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The Probation Officer

May 14, 2017

Blimey. On the same day that I wrote a post about the arrogance of Hillingdon’s press release when we were in court, Steven received a letter from the Housing Manager. This is what it says:

“Dear Mr Neary

I am writing to advise you that I will be calling to see you at home on 25th between 9am and 12pm.

The purpose of the visit is to advise you whether or not I am satisfied that you are conducting your Probationary Tenancy in a satisfactory manner. The outcome of this visit is to determine if your tenancy should progress to a 5 year Flexible Secure tenancy”.

That’s it.

I know I’m very sensitive in these matters but the letter strikes me as oozing with power.

No checking out whether the 25th is convenient.

No thought as to whether a learning disabled person would understand the content. What is a Flexible Secure tenancy? Sounds a bit contradictory to me.

Steven’s future accommodation rests on her satisfaction alone.

What will satisfy her? What might dissatisfy her?

I saw a report of an inspection visit to a learning disabled person’s home the other day and it had the killer observation: “Not a lot of uncleanliness”. I worry that that is the sort of frame the Housing Manager may be looking through.

So, 11 days of worry before the big inspection. Nothing to ward off that worry besides lots of hoovering and dusting.

And the hope that the complaint from the neighbour before Christmas has died down.

We’ve never met the Housing Manager. Twice since Steven moved in, she has arranged appointments but not turned up.

I’m assuming she knew the state the place was in when we got the keys. I’m hoping she is satisfied by the improvements we have made.






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  1. They rented it to Stephen in that shockng condition and are now coming round to see if he’s a suitable tenant…what a nerve…

  2. Fiona permalink

    They seem to have completely lost sight of the fact that they are public servants and that Stephen’s interests are their raison d’etre.

  3. simone aspis permalink

    good to sill be reading your posts Mark – I thought you were taking time out for a little while! I see the Conservative Party are looking to revamp the Mental Health Act – depends if u a re synic – they say because too many people have been inappropriately sectioned and detained in hospital – but this could be another cut in disguise. I am sure you will have something to say about that one!

  4. simone aspis permalink

    Yeah – seems like the good old fashion tenancy for life has gone – one that I have enjoyed – good job they are not coming to visit my place for tidyiness – I would have failed on that one! What would they think with the various posters and campaigns colleges that I have developed over the years that hang on the wall and the various placards I have done for marches and garloo – would I be seen as a fit tenant – oh I have also written publicly about Family Mosiac’s shared ownership con scheme as well…… Thanks goodness I am not subjected to that sort of crap. I am fearful of what housing and conditions they will impose upon disabled people with LDs.. Telling someone with autism that they may be kicked out of their own home surely is enough to create a breakdown – makes me angry – u bet – – no longer do we have public servants

  5. simone aspis permalink

    anyone got experience of DOLS advocacy work – sounds interesting getting to work with individuals whilst having the opp to challenge DOLs and even have the chance to advance the law by sending them back to Court of Protection. I had found memories of doing the same when working with families challenging LA’s decisions when they refuse to support disabled child’s access to mainstream education – one of the cases I worked on went to the Court of APpeal -and it it was on the law around presumption of mainstream education. Anyone can tell me about the DOLs advocacy work etc –

    • shirley buckley permalink

      My son has a DOLS relevant person’s representative, who believes she is an advocate, although an RPR is there to challenge the DOLS. An RPR has freedom to do anything they want, as the person they are representing “lacks capacity” and cannot argue with the RPR. Also it is on legal aid, so no one can say “I am paying you for this, so do your job properly” This is the polite version. The other version is ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      • simone aspis permalink

        Shirley before I embark of anything after completing my MPHIL thesis I want the other version – please do email that version to me via I am completley ignorant – If it looks like I am going to sell out on my principles that no one should have “suffer” from deprivation of liberty regardless of ability or capacity then I much want to know now! Please send the other version to ,e. I am unsure the difference between an MCA advocate and a RPR – let’s have this chat via my email or facebook accounts…

      • I was Steven’s RPR. That role just applies when the person is under a DoLS. An MCA advocate has a broader role. For example, Steven’s support workers have all been trained in the MCA (by me) and I consider all of them to be his advocates.

    • shirley buckley permalink

      Will e mail you tomorrow I am “the expert” Forget principles – they belong to another world

      • simone aspis permalink

        thanks Shirley – I noticed that Mark’s video was on Powher’s website.

    • Simone, look for advocacy agencies that provide IMCAs; they will probably take RPR cases also for people where family are not able to do so. I am working as an advocate atm and I do some RPR work. I think the main thing that helps is if you have experience of having family in residential homes, because you need to be able to go in regularly and get to know the person but also keep an eye on how things are going with the care and be able to challenge appropriately when needed – even one soft spoken RPR saying to an assistant manager ‘could you ask staff to ask this person if he wants to come downstairs every day and get them to record it’ can make a huge difference to someone ‘s life. (That’s a real experience: the next time I visited the guy was downstairs in his wheelchair and was obv so much more energised).

      And ofc you need to understand how DoLS works and any specific conditions, but you’d get training in that.

      Good luck

      • simone aspis permalink

        Thanks Jo, its good to have from your experience – I am starting to get that experience with a friend who I am advocating for – under a Mental Health Act section. Learning loads and yes I hear you loud and clear about regular visits. Which means that I should aim to do something locally. Where I live in Brent Powher seems to operate a local service – I think I would like to start off as a volunteer – to test the waters – I am interested in hearing others comments – I know Shirley is emailing me privately.

    • shirley buckley permalink

      sorry cant get through to your e mail address

  6. simone aspis permalink

    Mark I forgot to add there is no such thing as a secure tenancy an longer – assured tenancies (whilst they are tenancies for life) have come in from late 1980s –

    • shirley buckley permalink

      Simone- its my e mail,not yours Im afraid. Anyway what I am writing now is in the public domain..The Mental Capacity Act DOLS is not fit for purpose. The Law Commission’s recommendations have not yet been accepted by the Government, and anyway these recommendations still do not allow the incapacitated person (who the RPR represents) the full legal rights to participate. As a RPR you would be involved in a legal battle far beyond your experience. Read Finola Moss’s blogs. Note: all Steven’s advocates have been trained ny Mark himself

  7. I know you are not going to kick the hornet’s nest and I’m not suggesting that you do, but I find it gratifying to imagine you writing back to her and informing her that you are not satisfied that her employer, through her, has carried out its duties as a landlord (in particular the duty to reinstate internal decor after necessary repairs) in a satisfactory manner; nor are you satisfied that she is carrying out her Equality Act duties of Reasonable Adjustment in a satisfactory manner. And asking her what she conceives her Equality Act duties towards Steven to be and how she proposes to fulfil them. Would love to be a fly on the wall as she tailspins over that one!

  8. think I am right in saying a lifetime secure tenancy could be granted to Steven in time. Following on from the flexible term ( which is a fixed term of 2 or 5 years ) Noise/perceived anti-social behaviour complaints are going to monitored , very much doubt any attention will be paid to housekeeping standards.

    It shouldn’t be that a new toilet seat and generous dabs of filler equals ‘lettable ‘ standard but it does. Hope Steven is offered five years , nothing he can do though to influence the decision at all . He can invite them in to see his home , offer them hospitality if he feels like it , express his gratitude for a roof over his head ? Smile. As ever appearing suitably grateful and feeling fearful simultaneously is bloody exhausting. Cup of tea as soon as they are out of the door.

    • Kara permalink

      With a large dollop of something medicinal in it.

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