The Max Wall Effect
I’ve been in a very sad Facebook conversation since yesterday. Eden Evans has been in an ATU for the past six years. Every fortnight, his mum Debs sets out on the 320 mile round trip to visit Eden. She is accompanied by Eden’s beloved but elderly dog. Every now and then, Debs will post a heartbreaking photo of herself and the dog sitting on the train station before setting off on a four and a half hour journey. Yesterday, Debs posted that she was in tears on her journey back home. She was upset to find that Eden “was not clean”. It seems that nobody is attending to his personal care. Despite the huge sums the Unit gets paid for providing Eden’s care, this basic and respectful aspect of his care is not happening.
Debs’ post prompted Lynne to join in the conversation. Lynne is the mother of Chris (“The Boy in the Blue Room”) who has been in an ATU for roughly the same length of time. Here is Chris’s story – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/locking-autistic-man-in-padded-room-ruled-illegal-2298553.html Chris is now in another ATU. Lynne commented that when she visits Chris, his clothes are either shrunk or creased or both. Staff at the Unit told her that they don’t have an iron. When Lynne offered to iron Chris’s clothes, she was prevented from doing this.
I find this aspect of “care” so distressing. When Steven was in the ATU, his clothes were regularly shrunk, damaged or lost. He would arrive for a home visit in a top that had been shrunk to about three sizes too small. Sometimes he would turn up in someone else’s top. His tracksuit bottoms would be falling down because the elastic had been removed. The laces were missing from his trainers. The socks he was wearing (not his) would be full of holes. I would be upset and frightened. Frightened because I imagined Steven encountering somebody when he was out and about who might see the way Steven was dressed as good sport and start mocking him. That would lead to Steven reacting and then Steven would be blamed. Plus of course, it was a terrible knock to his dignity.
When Steven came home with his belongings in a black bin bag (they lost his holdall), 50% of the clothes weren’t his. I sent them back. Of the other 50%, I threw them all away as they were either shrunk too small or ruined.
These things don’t seem to matter in institutional care. Why do they go in for those industrial sized washes where all the clothes are boiled to within an inch of their lives. Then they (the clothes) are finished off with two hours in an industrial tumble drier that are set at the sort of temperatures you would use when cooking a roast.
The other day I saw one of the residents from the time Steven was in the ATU. He is now in one of the LA’s supported living flats. He was out window shopping with a support worker. His tracksuit bottoms were up under his armpits and his t-shirt was about four sizes too small. A couple of teenage girls outside Burger King were creased up laughing at him.
I’m afraid we’re back to the “not quite human” syndrome again. There is nothing person centred in this nothing care. This is sneering, mocking centred care.
The above picture is of Max Wall. His variety act was built on his ill fitting clothes. To the best of my knowledge, Mr wall wasn’t a resident in an ATU or institution.
From → Social Care