By Linda Edwards
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Robert F. Kennedy
My adult daughter has a learning disability and is on the autistic spectrum. I am a family carer. I am a reasonable person. However, I am sure that the London Borough of Barnet (LBB) Social Care and Health senior Managers and Directors would not agree!
I don’t want anything for my disabled daughter that she is not entitled to receive or that other vulnerable people do not receive. I believe this to be fair and reasonable!
Having challenged their shoddy commissioning and lack of monitoring of damaging and inappropriate services for my disabled daughter, they continued to fund these services and sign them off as “good value” for over 15 years. I believe this to be unfair, unreasonable and just plain stupid!
They doggedly refuted my formal complaint submitted 28th March 2008 and wasted thousands of pounds of LBB and ratepayers money in defending the complaint, allowing it to progress as far as the Ombudsman stage.
All they had to do was become more competent in their monitoring and evaluating process. This should undoubtedly have led to the removal of the bullying service provider that was not providing the service to which my disabled daughter was entitled to receive and which they had irresponsibly commissioned.
My daughter became emotionally unwell, struggling for many years because of this inappropriate support, lack of management and staff being thrust on her that we wouldn’t trust to take our dog for a walk! They certainly knew very little about the needs of people on the autistic spectrum. Their management were so arrogant as to not want to learn from the Recommendations from the National Autistic Society!
- They shortened the complaints process, making it harder for family carers to have a successful outcome.
- They learnt that reporting and listening to lies (their response 4th July 2008 to my complaint) prevails and succeeds within the culture of LBB Adult Social Care and Health.
- How to best discourage paid and family carers from reporting complaints and safeguarding issues.
- LBB Adult Social Care and Health Senior Managers vindictive behaviour results in promotion.
What they should have learnt from my complaint:
- Family Carers will challenge their dogma, injustice, oppressive culture and resistance to listen to vulnerable people and family carers.
- We will find the energy and support to continue until there is a satisfactory conclusion for our family member and the people we are supporting and working with.
- We will do this individually, supported by each other and through organisations and newly formed groups such as “The Campaign Against Destruction of Disabled Support Services” (CADDSS). For further details, please email CADDSS1 @ gmail.com
Many of you have read my previous articles and I am thrilled to share with you that there has been a ‘Eureka’ moment because of the change in my daughter’s Service Provider.
I would like to thank my daughter’s solicitor, Yvonne Hossacks without whom I would still be asking for a meeting, which if agreed, would go nowhere because rarely was anything from LBB Adult Social Services and Health Managers followed up or actioned! There were so many times over many years that I was disregarded but in her role as my daughter’s solicitor, she achieved some considerable change for my daughter. Solicitors representing vulnerable people in Adult Social Care and Health should not be necessary and I am a sure solicitor who has a social conscience like Yvonne Hossacks would much prefer to be unnecessary and have more profitable work. Why is the culture of LBB Adult Social Care and Health so unfriendly to working in partnership with family carers?
Thank you to the Family Advocate who accompanied me to so many LBB meetings, even though the meetings achieved nothing for my daughter. She left many meetings feeling frustrated and upset and once remarked “I have been doing this job for over 30 years and have seen no change in how they behave towards family carers!” However, it proved crucial that there was a witness to the many broken promises and lack of action from LBB Adult Social Care and Health Managers!
I should also like to thank my daughter’s LBB Social Worker who has ‘listened’ to, ‘heard’ my daughter’s explicit needs, choices and decisions and checked out that they were from her rather than from me as some LBB Managers have suggested! In spite of her assessment of my daughter’s needs July 2011, in August 2011 when she was on holiday, the LBB In-House Learning Disabilities Services Manager overrode her assessment and removed my daughter’s crucial night support. This LBB social worker has supported the transition of the new service provider and demonstrated her excitement at the recent amazing changes in my daughter’s personal development. This must make the role of a caring social worker all the more worthwhile and satisfying.
My sincere thanks and appreciation to this new Head of Integrated Learning Disability Services who has been proactive in trying to heal the emotional damage done to my daughter after the LBB Manager of the In-House Learning Disability Services withdrew my daughter’s night support suddenly in August 2011. The outcome for her was…….. Guess what? Promotion!
The new Head of Integrated Learning Disability Services has authorised Direct Payments for as long as my daughter needs night support and has also demonstrated a desire to work in partnership with me as the family carer. Whilst I fully accept she doesn’t approve of my ‘tone’ in correspondence, I hope she can try to understand that my daughter and I have been on the receiving end of LBB’s Adult Social Care and Health’s “oppression, injustice and resistance” for many, many years…..
It will take a long healing process and conditions set by family and paid carers before we can withdraw from our campaign to highlight the effects of the abuse of power that prevails in LBB Adult Social Care and Health.
Thank you too, to the new service provider who I cannot name just yet for fear that I am ‘dreaming’ about the way in which the new service provider are working with my daughter and me, (family carer) and that tomorrow I may wake up to another nightmare!
Trusting they are working in this way with everyone, these are some of the differences between the new service provider culture and the previous service provider bullies that LBB Adult Social Services and Health Director refused to remove since her response to my complaint on 4th July 2008. The new service provider:
- Responds to my emails
- Responds to telephone messages.
- Is proactive in planning for my daughter’s future and greater independence
- Has not lied to me!
- Has been respectful of my daughter’s needs.
- Whilst they have been proactive in supporting my daughter’s needs, they have also reacted positively to her decisions and choices and encouraged her rather than attempted to control her.
- The new Service Provider has been respectful of my own needs as a family carer (I am at last beginning to plan my own life because my daughter is being supported appropriately and I am no longer having to fight for my daughter’s support to be as it should be!) For example, on one occasion, when I became ‘panicky’ because of the many years of the previous staff being late, their response was “you’re allowed to panic, too!” There was no contempt or scorn, as I have been so used to in the past.
- They have demonstrated respect, civility and understanding of everyone’s needs.
- They have not blamed me if my daughter has made a decision that is opposed to their own view.
Of course, with all the above, the new service provider has higher expectations to meet and further to fall than the previous service provider bullies, but we are all willing to take this risk!
When I thank them, they respond, “We are only doing our job!” Why didn’t LBB Adult Social Care and Health Managers and Director insist that the previous service provider bullies did their job?
With my daughter’s now superb service, why am I still campaigning about the past?
- My daughter will never get the wasted years back that LBB Adult Social Care and Health robbed her of by rebutting my formal complaint.
- She will not recover from the emotional damage done to her because LBB ignored the NAS Recommendations and my ‘expert’ knowledge and experience as a family carer
- I was made unwell on many, many occasions. This still affects my work and my life.
- LBB Adult Social Care and Health Directors and Managers have never acknowledged their responsibility for our many years of angst caused by them.
- We have uncovered many similar issues that are being ‘swept under the constantly expanding LBB Social Care and Health carpet’
- In spite of many issues of abuse, safeguarding, lies and rudeness reported to LBB Senior Managers and Director of Adult Social Care and Health, they have refused to remove the previous bullying service providers from the list for other LBB vulnerable people. This is outrageous!
- A written acknowledgement statement and apology needs to be forthcoming.
- A commitment for change needs to be put into place and monitored by independent lay leaders, including family carers.
- £16,000 is owed to my daughter, which LBB promised to ensure was returned to her. This was never actioned and I have always been too exhausted and weary in fighting to ensure my daughter was safe and had the necessary support to worry about her money.
Why am I connecting my daughter’s past trauma caused by LBB Adult Social Care and Health senior management to LBB Cabinet Resources Committee Meeting Monday 16th January 2012 to finalise the handing over of Learning Disabilities Services to the new Local Authority Trading Company? There are a few reasons for this connection and my continuing campaign:
- Cllr Rajput, Cabinet Member for Adults fervently believes that LBB Adult Social Care is providing a high quality of service to vulnerable people and their family carers. The problem is that whilst he may be taking note of carer’s surveys etc, he appears to be listening too much to the same senior managers and directors who have behaved so unprofessionally!
- Many other vulnerable people are receiving a similar lack of support and respect and suffer from the same lack of partnership.
- One of the people who asked questions at the Cabinet Resources Committee Meeting, asked about previous Safeguarding issues that had not been dealt with adequately when reported to LBB Adult Social Services and Health senior management.
Immediately after the Cabinet Resources Meeting on Monday 16th January, the Director of Adult Social Care and Health rushed out of the meeting to approach the person who had asked the Safeguarding questions. She informed us that it was not appropriate to bring Safeguarding issues to this public meeting (no personal confidential information had been divulged). She also said that had these Safeguarding issues been brought to her privately, she would, as she always does, have dealt with them immediately… watch this space for update!
- Councillor Brian Coleman, (together with his dear mother), who both give considerable service to the community, came downstairs to speak to the people who had asked Safeguarding questions at the Cabinet Resources Committee Meeting. Coincidentally, he also advised them that this meeting was not an appropriate place to ask Safeguarding questions.
- The Director of Adult Social Care and Health had been responsible for responding to my complaint (4th July 2008). I have continued to question LBB why what is written in glossy brochures and spoken in meetings and public conferences are not being put into practice.
Because of my behaviour in this way, the Director has refused to allow me to be a member of the Learning Disability Partnership Board. This is in spite of an “excellent interview” and “vast knowledge and experience” as reported by the people who interviewed me for the position of being a member!
This decision is spiteful and undemocratic and should have been challenged by Cllr Rajput – please look forward to my letter enclosing the communications and notes of meetings regarding my exclusion.
- The Manager of Barnet Homes and the Director of Adult Social Care and Health spoke at the Cabinet Resources Committee Meeting about LBB having extensive carer involvement. I believe this to be true. However, is this involvement only with family carers who do not complain and challenge injustice? Once they complain about a service for their family member, senior management abuse their power and authority by discriminating and excluding them!
The French sculptor Auguste Rodin said “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience widely”
So how have I used “the experience widely”? Whilst LBB Adult Social Care and Health were actively rebutting my complaint and allowing all my daughter’s problems to continue, little did I know that in another part of Barnet were Safeguarding issues being reported to the very same people who were disregarding the issues that I had complained about on behalf of my daughter! Shame on all the people who knew about this and did nothing!
Please watch this space for further celebrations of good practice from my daughter’s new service provider. I am optimistic and hopeful that the ‘honeymoon period’ of the first six months will continue because of the management of her service.
Recommendations for LBB Adult Social Care and Health, which I am so sure, will be disregarded:
- Adhere in practice to Government policies and strategies, instead of merely speaking and writing about them.
- Monitor and evaluate outcomes!
- Adhere in practice to their own LBB policies and strategies, instead of continually speaking and writing about them.
- Monitor and evaluate outcomes!
- Whistleblowers should be embraced and helped to feel safe, as they are able to see what Managers and Directors don’t have the opportunity to see. Safeguarding training and administration is costing LBB a great deal of money. Therefore, as soon as whistle blowers have the courage to bring issues of abuse to the notice of managers, considerable energy and resources has been put into cover up, thus allowing the abuse to continue. This is unforgivable, unacceptable and must be reversed immediately!
- The Director of Adult Social Services and Health ignored my three communications for a meeting (early 2011) so that I could describe how her response in refusing to remove the ‘cowboy’ service provider had put my disabled daughter at risk and damaged her and me, as a family carer. Instead, she passed my request to her senior manager to action as a complaint, when it clearly was not a complaint! Once again, wasting valuable resources and money in investigating a complaint that hadn’t been made rather than agree to meet with me to hear the outcome of not removing the bullying service provider. They must be made accountable for the money and resources they waste!
- Some people are not suited to working with vulnerable people. The odd day training cannot break down a culture of bad practice that has been in place for many years, especially if Management endorses this practice. LBB need to be less concerned with protecting staff and themselves and more concerned with the rights of vulnerable people according to the Seven Key Outcomes for Social Social Care Service Users.
“The time is always right to do what is right” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Linda Edwards is a carer in Barnet. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye