Guest Blog by Linda Edwards (Family Carer),
As a family carer in Barnet, I should like to thank the Learning Disability Social Work Review Team Manager for re-investigating a Complaint I made about an abusive incident towards my daughter, who has learning disabilities and autism, and myself.
On 19th April 2011 at 4.30pm, my daughter and her Support Worker arrived at my office whilst I was in a meeting. They were both distressed and her Support Worker explained that the Senior Care Manager from the Supported Living Service Provider supporting my daughter, which had been commissioned by London Borough of Barnet (LBB) Adult Social Care and Health, had refused to provide the train fare for my daughter and her support staff to visit her father. It was 4.30pm and my daughter was due to leave at 8.30am the following morning. The Support Worker explained that she didn’t know what to do as for the past three years; they had been providing the train fare for my daughter’s visits.
I too, didn’t know what to do and telephoned the Senior Care Manager to find out why he had changed this policy with no notice. He began screaming and shouting and instructing me to stop my work and sort out the mess (that he had created). His screaming at me caused further distress to my daughter, her Support Worker and to myself. I felt upset that my work colleagues had to hear this man shouting at me, and that my daughter was by now extremely distressed.
The following morning I was still shocked and described this unprofessional incident to my daughter’s Social Worker who advised that she would inform the Learning Disability Social Work Review Team Manager. After I submitted a complaint he met with the Service Provider’s CEO and with their Senior Care Manager who had been abusive. They responded by telling lie upon lie about the incident and about me. So, not only did the incident occur, but also the outcome of my complaint was based on lies. I therefore was forced to challenge this outcome causing further distress to me, and which cost even more expense to the London Borough of Barnet.
The Learning Disability Social Work Review Team Manager offered to reinvestigate my complaint with the additional issue of the lies that had been told to him by the Service Provider Management. He met with me together with my ‘support friend’ and then he met with the witness from my office who had witnessed the incident. He then met with the CEO and Senior Care Manager again.
The outcome of his reinvestigation is that he is satisfied that the whole of my complaint should be substantiated. I have asked for reassurance that no other vulnerable person in Barnet will receive the service from such a ‘bullying’ Service Provider, but so far this request has been refused with the comment “It is important to be proportionate with the comment in our response to complainants and to providers!"
My first experience of the Complaints process in Barnet was very different. In March 2008 I made a formal complaint to Barnet Social Care and Health which included issues by the same Service Provider who had demonstrated that they had no specialist understanding of working with people on the Autistic Spectrum or working towards goals and outcomes. After six months, I asked them for information about their goals for my daughter, and the same Senior Care Manager who screamed at me on 19th April 2011 became rude and abusive screaming “We are still getting to know her. We can’t perform miracles. You must be patient”. In spite of three senior LBB Adult Service Managers at the meeting, including the Manager of the Adult Social Work Team who was in the chair, no action was taken. Had the Chairperson not accepted this intimidating behaviour from a Senior Care Manager commissioned by LBB, or had the Director of Adult Social Care and Health removed them when I first reported such behaviour in October 2007, two weeks into commencement of their contract, they wouldn’t have been around to repeat the same behaviour four years later. Them “Getting to know her” with no goals or outcomes lasted over four years, until August 2011! By this time my daughter had become deskilled from their lack of autism expertise, inability to put into practise a person centred plan, work towards any goals and refusal to work with me in partnership.
On 4th July 2008, in response to my complaint, on behalf of LBB Adult Social Services, the Director of Adult Social Care and Health refused to remove the ‘bullying’ Service Provider, basing her report on their lies and assumptions from the Manager of the Adult Social Work Team who had chaired the meeting when they had screamed “We are still getting to know her!” With further intimidation, she then suspended the complaint and I could only get the complaint reconvened after many months, having met with Andrew Dismore (then MP) and securing the services of a specialist solicitor.
Intimidation, lies, incompetence, bad practice and exclusion by Senior LBB Managers have been cause for me to make other complaints and resulted in me becoming unwell, being supported by my doctor and often unable to work. This culture is totally in contrast to the Governments Carers Strategy, from which LBB have created the Barnet Carers Strategy 2009-2012. It is very clear what this and the previous Government has wanted for carers: “Staff that work in health and social care should respect carers. Staff should work together with carers in looking after their family member.”
Early in 2011, I wrote to the Director of Adult Social Care and Health at the LBB a few times to ask her to meet with me so that I can describe the effects on my daughter and on myself as a carer, of her decision in July 2008 to keep the ‘bullying’ Service Provider based on lies, assumptions, incompetence, lack of experience and a lack of monitoring, but so far she has ignored my request.
I sincerely thank the Learning Disability Social Work Review Team Manger who has reinvestigated my complaint 19th April 2011. Whilst my daughter cannot regain the wasted past four years, I only wish that this Manager had responded to my complaint in 2008 rather than the Director of Adult Social Care and Health who insisted that the London Borough of Barnet would continue to pay for such an inappropriate and shoddy service for my vulnerable daughter.
In his first response to my complaint 19th April 2011 the Learning Disability Social Work Review Team Manager said “I can only point out that this seems to be part of the poor communication between you and Hillgreen Care Ltd and that the sooner this situation is resolved, then the better it will be for (my daughter) and for you.” Why then, did the Director of Adult Social Care and Health continue commissioning this bullying Service Provider and poor value contract since October 2007?
Her decision was nothing to do with the current funding issues for vulnerable people but based on listening to and representing unfounded lies and disregarding me as a carer. The London Borough of Barnet could have commissioned a good value for money service for my daughter, as there are some excellent Service Providers in Barnet who strive to offer the quality of service that our vulnerable family members need and deserve. Instead, she chose to have the final word!
What other profession would tolerate such abusive, lying behaviour and still retain the same Service Provider to repeat such behaviour? Only the “Care Industry!”
Wouldn’t it be reassuring for all vulnerable people, their family carers and the caring rate-paying Barnet residents, if the London Borough of Barnet refused to continue commissioning such inappropriate Service Providers?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Update - 13/11/2011 Linda added the following
Update - 13/11/2011 Linda added the following
I do hope that LBBarnet are monitoring my guest blog and all related contributions.
On behalf of family carers, I only wish that I had shared my stories earlier. The fear of 'coming out' was that my vulnerable daughter would have been victimised. I and others are monitoring this very, very closely and I promise that any whiff of victimisation will be disclosed.
It is a pity the LBBarnet did not monitor the shoddy service they provided and the cowboy organisation they commissioned since February 2007.
They would have saved considerable money for the rate payers of Barnet.
Linda Edwards is a family carer. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye. Please email me via the link in my profile