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A Costly Day Out

September 8, 2015

Yesterday, I stumbled across the webpage for Hillingdon’s newish and one remaining day centre. There used to be five day centres. They closed and were replaced by Hubs. And then the Hubs faded away and were replaced by “non building based drop in facilities”. This is social care speak for a silent two hours in Costa’s. The new day centre certainly looks good. Hydrotherapy pool, a sensory ” snoozelum”, art room etc etc. Day centres aren’t really Steven’s thing but I clicked on the link “how to access the Centre”. The inevitable needs assessment. And then the cost…

£85 a day.

That seemed incredibly expensive to me. But what do I know. Social care is predominantly about market forces, so that may be the going rate. A Facebook friend told me that in her area the charge is £90 per day if you bring your own support, rising to £110 per day if you need support from the Centre staff.

Then a friend on Twitter told me that in her area, people are charged £90 per day for working in the garden centre. It seems the LA can get away with that by calling the activity ” training” instead of work. And you can be in training for years.

I thought about what Steven might call a perfect day out. It would start with an all day wristband at a theme park (£25). A buffet lunch at Pizza Hut (£10). A post lunch swim at the local pool (£3). Perhaps catch a film at the cinema (£10). And then stop off at HMV on the way home to buy the latest Tremeloes CD (£5.99). He’d still have change from his £85 to go to an evening concert to see an Abba tribute band.

We hear a lot about the financial abuse of vulnerable people. It is nearly always about family members ripping them off. My anxiety levels are sky high every time I complete the OPG audit or the monthly personal budget return in case something I have got Steven is deemed as abuse.

But as Sara Ryan often points out, the spotlight on the family is always about suspicions, whereas the State, just because it’s the State, is above suspicion. Families are erratic and not to be trusted, whilst the State is the pillar of integrity. It’s absolute bollocks of course, but there is a deep investment in maintaining this nonsense polarity.

I think charging £85 per day for a state run facility is financial abuse. I think charging someone £90 per day, for years, for training at a garden centre is a safeguarding issue.

I also think that if I said that out loud, I’d just be laughed at.


From → Social Care

  1. waery mother permalink

    Libraries ‘free to the general community’ (through public taxes).
    Pavements fixed ”
    Rubbish collected ”
    Museum ”
    Schools and college ”
    Bus pass for oldies

    etc etc ”

    Wonder what the response of general community might be if local community charges were increased by £400 a month for above services?

    ‘Mmmm? ‘ “

  2. I just looked up a spa day on group-on and it was £39 including 2 treatments and coffee and cake!! – normally £76. So yes – doesn’t seem like a market price without staff.

  3. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Actually Mark the LA’s are exploiting the desperation of the carers. Carers who are desperate for respite. Carers who have over the last ten years since the collapse of meaningful day services. Carers who are now at the mercy of market forces. Money, big money is now what matters most. What a sad sad world we live in.

  4. I recently enquired about after school clubs for my disabled 6 year old who has Rett Syndrome. £51 a session which runs from 1600-1830. No surprise that I can’t go back to work……

  5. LA services & staff (however reluctant or unhappy about it) now forced to work as businesses & if possible make a profit. Whoever imagined this could possibly work to improve services for the ordinary council tax payer and service needer?

  6. I agree with you Mark. We are scrutinized and audited for every pound. Families I know are having their measly 6 hours a week reduced as they are not showing enough “evidence” of how the money is being spent or their young people are not achieving the “outcomes” agreed. How is that they large providers are able to spend vast amounts of money without being questioned? Block contracts. How is it that they pay their staff minimum wage and yet aren’t checked where the rest of the money is going? The families or disabled person rarely know how much their package is worth whilst the rest of us know and account for every penny of the Direct Payments and where it is spent.

  7. Vicki Raphael permalink

    No ..say it loud,very loud . You are completely, totally right. These chareges are expoitative and abusive. There is no hint of personalisation either.

  8. Sally permalink

    I honestly don’t understand the prices.
    . A layperson would think: “Well, these are people who may need a lot of specialised help to enjoy activities ,and need these activities to be really carefully planned out and perhaps modified so they can be enjoyed by all. That must cost more than, say a mainstream young person’s activities. No need to protest”
    Only what is on offer is ridiculously expensive and seldom justifies the huge price.
    And speaking of the huge price-we are lucky enough to live in a country with free healthcare. Why then do disabled people have to pay for their own care? Learning disabled people can seldom earn enough to support themselves. So they are paid by the government with one hand and fleeced by the Government with the other.
    Mark is right that what is on offer is just not subject to any scrutiny. Nobody in the local authority is grilling the day centre providers right now, taking them over that bill penny by penny. Giving the service to an outside agency means another layer of costs which means the disabled person pays more and gets less.
    I feel bitter about all this. Tomorrow I am to go in to yet another meeting to ask that the DPs be reinstated . They were stopped because I mentioned in a call, sorry, “admitted” that the Befriender had picked my son up from an activity and taken him to the playground. Picking up is a “universal childcare need “and DPs are not to be used for this. This will be the third meeting this year about DPs . Is there any law about unreasonable questioning?

  9. Heather permalink

    Mark i agree with the vast majority of your postings, however the one thing you didn’t factor into costing a good day for Stephen was his support staff’s wages. Having managed a vol org day service the cost for a day covers a whole host of things, mainly staff salaries, training, non contact time for things like supervision, appraisals, you then have utility costs, building maintenance etc. While the day may see expensive a whole load of costs are outwith our control.
    Keep up the good work in questioning why in social care do the things they do, and why

    • Heather – the support workers’ wages are covered by the personal budget, so I didn’t need to include them in the £85. Steven doesn’t get anything in his PB for the cost of activities, so everything he does and everywhere he goes to he pays for himself. I don’t have a problem with that. I just cannot see how the people that the day centre is intended for can possibly pay those rates out of their benefits. In Hillingdon, before they closed all the centres down and before care charges were introduced, people used to go to the day centres 3 or 4 times a week. They could never afford to do that now. Steven’s membership to his health club is £65 per month but for that he gets 9 swims and 4 gym sessions. The Mencap run pool is £2 per session and the Arts Centre he goes to on Mondays is a room hire rate at £10 for the morning.

  10. Utterly appalling costs. These services should be free and provided by the local authorities.

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