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The Maths Exam

August 26, 2017

Yesterday, I saw an advert announcing a joint venture between Stay Up Late and Mencap to promote Gig Buddies. This timely announcement throws the spotlight once again on the lives lived by learning disabled people after 6pm.

For any mathematical experts out there, I’ve set a little exam that tackles probability theory at evening times in supported living environments.

You have 10 minutes to complete the test.

Your time starts.



On Monday, three new residents, Bjorn, Benny and Sven will be moving into their own studio flats in part of a supported living unit. Their arrival takes the total number of residents to 7.

Bjorn & Benny are assessed as needing 2:1 support when they go out. Sven needs 1:1 support.

The LA’s procedure is to pool all the personal budgets of each residents.

The staff rotas in the unit are:

Weekdays (9am to 9pm) 3 staff for 7 residents.

Weekends (9am to 9pm) 2 staff for 7 residents.

Night Shifts (9pm to 9am) 1 waking staff & 1 sleep in staff.

For the past 15 years, Benny has followed his local non league football team and hasn’t missed a home game in that time. The club play their home matches on Saturday afternoons and Tuesday evenings.

Bjorn plays for his pub’s darts team. They meet up to practice on Tuesday evenings and play in a local league on Thursday evenings.

Sven has a girlfriend. They like to meet up twice a week. On Mondays they go to bingo and after, Sven sleeps over at his girlfriend’s house. On Thursdays they go to the cinema. Sven would like to invite his girlfriend to sleep over at his flat after the movie.


1. Will Bjorn, Benny and Sven be able to continue their favoured evening activities?

2. Explain how this will be facilitated.

3. How often will they be able to partake in their favourite activities?



From → Uncategorized

  1. I don’t know what to say, except … it ain’t gonna happen, is it? 😦
    I enjoy your writing and appreciate your blog, Mark and thank you for educating me. I have no direct experience of learning disability but I continue to want to learn and develop my understanding. I think we could all benefit from learning more about the experiences of others outside of our direct experience but then I’d like to see less ‘it doesn’t affect me, why should I care’ sort of attitudes … arrgh! Don’t let get me started or I’ll be here all day 🙂 .
    I do enjoy hearing about Steven and learning about his life. I read the majority of your posts but rarely comment as I’m often lost for words. It is so dispiriting and often enraging to see how the system too often fails to enrich lives like Steven’s and instead curtails or cripples them.
    I have my own experiences of the NHS – particularly mental health and how it is failing so many. Chronic underfunding is a huge problem but I’m increasingly encountering, both directly and indirectly, worrying attitudes among staff where it seems the fundamental problem appears to be a lack of understamding of and, more so, a lack of respect for the people they are tasked with supporting.
    I’ve also been introduced to the social care system, 18 months ago, and I’m still battling my way through the system and trying to obtain some necessary support for myself. As a result of all this; I think I do have some idea of what you have to manage.
    I’m struggling rather too much myself just now and too bogged down with trying to make it out of battles with the system, alive, to really get stuck into activism, as I’d like, and I’m sorry for that, but I do appreciate your blog and what it has taught me.
    Best wishes to you and Steven, and also to his support workers who really do seem like a caring and capable crew.
    Sorry for the ramble!

  2. Jayne knight permalink

    As I heard said we would all like to go out wouldn’t we but that’s not always practical and all of us have to make allowances for others in our lives
    So Mark just think you are asking a very unreasonable question
    Oh added when a request for a salt spa of £15 4 times a year to soothe unbelievable itching from skin cancer, head of service says ‘ we’d all like a pamper wouldn’t we’

  3. Diana Macbeth-Case permalink

    Well, I want to say ha ha, but it isn’t funny because the answer is no one is going to go anyway anymore which makes me both sad and angry.

    If people need 2-1 support to access the community and care is diluted while within the home situation to a shared situation then how does it become undiluted to go out? Therefore the simple answer is for 7 people living in shared accommodation and so that everyone can go out once in a while, more staff are needed. Very simple in a world were we can see savings being made on every level with no regard to how this all effects anybody.

    • Well, it isn’t savings as much as not providing what the support plans say. So, it’s deception and failure to recruit what is paid for.

  4. Mark, on the ‘A’ level paper, there’s the same question but you also have to factor in that the local authority operates a cap on the hourly rate.

  5. weary mother permalink

    Not going to happen.

    There is a separate issue interwoven into this:

    Many people with learning disability still live at home with mum and dad.. Their parents form the core of family/people who go to Service re-organisation ‘consultations’. Many other parents cannot travel to ‘consultation’ meetings. And when essential care is withdrawn again, they just get on with things…however hard they are. They feel they have no choice.

    Others may have less need of support at the time, and sons and daughters live full and happy lives at home; I have heard them challenge parents who are very reasonably concerned about cuts.

    Some people live in supported living…and have no family…and the ‘still live at home’ group of parents have no experience of..what lies ahead.

    My sons LA … ‘cleared out’ (I heard it called by a member of staff ) – most people from their day centres, and slashed support to the marrow/ well below dangerous levels, to those in independent living. They did this in very quick and very dirty assessments 5 years ago. This was achieved with no advocates , self or otherwise – for those without family or family capable of intervening, using locums hired in specially for this sleazy job,

    The LA is now undertaking another set of expensive cross county consultations – once again using all the flowery empty – choice and innovation words – that they used last time. With ‘ hub’ – and the benefits of etc…figuring repeatedly in the text.

    A current hub in my sons locality is the local park.

    I received the notes on these initial consultation meetings today. and. read that .’some parents are fully in agreement with etc”’….

    If these parents knew what was going to befall their sons and daughters, when they leave home and all the relationships and the activities they currently enjoy, post the imposition of the new set of ‘choices’..

    they would not be so easily conned..

    • weary mother permalink

      PS. have just read two excellent blogs recently, written by a first class social worker.

      One blog concentrates on the ongoing need to humanise and personalise social care behaviour and language

      I forwarded both blogs to a close friend who trained as SW at same time as me, yonks and yonks ago. He/she retired recently as CE of a large Unitary LA.

      She/he said ‘my god..are they still recruiting people who can’t see or treat people as human beings”

      I think of the warm, competent people – not professionally trained..and no ‘ologies..that I have met over the years, who would read the advice in the blog as just common sense. ”As you would”,

      People who made my son’s face light up when the arrived..made him laugh, never shut him out with daft jargon..listened to his favourite stories – however long it took him to tell them. And put him straight when he was going adrift in any way that would make people think less of him.

      Who cared to know his life and hear his needs and fears …and his mum and dad.. and came in early and popped in late… if they were concerned…. to see him OK .

      Did did not talk down to him…never ever talked ”silly talk”. (acknowledgements to Steven Neary et al.)

      Where does SW selection, education and conditioning – still get it so very wrong, that experienced workers still need advice on how to see and treat human beings …as such ? ?.

  6. Pauline Thomas permalink

    So true Weary Mother.

    My son is still at home, but I have no illusions as to what is waiting round the corner when my husband and I can no longer cope. It is the stuff of nightmares. He will never be anyone’s ‘first priority’. My family, and most certainly yours Weary Mother, are our first priority and the same with countless other families too. Consequently care staff with families surely put their close relatives first too. That is human nature.

    My son is not intellectually or physically equipped to live his life independently and will always have to rely on the goodwill of people being paid to care for him. I do not expect my son to be any paid carers ‘first priority’ but I would certainly expect and hope that he would not be anyone’s ‘whipping boy’ either.

  7. lisa permalink

    Yes, same here Pauline. Im just hoping to live forever .

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