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March 29, 2017

Another day. Another Twitter debate about why thousands of people are trapped in ATUs. Another debate where professionals who should know better pull out their trump card – “Lack of local expertise and skills” to shut down the real truth – lack of will and vested interests – being exposed.

I’m too fed up with that tired, offensive excuse being trotted out with depressing regularity. The implication stinks – the person is too complicated and challenging to be living in their own home and an institution is the best place for them. Engaging in that conversation perpetuates the fantasy, so let’s stop doing it.

Instead, let me tell you a few things that have happened in Cowley over the past fortnight and the input of Steven’s “unskilled, inexpert support team”.

1. Brought and fitted new living room curtains after a meltdown led to the slat blinds lying in a crumpled heap on the floor.

2. Taught Steven what the African lyrics in Going Back To My Roots mean.

3. Sat for an hour on Steven’s bed, reassuring him when he was upset and anxious about my late return from Scunthorpe.

4. Extended a shift by 45 minutes (unpaid) to go to the shop to buy some Crumbled ham.

5. Upon delivery of his new CD, learned and discussed the difference between Laurence Fox and Mr James Hathaway.

6. Took a pair of pyjamas with a hole in the crutch, home to repair.

7. Noticed the small sweet shop was busy and waited outside singing Shania Twain songs until the shop cleared.

8. Discovered a TV channel that plays 1980s music videos 24/7.

9. Mowed the back lawn.

10. Rearranged Steven’s schedule when they realised Take That were appearing on the Ant & Dec show.

That’s the sort of skilled expertise that’s developed when you have human beings interested in each other.


From → Social Care

  1. Brilliant! 😀

  2. Pauline Thomas permalink

    It is absolutely wonderful to see how much weight Steven has lost. He looks wonderful. What an achievement. Living proof, if needed, that antipsychotics can sometimes do more harm than good. Well done you Mark for sticking to your guns. Shame on the professionals that were criticizing you for over feeding Steven. Have they apologized yet? Is the Pope a Catholic?

  3. Sally permalink

    How happy you and Steven look. You are right. It takes a genuine warm interest in the person being looked after over and above any other sorts of help.

  4. swanarchie07 permalink

    Wow so lovely to watch, and how amazing Steven looks with his weight loss and you too

  5. Yours are good people who came without skills, but are willing to learn, wouldn’t you say, Mark.. It looks like that.
    I’ve unskilled carers who are not like yours, though a few can be useful.

    Also, the most ‘skilled’ such as previous psychiatrists, couldn’t engage with my son or me, so I’m not sure what skills they had. Some were better, but most people take money for just words, doing nothing, no healing.
    The biggest thing we could ever have is empathy, and it comes without training.

  6. weary mother permalink


    So true..knowledge and skills alone are not enough?

    Gazillions of pounds are spent by Public Sector on sheep dip training and on expensive conferences. New (‘ish) knowledge can change a belief for a short time and at a level, but this change can be washed out immediately by contrary information.

    That ingrained attitudes and values are largely untouched by not new learning.

    People with little innate creative ability for example…can be trained up, but only up to a point.

    Thing is, although there is bucketfuls of evidence of the wisdom to recruit first for (largely innate) values and attitudes and abilities such as creativity, and analytic and conceptual thinking etc…only, then train in the easy bits, knowledge and skills – post appointment.

    This learning is still resisted by professions who insist on setting their own criteria for recruitment and assessment. And it is largely the reason that supposedly competent on recruitment people. are subsequently increasingly trained in knowledge and skills they claim on appointment. And are repeatedly dipped in a knowledge skills training puddle by their peers…and (lucrative for consultants) fun group games with same, with little return in quality, caring ….or competence …..

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