Tag Archives: social care

Police checks

Just before Eedy was eleven years old he was being ‘looked after’ by the state. His father didn’t have any contact and I was his only family link/visit. His sister lived with me, indeed, it was okay for him to live with me, only I’d said I couldn’t cope.

I was grieving my sister; he was grieving his mother.

His sister didn’t display aggression …and didn’t need 24-hour attention. The cracks were showing in my marriage, then-hubby and Eedy hated each other and both presented ‘challenging behaviour’ in different ways (!).

I turned to the social care system for help. I’d been an aunty for the last 10 years.

But not a mother.

I couldn’t cope. I needed to continue with my full time job as a residential care home manager in order to pay the mortgage. Actually, I’d not asked for my life to change, so I didn’t want to give my career up. I’d already moved from one employment to another in order to be closer to home and have less shift work, but Eedy’s behaviour made it untenable to work full time and be on the ball.

The social care system did provide some support. I was allocated one weekend a fortnight’s respite for Eedy. This was at a children’s respite service. All was good there. Eedy was safe and I had some space. Eventually though, it wasn’t enough.

All I could see for the rest of my life was our fortnightly break. The marriage was getting worse, more volatile, more irretrievable. I turned again to the children’s service. I was told that due to the ‘priority’ they would be able to offer me the use of an ‘intervention team’ who would look after Eedy from school, through to around 7pm. The thinking being that he would come home and go to bed (like that happened – ever!) I refused. All I could see was this continuing until the funding was withdrawn or until he showed the slightest improvement in his behaviour.

I was told there was no other option. I was pushed into taking Eedy to the respite centre and phoning social services saying he couldn’t come home on the Monday.

Where I was right then I really had no choice.

Eedy stayed at the respite service for 4 weeks (during this time described as a bed-blocker) as no other children could go for respite due to safety reasons because of his behaviour. I was able to visit, able to attend meetings, but as he was no longer living with me I no longer had any rights other than that of a ‘concerned relative’. I didn’t have parental responsibility. His mother had cited in her will that I should have guardianship – but this was not recognised in a court of law. Fast forward to Eedy’s going into ‘the system’, foster care, then back to respite care, then finally into residential care and I was told he could no longer come to stay (but for some reason he could visit) …because I had not been police checked. It kept being mentioned, we were told every person who was likely to turn up at our home when Eedy was there would also need a police check. We were never given the forms.

We didn’t have him overnight again until he was 20.

Home life

I get so proud of Eedy when he comes home these days. My weekly report from his care home show opposition, rebellion and down right bloody mindedness, but when he’s home we get a totally different person. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not unhappy where he lives (as far as I know), he sometimes chooses not to come home. Which actually helps me to feel he is okay where he lives.

This week we were informed of a safeguarding alert from the home relating to another resident, caused by Eedy – think of the most offensive words and insults you could throw and you wouldn’t be far wrong. But I’ve never heard Eedy swear. He’s never dropped the ‘C’ bomb to me, or even f-ed or jeff-ed. But I don’t doubt that he does!

Tonight at 8.40 he told me I was late with his tablets – those tablets that aren’t locked away, they are left on the kitchen side. I potted them up and told him what each is for. I then potted up his 10pm tablet and told him it’s ready for him to go get it when it’s time (‘cos he’s far more likely to remember it than me).

A little while later one of the dogs started getting restless. Hubby and I were sat in recliner seats, Eedy was stood rocking from side to side (as is the norm for him). Hubby looked up:

Hubby: Eedy – let the dogs out will you?
Eedy: Ok

A little while later –

Chrissie: Eedy – let the dogs back in
Eedy: Ok

All so normal – yet worlds apart from the ‘normal’ of the care home. We’ve just had a conversation about shopping tomorrow – Eedy has the choice of coming with us or stopping home alone. There is no risk (and no risk assessment). He’ll be cool. He’s 25 years of age and can use a phone if he needs to.

But in Social Care world he’s never left alone. His tablets are never left out and every prompt is translated by him as a nag. Before coming home he hadn’t washed for over 3 weeks. The area manager asked him if he bathed here. He replied ‘Chrissie wouldn’t let me come downstairs if I didn’t wash’ – not true, but happy he respects my standards! When I raised it on the way home he said ‘you can’t make me’ I replied that I neither couldn’t nor wouldn’t but, we are family so why would we engage in such fights? He didn’t have an answer. And he’ll shower tomorrow morning before I see him. Without doubt.

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.

Institutions

I remember being shown around a ward of a long stay institution as a student nurse. After being shown the office, laundry, dormitory and drugs cabinet I was shown into the dayroom. Thirty-ish people with learning disabilities sitting in chairs around the edge of the ‘day-room’. They were introduced, by diagnosis, by behaviours, and by any other oddities that made them stand out.

One lady was pointed out by name – “This is ‘Lindsey’, she has the voice of an angel.”

“Come on Lindsey, sing for Chrissie – she’s the new student”

‘Lindsey’, right on cue, sang…

“I’m nobody’s child. Nobody’s child
Just like a flower, I’m running wild
I’ve got no mummy’s kisses, no daddy’s smile
No body loves me, I’m nobody’s child”

Over the next few years, at the same institution, during my training I heard other ‘residents’ singing the same song, like an anthem. This was the first time I heard it, but certainly not the last. I don’t know if this ‘Lindsey’ had family who visited, cared for her or missed her. But the poignancy of the lyrics didn’t seem to matter. This was the Lindsey’s of the institution’s party piece and they sang on cue.

Even then, as a naive and very young student nurse in the 1980’s I found this disturbing.

Why the nicknames?

Throughout my blogs I’ll be sharing with you information about my niece and nephew. Both are in their twenties and both have autism – from one end of the scale to the other. They moved in with me when Eedy was 10 and Mogs was 8, after their mum, my sister, died. Mogs still lives with me and her brother Eedy has lived in a few different places, supported under the ‘social care’ bracket. I’m their auntie, next-of-kin, mother figure and advocate…

So, why the nicknames…?

They have autism
I have neuro-‘not-so’-typical
They like to play with the sounds of words
So do I.
I have no idea why we added ‘Eedy-steam-roller’ to the end of my boy’s first name. But we did and he and I found it the funniest thing. Eedy stuck, as a term of endearment. Representing fun, laughter, the good times, happy times.
My girl’s nickname is much more logical (as is fitting for her) Mogs, rather than the obvious.
Both work. Both maintain confidentiality. (Unless you know me and them). But good enough for the World Wide Web.

Mogs is able to, and has given her consent to my musings. So has Eedy, in fact, he’s really quite enjoying getting me reading these stories back to him. He gets this computer and web malarkey and is happy to be a part of it.