Wednesday, 28 August 2013

5 different Care workers on 5 different visits #Dignity

Imagine this, you open the door to a complete stranger, they say hello. Slightly bashful and coy, you invite them upstairs, explaining just how you like it as you go, slowly peeling off your pj's, the ones with the coffee stain and some unidentified yellow substance that might be vom. You look away coyly as they go to help you, brushing your skin with their rubber gloved hands..

Stuttering, you explain hair first, then you can do your front but can they do your back. This stranger you met such a few short minutes ago begins to wash your hair as you sit passively, trying desperately to find some inane small talk to get over the embarrassment you feel at having this stranger wash you because you can't.

This isn't some sexy stranger 50 shades of grey sex romp it's the reality for many people who, like me, have social services funded care.

The first time is always the worst but once you get to know them and they you, and if they are bright and chatty, you eventually get over the "oh God I'm naked and I don't know you" bit.


Imagine if every care visit is like the first time, that you don't always know who will come to your door, that like me you might have five different carers in five visits. Is this OK? Is this what care is?

I can't always verbally explain what I need, sometimes I feel so god awful, brain fogged and sore i don't want to have to explain, or have to tell yet another stranger about my illness or have them look at me and try to hide the obvious "but you don't look sick" thought as it crosses their mind.

We talk a lot about dignity and affording care,but when profit is put before care, when the Care coordinators forget there is a human being on the receiving end of their rota decisions, people like me have just another tiny bit of their humanity stripped away.

I mean would you want to get naked in front of a stranger and let them touch you intimately?

I accept i need it.
I accept someone has to help me.

But I don't accept that it should be OK and when I raise the issue with the agency I'm met with promises to change it. It should never be ok in the first place.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Good Social Care - Makes the difference

I have been a little absent over the last few months, in part it was heeding the red flags of depression but more recently it was having the chance to get out and live a little.

A few things came together at once for me, all positive and while im typing this at 7.45am - feeling like death warmed up, half dreading the thought of heading into London to attend a training session for an exciting venture later in September - The fact im even able to do this trip at all is significant for me.

After 3 very long years of learning to cope and progressively getting worse, I was assessed in February by my Adult Social Care department about needing some more support. LM is amazing and i wouldn't manage now without him, but working full time and doing 80% of the household chores and support me is a tall order.

I dont want it to be that way, but it is and we cope. My lovely social worker, listened, didnt judge and understood. This for someone with an invisible illness that is used to being dismissed, ignored and generally told get a grip your not that bad was a revelation.

I get 3 x half hour visits a week from lovely carers, the agency itself is a bit rubbish but the carers are fab. That little but of extra support has taken me from struggling to coping, leaving me a bit more puff to manage other things.

At my review, we talked about how much i wanted to volunteer and get out more, but knowing i couldn't commit to a regular thing - I just cant sustain that level of activity or be reliable enough, I talked about my hopes to be part of the New Local Healthwatch and make a difference but within my limited capabilities, and how i wanted to just go out sometimes - in short have a bit of a bit of an independent life.

Blow me if lovely social worker didnt say ok how about 5 hours a week, maybe more if you need them - for a PA (Personal assistant) to support you to do stuff. Wow :) Id heard all the horror stories of people struggling to get stuff - and had that moment of should i really accept it.

It took a while, but eventually I got my fantastic PA - Miss S, she is bright, adaptable, friendly and its just easy. She is booked to come with me today, so while im dreading it, i know I can do it because she will be there and make sure im ok.

having her means not only did I get involved in Health Watch, I was appointed as chair if my local one. They know Im sick, understand I cant always manage to be here there and everywhere, we do lots by email, its flexible and I can bring my skills and knowledge into play but in little bursts of stuff rather than push myself too hard.

Some stuff has had to be dropped for a while, ive taken a massive step back from actively campaigning - but rather than a national focus, its a local one - being chair means I am in a unique position to really challenge services, especially ones aimed at sick and disabled people, after all I know dam well how it feels to get bad care, to be dismissed and isolated.

The Social Care bill is winging its way through the Lords and Parliament, the 2 biggest things we need to ensure is right is eligibility and portability. In other words its a myth (I wish I had some stats) that all social care bills are for 10's of £££££ a year many are like mine less than £6000 and is the difference between living and existing.

We need to campaign hard to get the national eligibility criteria to be set at moderate not substantial needs - or many many 1000's of us will disappear back to the shadows.

Ita another fight in a big list of fights - If i could encourage you to do one thing get involved in your healthwatch its there to be the independent voice of the consumers of health and social care - it has some statutory powers to make a difference. if lots of us get in there and lobby and work at a local level, we could seriously make a difference and we might just end up with a Social Care system fit for purpose..ours not theirs. So much emphasis is on the elderly (thats ok) but working age disabled people like me need support too....Healthwatch is also about health services.

you can find your loacal Healthwatch via here


I started this blog weeks ago - but like many things I got sidetracked and havent had chance to come back to this. The exciting training I was off to, was the Party Conference Training for activists - Im being supported by Leonard Cheshire to go to the Tory Conference and lobby on Social Care. I will blog soon about the specifics.