to meetings and everyone there had the word “manager” in their job title. Steven’s old social worker wasn’t called a social worker – she was a Transition Manager. I asked her once what that meant.? I needn’t have bothered. ” I manage Steven’s transition to adult services”. A nothing job. There are no services to be transitioned into. A manager who manages nothing. She might as well have been called, “Door keeping Manager” and manage opening a door on the cliff edge of Beachy Head.

So for Personalization to work and for LAs to rid themselves of all their statutory duties and manage nothing, they’ve had to create a whole new band of managers. The families, the carers now do the LA’s old managing role, as well as the normal day to day stuff of caring. Something had to give. And that something was human engagement.

I don’t want to be an employer. I do not aspire to being a manager. I’d like to be Steven’s dad. Or just Mark.


From → Social Care

  1. Sally permalink

    I love the Beachy Head analogy !
    Personalisation is nothing more than the Government shrugging off its responsibilities onto unpaid carers. It saves a fortune. Insultingly, it is presented as bringing freedom. We were all going to be lounging about while eager workers took our happy offspring out to scuba dive. SO much better than a day centre or sheltered work.
    Being a manager means that person is not in charge of providing direct services. He or she simply presides. This is a nice spot to be in ,as well as appealing to vanity, which is a BIG factor in all this.
    Don’t forget the term”specialist” applied at random and good old “signposting.” “(I am here to point, not provide.”)
    What they point to with direct payments would be the time Steven spends with his carers during the day, the taxi, your respite. What is never, ever ,even alluded to is what it costs you in time and stress for this to be possible.
    What if they said:
    “Hello ! We have decided we won’t provide good day activities for your child. You do it ! You will need to hire, fire, payroll, interview, budgets, audit, and provide unpaid payroll ,human resources and accountancy. Every hour of care for your child will mean three hours of unpaid work by you. And none by us ! Hooray ! enjoy your freedom and don’t forget to get the forms in!

  2. Anonymous permalink

    Dear Mark,

    Direct Payments gave my son a life. A life where he was fit and healthy despite his disabilities. That was taken away when we asked for respite and it took 4 years to get my family member home.

    The pain and suffering that we have endured the trauma that it has left us has made me think about where and how we have lost the way as humans and that profit comes before the person.

    If I were to calculate how much it cost my family member being incarcerated and in constant ill health which prior did not exist one would calculate has been double the direct payments.

    Direct payments give you control and vet who comes into his life thus able to support you in giving Steven his choices and Steven living with his Human Rights intact…..

    Your a great Dad you are his Dad you will always be his Dad and a brilliant advocate.

    Managing the care package is part of giving Steven HUMAN RIGHTS. Maybe its time they calculated your time spent on paperwork and bureaucracy and paid accordingly. thus still saving thousands from the public purse.

    • I agree. Personalisation has been great for Steven, except that I am not as available to him as I used to be and I know he misses that. The point of the post though was how it has impacted on me, and for the most part, it is horrid.

  3. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Mark, I echo the sentiments that Anonymous has posted about your credentials as a fantastic parent. What makes your parenting so awe inspiring is that you are doing it alone. I know you have a good team of support workers, but at the end of the day it is down to you keep the ship afloat. I know that I could not continue my caring role without the support of my husband. When the going gets tough (and it has lately been awfully tough), I just hand the reins over to my husband and he does the same to me when he is tired and needs a break.

    It is entirely normal and understandable to lose your rag at the person you love most. I would like a pound for every time I have lost patience with my son recently and then felt extremely sorry for my behaviour immediately afterwards. We are all human and caring for someone with LD can be so lonely and frustrating as well as draining. Sometimes I look at my son and feel this overwhelming pity for him and for the life he has to lead. Sometimes I wallow in self pity too.

    We are in our seventies and our son in his early forties and our caring roles have gone on for many years. Sometimes lots of laughs, sometimes lots of tears but always a dread of what will happen when we can no longer cope. It was not always the case that we felt this way. My son went to a great school, a good college and a not so bad day centre. Life was OK. All changed now. We are expected to become dynamic employers of support workers. Imagine families without disabled relatives being asked to organize their loved ones lives for them. There would be an outcry. We cannot do it.

    Many years ago my dear sister’s son died. He was 20 years old. He developed massive cysts on his brain and he slowly lost all his sight and slipped into a coma. In her grief she begged the doctors to save him and she wanted him to be alive even if he was so disabled that he needed life long care. Now 30 years later she looks at our life with my slowly deteriorating son’s mental health and she says I did not realise how hard it would have been if Chris had lived.

  4. Shirley Buckley permalink

    Pauline I am 80 and fighting the lone battle as ever. Martin isn’t even at home but incarcerated in a residential care (prison) in Wales. For us all there is only one single problem – the hostility of the LA. With the minimum of co-operation from them we might all have a little more hope for the future. Mark can you think of any time when SS said “we can make it a bit easier for you if we do so and so”. My LA have spent the last year insisting that they are right in over ruling my EPA. Hours and hours and hours and all they had to do was say the EPA is valid which it is.

  5. I empathise. I spend time managing my own DPs, the alternative is to pay a company to hold the money & handle everything, but then there’s less money in the pot to pay my PA. And don’t get me started on payroll companies – I took the one the council recommended and they were dreadful. I raised complaints and I understand they are no longer used – but that doesn’t give me back the money and time and energy I wasted in dealing with them. So now I do that myself, too.

    I have a PA because I need assistance. Yet I have to waste energy dealing with her pay and paperwork etc.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for DPs. If not for them, I wouldn’t have a life at all, and wouldn’t have got to any of my many medical appointments. But it is so exhausting having to deal with the admin, and takes you away from having a life. As Steven’s situation is far more complex than my own, I can’t quite imagine how exhausted and frustrated you must be.

    Much love.

  6. ParentCarer permalink

    That is the reason why I refuse to manage my son’s budget and I have a managed budget. At least I have the day to recharge my batteries and do what I want to do without doing the local Authority’s work for them. When my son is home I want to spend time with him, because like Spephen he specialises in repeating phrases and this can go on all evening. I just think if I had all the extra work as well I would feel very resentful and my son would pick up the vibes. For the few hours he has with a carer they do not always want to do swimming and carer is not well, imagine if we were managing the budget we would be completely sunk if no carer turned up. Local Authority’s answer is find another agency I told them to sort it I am not doing it. I feel sometimes you have to be bloody minded when dealing with them.

  7. nic permalink

    I see in slow motion the awful moment a care plan was spun across the table at me by a senior manager. My daughter had requested the assistance of a broker to support her in sourcing help.The manager spat the words at me ” the broker can’t spend endless time with her “. I assisted my daughter in everyway I could to achieve self directed support but it was nothing less than a part-time job in itself. There was no LA help offered, the threat ( evidencing of budget restriction ) of residential placement was made within a year of independent living being achieved. It provided a sufficient backdrop of fear to ensure I covered every need that fell outside the budget allocated . The DP was better than what the LA had in mind .

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