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42nd Street

June 21, 2016

“Steven will not be invited to view the property in Horseshoe Drive. Bidding closed yesterday and he came 42nd out of all the people who bid for the property”.

Four hours later, I’m on the floor.

42nd? I can’t even begin to describe the feelings that come with hearing that Steven only came 42nd. all I know is that it feels like all energy and heart has been drained from me at the moment. He’s disabled. He is homeless and has been living in temporary accommodation since November 2013. His house is due to be demolished in April 2017 to make way for a new development.

This afternoon, Steven’s advocate, the brilliant Jayne Knight and I met with his social worker. A housing officer was meant to attend as well but couldn’t make it. The meeting was arranged a couple of weeks ago, before the house in Horseshoe Drive came up. Jayne knows the form of these processes and the purpose of the meeting was to get answers, one way or another, to three questions. We have been asking these three questions for the past two months but nobody will answer them:

  1. Will Hillingdon tap into one of the many funding streams available that could help with securing a home to buy or a privately rented property?
  2. If we go ahead and buy Steven a house/flat, will Hillingdon cover the mortgage interest payments?
  3. If we go ahead and rent Steven a privately rented house/flat, will Hillingdon cover the rent via discretionary housing payments?

Jayne and I are prepared to do all the leg work and go and find and source a new home for Steven. But there’s no point in us doing that, if Hillingdon refuse to support the move. Today, with no housing person present, we still didn’t get answers to those questions. So, it’s one final letter to be sent off today asking the questions all over again, a seven day deadline for a reply and then a judicial review letter.

Hillingdon’s position is that they don’t have to do anything until November. Steven is unlikely to move up from 42nd position in that time. He might but he could as easily move down! In November, with the demolition six months away, they will reconsider his banding. Even then, it will still be down to me to bid for properties that may or may not appear on their bidding list. Bear in mind, the house in Horseshoe Drive was the first suitable property since February. I was told that I must continue bidding between now and November, to demonstrate Steven’s commitment to a move! I failed abysmally to describe what a depressing thought that is to the social worker. Having to check their Locata system every Thursday. Fighting a small glimmer of hope over the weekend. Then told on Monday that Steven won’t be selected because he’s slipped down the hit parade from 42nd to 44th.

Local Authorities excel at this sort of pointless endeavour. They love it. I’ve had a carers assessment every year since 2007 and even though each one takes 90 minutes, none of them have produced anything. I used to have to go to monthly meetings with the LA psychologist and the Positive Behaviour Support team to pour over logs of every aspect of Steven’s life. Nothing happened. I fill out endless monthly Personal Budget audit forms and send them off and never hear a dicky bird in return. Lots of pointless activity that leads to nothingness. I’ve now got at least six months of more of the same.

The social worker said at one point, “What you need is a bridge between Steven and Housing”. I replied, “Yes. You are that bridge”. But I’m a fool. Social Care don’t do that sort of work any more. Neither the Social Worker or the Housing Officers have the first idea of their statutory duties. Listening to Jayne reel off the Care Act, the Equalities Act and being met with total indifference was so dispiriting.

The social worker let slip that housing has something called “direct allocations” that bypass the bidding process. We may find ourselves in a direct allocation position come November. But scarily, I read Hillingdon’s policy on direct allocations and you only get offered one property. It could be anywhere. Take it or leave it.

I appealed to the social worker’s knowledge of Steven and to people with learning disabilities in general. When choosing a property, I have to consider how it will impact on the care plan and package. Is the property near the places that Steven goes to? If not, that has implications for the travel element of Steven’s Personal Budget. I have to consider the travelling of the support workers to and from work. We’ve had a very settled team for five years. I don’t want to jeopardise that by being forced to move somewhere that they can’t get to. There are hundreds of factors like this. This to me is the meat and potatoes of a social worker’s work but I know I’m ridiculously old fashioned. I don’t think it even registered. When someone keeps repeating, “I hear what you’re saying”, you know that they’re not hearing what you’re saying.

Jayne knows her stuff. I’m learning fast. We have a legal team on standby ready to do the business.

It shouldn’t be necessary.

 

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From → Social Care

17 Comments
  1. Pointless but time consuming and emotionally draining activity that leads to nothing just about sums up most contact with statutory bodies, along with rules designed to shake as many people out of the system as possible. If some of the pointless activity was redirected at actually providing a service there would be so much more to go round, but maybe that would impact on LA jobs as more money would go to ‘clients’, i.e. the people the services are supposed to support, and less on sustaining an unaccountable bureaucracy. There seems to be almost no mechanism to hold LAs to account.

    • I think a JR is the only mechanism we have left and the chances of getting one of those is miniscule.

  2. have a read through the housing policy – and ‘permanent decant’ status – think that may be a way forward?

    • I was interested in the section on “Extra Care”. Talks about properties allocated outside of the bidding scheme and agreed by joint panel of housing & social care. Why didn’t social worker mention that this afternoon?

      • Because it’s usually built specifically for older people. We have a hard time getting younger people with LD in there. https://www.independentage.org/information/advice-guides-factsheets-leaflets/extra-care-housing

      • Extracare is currently for older people, but we need those sort of builds for people with LD – as Supported Living is often totally isolating.
        Extracare is like Supported Living within a community, within the larger community.
        As long as families come and go and do some of the care as the person likes, it might be the best option.
        If there were smaller developments of about 8 flats, or larger developments with communal areas, restaurant, hairdresser, large garden, etc., it would give us choice and reduce isolation and breakdown of Supported Living.
        There are not just personal support staff on hand, but another layer of staff who are useful in emergencies, as I saw in several Extracare places I visited.

  3. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Your social worker sounds more like an LA gatekeeper than a person employed for the welfare of vulnerable people.

    My god the hoops families/carers have to jump through to secure an half decent life for their loved ones.

    The strain of keeping Steven happy. The strain of managing his support workers with all the paperwork involved. The strain of trying to grab some respite time for yourself. And now this.

    I would love to know how Hillingdon’s social care bosses and councillors would react if this was their experience of life.

    • Yes exactly our experience! We’ve now insisted on a qualified Social Worker rather than a so called ‘care manager’. We’re looking for some anti oppressiveness, anti discrimination, empowerment, partnership, advocacy, accountability & rights and responsibilities the ‘social care core values’ would you believe!!

    • weary mother permalink

      Pauline

      As was pointed out to me by one of a number of workers who refused entrance, to myself and my multi disabled son who with me was invited to attend a meeting at County Hall ,”this building is for people who work in it’..

      We families of learning disabled sons and daughters are clearly non – or a different species of, people ?

  4. the answer to your three questions must be no. Allocating outside of bidding when housing and social care are in agreement I have experienced once, the person received a phone call as soon as the list was received in the post and they pointed the property out to me. I felt they may have misunderstood and that they were just well placed ( they were priority A ) but they were informed the property was theirs from the opening of bidding and it was. They were only on the list for three months ( referral from adult social ) and initially a timeframe of 2-3 years for transfer was given. Kent.

  5. Jayne knight permalink

    Disappointing as what they have done is just put a finger in the air and decided that 6 months including lead up to Christmas, Christmas, New Year and all the down time in the housing market is the best time for them arbitrarily to take action. Why not plan carefully and professionally ackniwkedging the delays of getting phone calls, meetings etc that they are so good at! It’s taken two and a half months not to get a reply to the initial exploratory letter.
    Talking pantomime today this was the wishy washy one in Cinderella.
    Well we are not going away though but it really makes me feel so bad for people when the little glimmer of hope they had for something good happening just was taken away instantly. The shining star is Steven couldn’t want for a better advocate than his Dad
    We even went to have s look with a bit of hope!

  6. Shirley Buckley permalink

    Mark I wish I could write something positive but………judicial review miniscule is right. The LA and the Official solicitor had judicial reviews loaded up there waiting to get Martin. When I tried, as a really last resort, it was laughable, if it hadn,t been so sad. I would have paid the solicitor and barrister but the barrister just stated that there wasn’t a chance in hell. The LA will be only too happy to have a judicial review, they enjoy it, and they are not accountable. Who would pay your costs – legal aid?????? There is no mechanism to hold LAs to account – they are untouchable – and this is what we all have to fight to change. It is discrimination of the highest order. Find me the barrister

  7. you didn’t meet with a housing officer and you must, it is reasonable to have the banding reviewed now. Can you request that. It is possible for agreement to be made between agencies to ‘ allocate ‘ a property immediately it becomes available. It appears on the listing and you bid but in reality the process is bypassed ( you are informed before close of bidding ) Steven needs to be an A now. I have witnessed this process myself and the person had an offer within three months of their A priority. Speak to a housing officer and it would be reasonable for them to hold a statement from Steven so that he need not have his hopes repeatedly raised and dashed. Your GP and the housing officer are Steven’s allies besides yourself and his advocate, the social worker is not making representation drop them.

    • specifically ask for additional preference , they don’t have to consider the threat of homelessness in June but they can if they choose to.

  8. Sue permalink

    The social worker wont have a clue about housing as even if within same directorate operate as totally different domains. There is a ‘Working Together’ document re how LA’s should integrate assessments and a stat resp to do so but those I’ve seen often interpret this as a safeguarding response. The route is without a doubt direct allocations / direct offer where he is taken out of need to bid. Maybe pressure could be put using homelessness legislation as there is a requirement for LA to anticipate without waiting for eviction notice to be served. As you say the ‘bridge’ should be the social worker but sounds like she is out of her depth here and jumping to the housing depts. tune.

  9. simone permalink

    Mark it is worth going for a rebanding – I was in category B – and I knew I was in for a very long wait whilst in a room not much bigger than a bathroom where I had to live and work and entertain in shared accommodation. There was a good reason why I pushed myself into category A , thanks to a great Housing Advocate. Things moved very quickly thereafter – allocated a nice big flat in the area of my choice……. I turned down the first property as it was not in an area I wanted and from what I could remember it was a studio flat with shared bathroom and toilet – not what I wanted! Yes it would be worthwhile pushing for a Band A category – that does help you…..

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