Saturday 12 October 2013

Looked after but not cared about #SocialCare

I've tried, God knows I've tried to truly express my distress, anxiety and shame at needing care and accepting that I needed it. I shouldn't feel shame or guilt, surely it's just a case of accepting I need some extra help, but I do feel it - right to my bones.

I feel ashamed about what others think of me, after all I look well don't I. Ashamed I reached a point where the simple task of trying to get myself clean and dressed in a daily basis was leaving me so exhausted and broken I couldn't manage anything else and I was beginning to avoid doing it, spiraling down into a cycle of spending days in my jim jams and not going out and my husband having to help me and getting upset as I became more and more distressed. Shame is not a good feeling to have.

That knot of anxiety I try to suppress every time I open my door on care days to see if it's a carer I know or yet another stranger - Ive blogged before about it, but I tried to make light of it. I'm a size 22, I'm not very body confident and I loathe having to get naked in front of someone that isn't my husband.  A cruel voice in my head chips away about what they think of me piling on my shame; not only am I disabled but I'm a fat disabled too. I cover my embarrassment by being chatty and lighthearted covering up my fears and frailties - see look I'm OK really, but I'm not and the absurdity cannot be ignored.

The decisions made by the care agency, perpetuate the sense that I'm not important. They rota staff on back to back calls, safe in the knowledge they can use the "oh but we are allowed a 30 minute leeway" to cover the fact they allow no travel time between clients. Visits are timed to the minute with barely time to feel like I'm cared for, the staff are lovely and do their best but by the time I'm washed & dressed there is no 5 minute chat with a cuppa - it's write in the book and off to the next client who's been waiting 15 minutes already.

"Assisted with shower, dried hair, helped to dress, had a chat" sums up my care.

Poor communication, never knowing who will come or if the times will change or even if they will know my name if I have been added at the last minute - I know my surname is a mouth full but my name is Beth even that would do.

At first it was OK I have to say, I had the same 2 carers week in week out for a few months but recently its begun to change and I have gone from not really wanting it to this sense of shame that reduces tough as old boots me to a sobbing mess.

Having care shines a light on my darkest fears and truths, the things I try so hard to play down despite what others may think. My shame is a well told story in my life and one I try so hard to re frame, I never asked to get ill and no matter how much I kid myself this is just my new normal it's not.

It's all done nicely but scratch the surface just read this blog Lucy in bed blog: SS Review or this one my daft life or this one her name was Gloria I know I'm not the only one to know the truth. Care is not how you might imagine it to be it's become about process,systems, contracts and decision makers hiding behind their rules and procedures and people like me caught in the it's "My Care my Choice" are left demoralised and just a little bit sadder that we are not truly cared for, we are just a name on someone's list.

If we truly want to change things then we must change the way we view carers, give them better pay, better hours and the recognition they deserve. Only then will be begin to address the system failure to care. 

The next big thing is integration person-centred Health and Social Care but how can the system really change when the companies tendering for contracts, commissioners and policy makers continue to say the words but fail to act.

After Thought:

It occurred to me after I pressed publish - I also see another side of Social Care - in addition to the agency care paid for directly by my council I also have direct payments. This pays for my fantastic PA - her role is to support me to access the world, she helps with paper work, supports my role as chair of my local Healthwatch, baking and sewing she basically helps me be independent and do things I enjoy. 

I love that my council has supported this but it also shows in stark contrast my experience of personal care as outlined above. It was impossible to find someone for 1.5 hours of support which means I rely on agency staff.  

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