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Wanking

April 18, 2018

Yesterday was the first day of the two week inquest into the death of Danny Tozer in 2015 in a Mencap supported living home (although going from the evidence so far it looks like another rebranded care home designed to save on care costs by claiming housing benefit).

I went to bed in a rage and woke up this morning in the same state. There is much to rage about. The inquest was only on the first morning yet Mencap’s barrister started dishing out the parent blame during the evidence of both Rosie and Tim Tozer. It is to be expected but it is harrowing to witness. The afternoon session consisted of the evidence of two social care managers from York council and their apathy left one’s heart in one’s boots.

What has really got to me though is the way the Mencap barrister has made such a big deal about Danny’s “private time”. Like a dog with a bone he has questioned all four witnesses about private time. I still don’t understand his agenda. Are Mencap really using a resident masturbating as a get out clause for their appalling care?

Private time is social care speak for masturbation. Some commentators have said that it’s an embarrassed euphemism. I don’t agree. To me, it’s another thoughtless euphemism that’s designed to dehumanise the person. A language that only applies to “them” because “they” are not like us. It’s from the dictionary of phrases like: placement (home), community activity (swimming), personal care (having a shower). A Twitter friend taught me a new one today – self travelled. It means going by bus.

Sex is very problematic for social care practitioners. It’s likely to be filed under the heading “challenging behaviour”. Or worse, and I have seen this often, “inappropriate behaviour”. Having a wank needs to be managed. It needs to be discussed at the multi disciplinary meeting. It needs risk management plans drawn up. Even when someone is living in their own home. On paper, Danny was living in his own home but the needs of other residents had to be factored into his private time plan.

It felt uncomfortable discussing this on social media. But I had to keep reminding myself that it’s not Danny’s sex life being discussed. It’s the complete failure of social care to recognise wanking as a normal activity. It’s also about the shameful tactics of the “voice of learning disability’s” barrister to weaponise this normal act to attack the family and to paint a picture of Danny as problematic.

One is left with the feeling that the State (and I include Mencap in that) has no idea in how people live their normal lives. Learning disabled people are there to be patronised (“Ah. Bless”). To give the State it’s sense of importance and to give the impression that it is offering something of value, the dehumanising of learning disabled people becomes collateral damage. And in case I’m accused of over reacting, language like “private time” is the drip drip drip of the dehumanising process.

I’ve tried to imagine what Steven would make of the concept of private time. Rather in the direct way he dealt with the social worker’s enquiry into whether he’d been out on his community programme, I imagine the conversation going like this:

“Hello Steven. Have you been engaged in private time today?”

“No. I’ve been wadgering. Now I’m going to have a Whispa”.

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11 Comments
  1. Yes anything to do with S.E.X. is viewed with suspicion & acute discomfort. It used to occur in school from time to time with children from troubled situations, particularly during story time, but I can always remember a lovely teacher commenting “Poor bairns, they deserve a little comfort with the lives they lead”

  2. I think ‘PRIVATE TIME’ will soon need a DOL no pun intended. Hope he has a jury as he has, in contrast to if he died today, a right to an enhanced inquest.

    • Unfortunately Mencap argued against having a jury and won so the final judgment will just be down to the coroner.

      • So the voice of disability argued successfully to remove a disabled’s most important right that to enquiry by his peers, not the state, into his death- says a lot but predictable.

  3. Magi permalink

    Mark, I’m always referred to by my son’s ‘professionals’ as a very private person. Does that mean they think I’m a ……. 😉

  4. It is so wearying – what’s happened to ordinary language? We don’t need some kind of odd jargon to describe the range of human behaviour we all do. Years ago there was a lovely poem which came to me via Values Into Action (long gone except in Scotland) which was contrasting words being used to describe lives of people with learning disabilities and words used by non-disabled people about these same bits of their lives… I wish I could find it as it was really good and we used to use it in support staff induction training to get the point over. What exactly are we communicating by the use of different words and they so matter to people’s perceptions as well as to the people themselves…I’d hope people would have some privacy anyway… not just to wank or even make love to their lover…..assistive technology should be designed for the person to enable this as well as safeguard them. I wonder how we’d all feel to have our most intimate lives so intruded upon, although I heard today of old people’s homes that seem to forbid making love!! (If I have the license for my room surely this can’t be legal?) So we should all watch out if we ever let ourselves end up there… Given the MCA appears to also say we have to have capacity, though I thought they should presume capacity. If we develop dementia imagine being prevented from making love to your partner…. so what if I think it’s the gardener!!

  5. The State and Mencap do know how normal people live their lives. It’s just them being superior, when they’re not. Just ordinary people too trying to seem extraordinary.

  6. simone permalink

    Another piece of jargon for ordinary activity self-advocacy rather than speaking up, being assertive, assertive for you rights etc. Never understood why self-advocacy – its just speaking up for oneself with or without assistance from an advocate, lawyer, friend, family member etc etc

  7. kate permalink

    Well, thank you for overcoming the discomfort of discussing this on social media. You are right there is a complete failure of social care to recognise wanking as a normal activity, but also a complete failure of social care to recognise that, as you say, we are ALL HUMAN, we all need human touch, we all need recognition of our sexual feelings/understanding/outlets and we all have sexual parts. Sexual stuff in any form is, as you say, yet another issue that is weaponised against us. And god help you if you dare to ask, for someone who does not have an understanding for themselves, for advice about ball checks or personal hygiene or positioning issues when someone has to sit on toilets for a wee. Or if you want to talk about the fact someone only gets aroused when in the company of others and that sending them to their room which is a place where there may be for them no meaningful contact or other stimuli seems nothing more than a punishment and that, whilst we can’t all be wanking over our housemates, needs/feelings need not to be point blank ignored. It’s interesting that when someone is trussed up 24/7 in incontinence pads, the social care system doesn’t want to talk about “private time” then!
    So it seems if someone is able to enjoy their “private time”, then it is used as a weapon against them. But if they are unaware how to gain such private pleasures, it’s all swept under the carpet. Dehumanised again!

  8. Mark I love how powerful this argument is and you made me laugh out loud

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