The Summer House Scandal
For two days running, the BBC has run pieces about significant issues for people with disabilities. Yesterday, it published a horrid, sneering article about the “waste” of personal health budgets. It picked up on some “research” by Pulse, who by all accounts have always been very anti personal health budgets and applied absolutely no critical analysis to the figures it was reporting. The overall message of the article was that there are loads of people taking advantage of the personal health budget scheme and taking money away from more important health interventions. It didn’t exactly use the word but we were clearly back in “scrounger” territory.
One example they used and called it a “treat” was of a “summer house”. The article presented like some beneficent official from the CCG just handed over fistfuls of readies and the patient flew off immediately to Homebase for the latest garden accessory. Now, I’m willing to wager next month’s personal budget that the summer house was probably some sort of sensory facility. Let’s also assume that the recipient of the budget may have been someone with autism for whom sensory issues can be a major problem. Before the cash was paid out, a Panel of professionals, including health professionals, social workers, occupational therapists would have convened and made a decision on a particular piece of expenditure. Nothing random but all very tightly micro managed. By the way, I checked out the Homebase website and you can buy a summer house from anything from £160 to £500. That could be considered a reasonable bit of business if it keeps the person out of an ATU at £3500 per week. A sensible, long term plan and use of the public purse. I know that is guesswork but I think even my guesswork is more balanced than the BBC reporting.
Today’s article was about the huge number of people with learning disabilities prescribed powerful anti psychotic medication. From a study by the BMJ, the report threw up some alarming figures. It found that of 9135 people with learning disabilities who were on anti psychotics, 71% of those have never been diagnosed with a mental health problem. These drugs are being used as a cosh. Not just for behavioural problems but also to cover up insufficient staff numbers in care homes – sedate the resident because there aren’t enough staff to deal with them. The report also flagged up the awful side effects of this type of medication – weight gain being the most common. And we’re not talking about a few inconvenient pounds here. We’re looking at the sort of weight gain that causes life threatening conditions. I’ve written before that my biggest mistake ever was to agree with the doctor who prescribed Steven Rhisperidone seven years ago. In that time, his weight has doubled and it will kill him. Trying to wean him off the drugs has been an horrendous experience for him but so necessary for his current and future health.
Forgive me for this cackhanded attempt to link the two articles together but I find it interesting that the medical profession doesn’t bat an eyelid at the expenditure on these totally unnecessary drugs. I’ve no idea how much a year’s prescription of rhisperidone is but I bet it’s an obscene lot more than a summer house. We’re back to the medical model for people with learning disabilities again. It’s fine for people to be drugged into nothingness. It’s fine for people to be “treated” in expensive assessment and treatment units. But see the person as a human being and try and come up with human responses to their troubles and you’re sneered at and judged.
One thing that both BBC articles does is to present the people at the heart of their stories as an alien species. The “normal” BBC viewer or reader couldn’t possibly understand what these beings are like. They aren’t like us. They’re not human as we know it. And that gives them carte blanche for the type of othering they’ve indulged in for the past two days. Migrants. People on welfare. Now we can add people with summer house treats to that list.
The Government must be absolutely delighted.
From → Social Care