Yesterday I had my latest carers assessment. I’m not sure why I’m bothering to write this post. I might as well copy and paste the post I wrote about the 2015 Carers assessment. Or the one in 2014. Or any of the six that I have had prior to yesterday’s non event.
Even though I know the form. Even though I know that an LA has a statutory duty to carry out a carers assessment but no duty to meet the needs that assessment throws up, I cannot help but feel a bit hopeful. The hope is nothing concrete. It’s not focused on any particular outcome. Perhaps it’s just a hope of being listened to. Can you imagine in any other profession having a duty to assess someone but no duty to act on that assessment? (Doctor to patient – “I’m afraid you’ve broken both your legs Sir. I have no duty to treat those breaks but I’ve carried out my duty to assess you. Right, hop off home now”).
Although my carers assessments normally take about two hours, the scope of them is incredibly limited. The sole focus is on my physical and mental health and what I’m like at money management. That’s it. It ignores the big things like: I can’t have a relationship (I’m not sure I’m looking for one but the possibility would be nice). I can’t work full time. I can’t undergo a fitness programme of any real significance. I can’t be spontaneous (“Hi mate. I’ve got a day off. Do you fancy a boozy lunch?” “Can’t mate. But we can plan one for two weeks time, on a Monday”). I often have to miss meals. I can’t have a bath for longer than ten minutes. None of that stuff is even on the radar of the carers assessment.
Instead, we have the usual embarrassing conversation about counselling – “If you ever feel the need to talk to someone about your stresses, I’ve got the number of a local counselling service”. “Erm – that’s the one that I worked for, for thirteen years”. Or, “If you need any help with budgeting your finances, I can refer you to the local disability charity”. Thankfully, this year, we didn’t have the toe curling questions about my sex life – “Are you satisfied in that area of your life Mr Neary?” “Yes thank you. I have my Blondie DVD and a box of Kleenex”. (Obviously, I didn’t say that but I wish I had the balls to).
At some point, I switched off and started to wonder about the job satisfaction of the assessor. This must be all she does all week. Two hours to fill out a 30 odd page form. And then file it away somewhere. I remember the research I did for the Carers Solidarity group back in 2011. I did FOI requests to all LAs, asking about the number of the assessments they carried out and what the outcomes were. In my area, in 2010/11, Hillingdon carried out 1236 assessments. 8 of them produced practical outcomes for the carer. 1228 people spent two hours for nothing. Mind, Hillingdon did better than Bexley. They carried out 1170 assessments and had 0 practical outcomes.
I think it’s got worse since then. Those lucky 8 Hillingdon residents got a direct payment to go towards something or other. Five years on, they probably wouldn’t get that gift. But even if they did, thanks to the Fairer Charging Policy, they would have to pay for it. I might be awarded a therapeutic pampering day but I would have to make a contribution to the charge. My wallet would get as big a pampering as I would.
I don’t really want pampering. The cruel thing about a carers assessment is that by it’s very nature it sets you up to be hopeful. You can’t help not be, even though you know the outcome in advance. Yesterday, I felt hopeful – Today I feel like shit.
In woke up this morning feeling cross with myself. Cross that I had conjured up an illusory expectation. Ermintrude said to me on Twitter that it would be better to frame them not as an assessment but as a chat or a catch up. I agree. Then my total expectation would be about being listened to for a while.
Perhaps that’s just pampering.
From → Social Care