Tag Archives: children’s services

Off target…

At one point when Eedy was in his early teens he was assessed as needing male staff only. This had come out of the blue, so I questioned it with his then care provider. “It’s all legit,” I was told, “it’s from his risk assessment”. I further asked if his aggressive behaviour had increased without my knowledge. It hadn’t but I was firmly informed that Eedy had a history of ‘targeting female staff’, and the management of this was to ensure he only had male staff supporting him from now on.

Funnily enough, I was still able to have Eedy home. I was still able to go out with him. I was still able to drive a car with him as the single passenger. He could still be on his own with his little sister. And even funnier… we didn’t feel there was any threat.

So Eedy’s staff team became male. He came home one weekend, shortly after the changes, and I asked him if what he knew about it all. “I target females,” he told me. I asked him if he knew what that meant.

“Oh yes”, he replied confidently “It’s when I run at the women to get them to make those nice high pitched squealing noises like Nanny does!”

Me: …..

How social care lets down the introverted carers

It’s nothing to do with the stereotypical characteristic of ‘being British’ it’s about personalities. It’s not even about ‘not wanting to make a fuss’. It’s about patiently waiting for the professionals to do their job. Unfortunately, when the social workers are overstretched and their job becomes a continual fire-fight the introverts are left behind. The crisis has either passed, or become the norm.

I speak (well, blog) only from my own personal experience. My girl has a social worker – she’s ‘been in the system’ for the last 14 years (children and adult learning disability services) since her mother (my sister) died. Her main disabilities are due to sensory and processing differences. She’s not ‘complex care’ or ‘challenging behaviour’. No cause for alarm there then. My husband and I are both 20 years plus working and training social care staff – so we know the system.

In the last 14 years the social work team have seen my girl and me probably about 8 times. And that’s being generous. Certainly not annually – in fact she hasn’t seen a social worker for the last 4 years. There was a three year gap before that, and eighteen months before that….

It’s scary how the potential for issues to escalate is not addressed, how support is neglected unless ‘bumped’ up the list of priority (or not).

At one meeting (an emergency planning meeting for my nephew) I was read a report stating that I was demanding and the social worker reported that she was highly concerned that ‘[Mogs’] placement’ was breaking down – “not if, but when” was read out, with dour face totally unaffected by my tears of anger and disbelief.

I was read this report when my girl was 9 (some 9 months after she moved in with me) but no one had visited us in months, either before, during or after this report was written, or even in the seven months following it’s public airing…And this was not long after the horrendous death of Victoria Climbie, and the atrocious court case that followed. During this time social services talked at length about ‘lesson’s learned’. And although Mogs wasn’t (in my opinion) at any risk, her file was full of opinionated comments relating to my then husband’s mental ill health, my (alleged by them) continual financial requests (which were in fact for a kinship allowance) and ludicrously about me being seen driving around town in a brand new green car! (Of which never occurred – unless I have a double).

I’ve had numerous occasions when I’ve felt I don’t know what to do, I’ve raised concerns regarding potential serious safeguarding issues, we’ve had educational and currently have major employment issues. I’ve allowed the system to ‘put me off’. And feel we’ve become the bottom priority. Because I’ve spoken, hinted, made concerned comments and not complained, shouted or screamed. Not because I don’t think I need to, but because it’s not my way. I’m essentially an introvert.

I don’t ask for help in most areas of my life, my husband has to work out when I need support; he’s become the expert in offering. That’s the key really. Being available.

Mogs is an adult now and doesn’t want us being involved in everything. She’s her own person. But she still needs support. It’s pretty devaluing for an independent minded 23 year old to still have to run to us for her support in matters of employment seeking and benefits, but she has no choice. You see she’s an introvert too. And she hasn’t learned the effective example of ‘how to do it’ from me. The British social care system is less ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’ and more ‘if you don’t scream loudly, make threats, link to potential safeguarding, court cases or infer cost implications then you don’t get’.

But then again, if you do scream loudly, make threats and keep shouting you’re a troublemaker, a ‘difficult’ parent or just known as a total pain in the ass who needs to be suppressed. And there is one heck of a lot of evidence out there to show the extremes the system will go to in order to suppress those that seek justice…

Bit of a lose-lose situation really.

Transition

I went though a really tough time when Eedy hit 18. I dare not think how it was for him. That bloody awful word ‘transition’ (it’s a fine word in ‘normal’ life, but when applied to social care it becomes an epiphany of fear, worry, anxiety and stress). OK, so I have more years experience of the system than he has years on this planet, but working with adults with learning disabilities I’d never experienced ‘transition’ and never before in a parenting role.

‘Transition’ is an odd terminology, in my experience it is more likened to the guy with a disability suddenly being ripped from what they know and thrown into the unknown with no lifebelt, no parachute and no safety net.

Eedy has a diagnosis of autism, learning disabilities, microcephaly, adhd, challenging behaviour and various ‘oppositional defiance’/’ptst’ labels (depending on the diagnosing practitioner). Quite a placard to carry around.

He’s actually a really cool, loving and funny dude (thank you Sara Ryan for the terminology, it suits him perfectly!), a bit of a ‘job’s worth’ and a firm believer in righteousness, justness and playing by the rules…as long as you say exactly what you mean!

So, ‘transition’. Eedy hit 18 and moved into adult services. Suddenly he had to give permission for people to speak to me and to involve me in his life. Rather difficult for Eedy as he rates me highly. Due to this he thinks if he knows (or thinks) something then I know what he knows. (And on occasion I do). But…When he is anxious and ‘challenging’ *Staff speak* (or as he’d put it ‘having a bit of fuss’) and he’s asked, ‘shall we inform your auntie?’ He’s gonna say ‘no’. Because I should already know!

Fast forward 12 months. Eedy hasn’t shaved, washed, showered, bathed or had his toe/finger nails cut for at least 6 months (and two service providers). He is sporting long tufts of facial and head hair. His shoes hurt because his toe nails are so long, his behaviour appears to be out of control. He has a police caution for assaulting his staff (and realistically should have more). He won’t phone me or visit because he has had it stressed to him that ‘he is an adult now’. And he has taken that literally. Physically and emotionally he is a wreck.

I’ve been in a hard place too, I’m his auntie, not his mother, so am struggling with the emotional trauma of everything that’s past and present.

Eedy being an adult was a ‘transition’ for me too, but not the one I had expected. I don’t know what I thought and 6 months in, when Eedy’s service provider changed to the one I worked for, I innocently expected great things. But no…I was subjected to secret meetings, the unavailability of care plans, risk assessments, incident reports and at one point stumbled upon Eedy’s file, poorly hidden in a spare filing cabinet away from all the other files. I then, and still now have a problem distinguishing confidentially from incompetence. After all I was employed as a senior team member who should professionally have this information to competently be ‘on call’. (Regardless of involving family members in a person’s care – but that’s another story).

So, Eedy’s ‘behaviours’ began to spiral out of control, the environment he lived in was totally unsuitable and his support staff were not given any training in how to work with him. Suddenly, as ‘next of kin’ we were back in his life. Emergency meetings were held, Eedy not attending because he said he was ‘too busy’ – his words for ‘I don’t want to/don’t understand/feel pressured’ etc.

The need was established for an admission to the local assessment and treatment unit. But how would he get there informally?

My husband and I stated we would get him there, we directed his support organisation to remain totally uninvolved and on said day we went to his flat.

It was a tip! The flat was not a therapeutic environment for someone to gain in self-esteem or confidence; it was a visual confusion of the inside of Eedy’s head. Paper, writing, toys covering all floor space – wherever you stepped you’d be stepping on Eedy’s obsession with ‘road closures’ symbolised by bits of paper that only he understood. If mind-shut-down could be symbolised in paper, then this was staring you in the face (and he’d been living like this for months).

We spoke to Eedy candidly and sensibly, an hour and a half later he was agreeable to ‘going to hospital’. Of course I used my influence, Eedy was doing what he thought I wanted him to do. The hospital sussed this, and within two days of admission they decided to section him. There were going to be no issues regarding mental capacity here!

The Assessment and Treatment Unit was a watershed for Eedy removing the pressure he had been under, but once there, they pulled him off all his meds. He was climbing the walls, running off and attacking people. The section order was put in place. He was put back on the same meds, he calmed. The section was removed.

I served notice on his tenancy and his support organisation. He was now a bed-blocker with no provider and no home. We had meetings virtually every other day. To my knowledge he didn’t have any other assessment except the removal and reapplication of drugs and a sensory assessment to evidence the high level of tactile defensiveness that he already displays in everyday life. Two months later we moved him to a residential home where he would live with 2 other dudes.

We chose residential because ‘supported living’ had let him down. They had failed in recognising who Eedy really was and what he really needed. In reality it wasn’t supported living that had let him down, it was the management of the staff team, the incompetence of the assessment process and the failings in understanding Eedy’s needs.

Guess what? Good verbal communication does not mean the person has good comprehension or coping skills!

In Eedy’s case when he is stressed, overwhelmed or anxious, physical intervention isn’t the last resort; it’s the least traumatic action. When he is feeling loss of control he needs a team around him who, for a short period of time, will take the control from him, and give it back when he has had a chance to calm down. We’re not talking pin-down or prone restraint – just firm holds to stop him damaging himself or others.

Apparently that wasn’t available in supported living. All they had in place was to walk away.

… And leave him to spiral out of control.