Wednesday, 3 June 2009

"Shut up and keep still!"

" Shut up and keep still" were the words spoken to one of our multiply disabled sons aged 12, by a carer, at home, some months ago. The carer was/is a qualified Childrens' Nurse. Needless to say, she didn't cross the threshold of our house again.
John Smeaton's post today has prompted this memory; as he says,

"What I wish to underscore is that there is evidence of a culture of neglect in Britain of elderly, disabled and vulnerable people;"

It seems to me that some of this culture of neglect is systematic in that professional carers,working in the community, and often for an organisation, are often working under considerable pressure: in the community, they visit a number of clients, operating a tight time schedule, with virtually no flexibility.So they can only come to help a person at a time that suits them, or their organisation, rather than a time that suits the individual needing care.
They can only perform the tasks set out in the client's care plan , so if, for instance a light bulb needs replacing, or a piece of equipment stored on a high shelf needs using, they are unable to help.
Or, if, as in our case, such a carer is assigned to help one young person, (older son) and another young person (younger son) is in need of urgent help, the carer cannot assist. They are not allowed to because employers liability insurance would not cover them.
They are only allowed to dispense and administer blister pack medicines , therefore they cannot help with medicines in liquid/suspension form.

A few years ago, we were approached by the then Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI).It was about to inspect local domiciliary care services and wanted to hear from clients, or as in our case, parents of clients. We responded, giving praise where it was due and criticism where it was due. I think part of the purpose of such inspections is to exemplify and disseminate good practice in the care profession, as well as to raise standards where that is needed. In our case, the end result was that the provider of domiciliary care for our sons, far from wanting to improve its services, decided that it was no longer able to meet one of our sons needs at all, leaving us scrabbling about trying to fill the gap.

It's not difficult to imagine the sort of conditions, referred to in John Smeaton's post, in the community as well as in institutions, particularly in the case of people who cannot speak up for themselves, and who may not have anyone to speak up for them.

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