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The Manager Part Two

May 28, 2015

I received some interesting feedback on my post yesterday, “The Manager”. A recurring feature of several comments was why do I not avail myself of the support services available to help me in my unexpected, unwanted management role?

I’ll tell you why.

Let’s take the payroll company the LA recommends. Each week I would have to send them the 5 support workers’ time sheets and the hourly rates of pay. They calculate the tax, national insurance and nett pay. They then send that information back to me to make the actual payment. The task is broken down to three stages, presumably increasing the time spent on each stage of the task. I can do the bit the payroll company do – I have a calculator, I have the HMRC book of tables. By employing a payroll company, I only succeed in spreading the onerous task over a number of days. It becomes a week long job rather than the three hours it takes every Thursday.

Let’s take the ” support and advice agency”. The LA fund a local disabled charity to provide this service. I phoned them once for advice on how to get out of using the prepaid card the LA were forcing every personal budget recipient to use. The person I spoke to at the agency admitted that she couldn’t help me. Not because she didn’t know the answer but because she wasn’t allowed to give advice that may be contrary to the LA’s preferred way of doing things. The support agency were scared of compromising their funding by being helpful.

Let’s take the prepaid card system that we have just managed to escape from. The antiquity of the system meant there was no choice in how, when, where I managed the payroll from the card. Three to five working days to move funds from A to B needs constant attention from the carer to ensure basic things like paying the support staff actually happens on time. The system prevented doing things in advance. So, if we were going on holiday, I couldn’t set up a payment to be made in advance, whilst we were on holiday. I’d have to take all the paperwork with me on holiday and attend to it during the week away. But the direct payments manager, or the support agency’s manager can take a week’s leave without work intruding.

Social care loves to outsource. It loves a middle man. In fact, the more middle men the better. In best social care bureaucratic traditions it creates as many blocks as it can between it (the LA) and the people using its services. That’s bad enough but it presents these blocks as useful, helpful. And if you fall into the trap of believing they are useful, you find your management role of the care package has become even more complicated and time consuming.

Its all circular. Social care has designed personalization in accordance with its own operational principles. It outsources everything, therefore believes the only way the carer can be supported is for them to outsource the management functions incumbent on receiving a personal budget. Social care believes to solve anything, you need to create more and more layers of management. So it follows, that in order to solve its “how do we get out of personalization” problem, it turns you into a manager.

All of the above gets in the way of life. People keep saying that the carer should be paid for managing the LA’s responsibilities. I should invoice them for all the admin work their systems have created. I’m not sure about that. I might end up with a few extra quid in my pocket but I don’t want money. I want time. I want a non management life.


From → Social Care

  1. Great blog about the realities of direct payments. Keep fighting. X

  2. Luckily, the charity funded by my council to provide support over DPs has two people. One is very straight laced. Fair enough. The other is a little more inventive and makes me aware of hypothetical possibilities… 🙂

    • Anonymous permalink

      Wow you are lucky my LA has taken away the brilliant service that was available to enable people to troubleshoot the complexity of actually implementing DP.

      I could not understand why this valuable charity was shut down? I do now….

  3. Apart from the buck stops issue which can be very pressured, you’re so right about the amount of work it takes AND the problem with so-called support organisations which can limit not help. LA seems increasingly to contract out to generic do-everyone agencies on advocacy, carers and so-called DP support. The problem is that means no specialist expertise for more complex needs, less locally connected too and even more dependent on LA contracts… In LAs desperate funding situation there’s also less and less… I personally find the card a better option for me – I do it all on line including using the payroll option – just send them an email of hours; they email me the net pay to make, and send me the payslips and NI payments etc. But all a more straightforward support service though – and recommend 4-weekly pay periods which they do too!!

  4. weary mother permalink

    Direct payments or leave it to LA to commission, both are horrid.

    It has been obvious from previous comments on your blog Mark that not all LA’s are incompetent or total bas..ards. Some families and paid carers seem to be less impacted on by poor services or cynical LA’s. . My sons LA appears to come somewhere in the middle of all the negatives
    We refused direct payments for I am old and the LA has a very poor record/reputation. My son substantially learning disabled and lives ‘independently’!

    Four years ago quick and ‘dirty’ assessments appeared to cure even previously substantially learning disabled people. Now only moderately disabled, they can receive little or no support. Day centres were cleared of most clients, These ‘cured’ families can now buy some day respite for what to me seems huge fees. All gaps in support, including even basic health care and crises support appear deemed to induce ‘over dependence’. And then there is the magic mystery tour and the roll of dice outcome of next assessment/review.

    Our life is one of constant oversight of the agency commissioned by LA. And of supporting all health care needs, crises resolution, and liasing with all else and everyone, etc etc etc, every day.

    We families, who depend on LA contracts, now face the wrangle between NHS and LA around whose job/purse it is to support the most vulnerable people in society to access/receive health care. Till the bill and responsibility is agreed the sick learning and physically disabled person waits, and …….stays sick. Unless aged parent sorts it.

    All of of which has robbed me of my happiness and health. It has also robbed my sons’s siblings and my grand children of time with me, and me of what should have been joyous time with them…

    Direct payments or the alternative…both are robbery – both horrid -, both suck.

    • My LA is, in theory, one of the “better” ones – but with restricted funds and staff cuts, I am not that sure that they HAVE any social workers. The DP team are hopeless, and getting any help or advice impossible. The Finance team does the supervising, and they don’t seem to have any clue as to how the DP team works.

      We are lucky in that my daughter has funds to pay for what she needs – but the end result is that, like you Mark, I now spend my time caring for the carers instead of for my daughter. THEY know, if Social Services don’t, that I am the expert when it comes to my daughter, but it is draining. I do use a payroll company which seems to be pretty efficient, but it still takes a lot of organising – and I live in dread of carers leaving. Help with recruitment is non-existent, and agency fees exorbitant. Between the LA and the CoP, getting a life really is an impossible task.

  5. And if you did charge the LA for your time, they’d probably only top-slice it from Stephen’s chunk of the ‘Fairer Resource Allocation’ cake, leaving him without hours or his support workers on lower pay?

    • Exactly. They are prepared to pay through the nose to these agencies they outsource to but nothing for the people doing the work. I guess it’s the same as their readiness to pay £3500 per week to keep someone in an ATU but won’t go anywhere near that figure for a home support package.

  6. Sally permalink

    You are so right. Outsourcing is a great evil because it diffuses responsibility, and means the carer is now the negotiator and go between for many different services which are under no requirement to work together, I really really do not want to be an impotent manager of a mini company, to argue for a budget and then decide how to spend it, get it costed, approved, staffed, paid, recorded. Who would?
    Mark you described feeling stressed when Steven wanted your attention and you were trying to sort out some of this. I really know that feeling. Giving my son’s talk half my attention, desperately asking him to wait, because I am also sorting through a pile of papers or looking up an email to try to figure out if, say, “access for all” is the new title for “options for change” or perhaps”steps to independence” and what these blasted groups or group do. It all takes is street up because of what you fear if you get some aspect of it wrong.
    I have found the helper services to be hopeless. They often have no idea what the other services are doing. Nobody is in charge.
    I once lost my temper with a social worker, sorry, care manager(there’s that word again) who had sat while I cried about needing help, sleeplessness and so on. She waved respite away. What I needed to do was to put a note up on a community board and interview candidates for caring . I then simply had to forward their details, collect their NI numbers, arrange for police checks…
    My son was going through a bad non sleeping patch and it was taking all my strength to sit upright at the table. I lost it and shouted”Why should I take on all that? Can’t you do it? I thought you were meant to help, not tell me to go drag someone off the streets !!!”
    This needless to say did not result in any help.

  7. Sally permalink

    Sorry, that should have been ‘stressful’, not ‘street up !’

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