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“Syb Ill. Bas Well. Man Well”

August 10, 2016

Yesterday Steven watched my favourite episode of Fawlty Towers. The Anniversary. The episode starts with a lie. Basil pretends to Sybil that he has forgotten their anniversary. When Sybil goes off in a huff and the guests start to arrive for the surprise party that Basil was covering up from Sybil, more lies are generated to cover up the fact that Sybil is absent. Polly is blackmailed into impersonating Sybil and the guests suffer various injuries as Basil’s sole preoccupation for the entire episode is to cover up his lies and save his own skin. Steven’s support worker isn’t too impressed with this episode. He thinks it is a bit “far fetched”.


But is it?

So much of the social care world is based on lies. The promotion of Choice when there isn’t any. The push for supported living as a beacon of independence when lots of them are just rebranded care homes. The idea that Personalisation puts someone in control of their life. The oft repeated assertion that “The service user is at the heart of everything we do”, when it is clear that money, systems, all sorts of things push the service user pretty low down in the pecking order of “everything”.

I’m just in the middle of collating the material for the next 7 Days of Action and the battles people face when their loved ones are in an ATU is one of the biggest lies of all. The lie that an ATU actually does the person any good. The entire ATU industry is based on the lie that the person needs to be there and that the experience will have a beneficial impact on the person’s life. Has anyone come out of an ATU better than when they went in? But still people are sent to their doom on the basis of a lie.


What people using services find the most difficult is the cover up, the denial of the lie. You become trapped in it and all your energy that is needed elsewhere is drained. I think that most families that are caught up in social care lies aren’t especially interested in exposing the lie. No, they just want a service for their loved one. Daily, on Twitter, I see families caught up in the many SEND lies being driven crazy because they can’t penetrate the lie being presented to them.

Steven’s year in an ATU was based on a lie. Most reports written about him during that time start with the sentence, “Steven is needing in patient services because his father is unable to care for him at home”. It took 18 months and a High Court hearing to get beyond that lie.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the alarming experience of being threatened with legal action for defamation of character. I had been involved in a Twitter conversation about a specialist autism school that had previously had a spit hood policy for students. The policy was there in black and white and we knew that it had been used at least once but the fall out was incredible. I was blocked by people connected to the school, they tried to attack a campaign I’m involved in and then came the threat of being sued. All to cover up a lie.

For three years, Justice For LB has doggedly shone a light on the terrible failings of Southern Health. Against the most insurmountable odds and the attempts of various bodies to shut them up. The lie is that Southern Health is a good, caring organisation whereas each successive story reveals a dangerous, self serving, image driven organisation. And its CEO is presented as an award winning, caring leader when the reality that grows daily is of someone for whom narcissism & greed long ago moved into the space where her soul and integrity should reside. I’m not sure it will ever end. Too much invested by too many people. Each horror story dwarfing the previous horror story makes little difference to a rotten at the core institution.


This week a story broke about another failed CQC inspection report. The overall rating was “Inadequate” and each of the six inspection criteria was rated inadequate. It couldn’t be any worse. The home for six autistic people was owned and run by the National Autistic Society. Like Mencap and their response to an awful CQC report before them, the NAS issued a press release that sought to distance itself from the people involved day to day in the running of the home. It expressed its shock about the abuse that had been taking place. But when you read page 15 of the CQC report, you discover that senior NAS management had carried out an investigation of the place two years earlier. And done nothing about their findings. Their public contrition is a lie.

Sadly, this could be one of the longest blog posts ever. Sadly, there are so many example of peoples’ lives being ruined because of one lie or another. Sadly, I’ll end at this point because it is too unbearable to write anymore.

The final scene of The Anniversary is the perfect allegory for the state of Social Care. The guests, with several injuries as a result of Basil’s cover ups have reassembled in the lobby prior to leaving. Suddenly, Sybil returns to collect her golf clubs. There is a face off in the foyer. Even then, even at that point when the evidence of all the guests’ eyes can see Sybil standing in front of them, Basil still has to keep the sham going and pretends that Sybil is “that woman in the town who looks a bit like Sybil” and has come to buy one of their fridges.

If you are a social care receiver of services, you are not even allowed to believe the evidence of your own eyes. You are not allowed to see Sybil, you will see who the provider of services wants you to see. Your own reality is skewered.

You end up being driven mad.



From → Social Care

  1. Joan permalink

    I think the constant fear of that any complaints or challenges will result with our loved ones being punished by funding being withdrawn makes the whole situation impossible.

  2. weary mother permalink

    I live the life you describe to the letter. It is as though everyday that I lie in the middle of the road watching the (nil) Social Care lorry about to run over my it does again and and again..and again….first having run over me..

    I wrote in Sara’s blog last night of how SW’s stand by and watch nothing happening. Just paid observers casually noting that its ‘Not great’.

    ‘Sorry for the delay’ should be carved on the front of County Hall.

    In truth the bottom line cost here will be my life quite soon. Who I am is gone. Heart is shot. Caused by unremitting stress. All joy is gone.fear is left and fatigue…. all access to the beauty and wonder of the world around us is gone..all is injustice and casual LA led – cruelty – and disrespect and as far as SW – it is – in our real life …all lies and delusion.

    • weary mother permalink

      Bless you ..all xx

    • Yes, SWs (many, not all) and their managers do drive trucks over families – because families monitor services.
      They don’t want to think or do any work themselves, and it may be easier to finish parents off so they stop seeing anything.
      But what about ideals, good practice and citizens charters? At some point the bubble will burst, because we weren’t designed to stop caring.

  3. Wearymother, you speak for so many others. You are in my thoughts and prayers. That’s sometimes all we can do for each other when going through such dreadful dark times. I wish we had a compassionate system of care that would protect us all from such despair

  4. Sally permalink

    Hold on, Weary Mother, please don’t give up .

  5. Shirley Buckley permalink

    We must change this. We, us,we must change it. We must “take arms against a sea of troubles” but how. ? How do we change it when our sons and daughters are held in captivity as pawns in this power game?

  6. Eve smith permalink

    Shirley Buckley..that’s all I hear…we must change this!! We are all trying desparately, running but not catching up..I thought it couldn’t get worse than an ATU but 2 months out and I again feeling the desperation and anxiety that I felt a year ago…nothing changes, just us getting older and more cynical and untrusting…I just hope my sons goes before me, can’t bare the thought of leaving him behind in this uncertain world of social care…

    • It’s a too common experience.
      Care services (most, not all) do the bare minimum of work which most of us don’t actually want to say, but we can see that they are committed really to paperwork and pay, and they watch the parents go mad trying to ask them to do their jobs.
      Only the parents really monitor anything, unless like me a few good professionals are there who give me morale support.
      The very well paid service costs under £6000 a week in our case – very very poor value for money – it is a misuse of public money.
      Parents write reports that they draw from, provide the clearest information possible to try and make it simpler for them, inform and train without pay – but are never or very rarely acknowledged.
      This will go on forever unless confronted – my GP’s advice was to confront the provider about basic care, never mind bespoke. If only my GP was on the MDT.
      We need advocates for ourselves, who were in plentiful supply 10 years ago.
      We must start our own advocacy services.

  7. Don’t forget that Basil gets violent with Sybil when she presents herself to the guests at the end — he frogmarches her into the kitchen, asking her “how is the north?” as he’d told his friends the woman who looked like Sybil was from the north, and then locked her in a fridge, then telling the guests she was thinking of buying one of their fridges. Good job the fire was in another episode.

    I’ve once before seen Roger from that episode cited as an example of the inappropriate behaviour typical of Asperger’s syndrome because of how his constant questioning makes Basil feel uncomfortable. My impression is that he doesn’t like Basil and has come only because his wife has dragged him along. He saw through the lie very quickly and it was he who insisted on going up to see “Sybil”. He clearly enjoyed Basil’s discomfort.

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