Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Guardian reports Barnet Council planning to abolish provision of social care?

I read with astonishment that it appears the right wing Barnet Conservative Council may be planning to abolish social care and expect relatives to do the job for them. The article appears in today's Gaurdian in the Diary section

See the third item down. It says
Meanwhile, a vision of the big society future from the Conservative crucible of change that is Barnet in north London. First, in the latest consultation, the reasonable questions. How would you feel about your street or neighbourhood providing a "home-cooked alternative" to meals-on-wheels for old folk? What about a home-share scheme, "where people are matched to live with an older person"? And then, the ideological stuff, upon which views are canvassed. Such as: "It is the responsibility of the family, not social services, to support a disabled adult or older family member who needs support." And, "if a member of my family needed support, I would expect to take a lead role in providing them with care, with social care services providing carer support, training and back-up cover". Don't blink in Barnet. There goes the welfare state.
Barnet Council seem to completely lack understanding of modern society. Many people live miles from elderly parents and can't move due to work/childcare/house prices. Not everyone has a spare room to stick granny in.I do know about this subject as our family had to care for mother for eight years after she had a stroke. My mother was wealthy and wanted to live (and die) at home. Let me tell you what this involved.

She paid for a lady to come and clean/ get her up four days a week. She got meals on wheels from Barnet, which she paid for. My sister Catherine would stay with her for two nights a week (Cath lives in Northampton and has six kids and 15 grandchildren). My sister Caroline would visit her every lunchtime to check she was ok (she lived locally but had wanted to move out of the area, which she only did when my mother passed away). My wife would make her dinner every night Cath wasn't there. I'd have a Guinness with her and make sure she got to bed. My brother Laurie would do this when I wasn't around (I lived six doors down the road from her). I would take her on holiday every year to Lourdes for a week. I would then go on holiday for two weeks and my sister Valerie who lives in the USA would come and stay to give Cath a break.

My mother had six children and between us we managed to ensure she had a decent quality of life. It required the whole family planning our entire lives around her care. She was also wealthy and able to pay for additional help. I am pleased we did, but all of us have children and even with six of us it was a huge strain. I know for a fact that it would be impossible for most families to manage. Of course the ideologues who think this is a good idea, have absolutely no concept of how all encompassing it is.

One time I had to take my mother to hospital after she had a fall. The nurses were extremely wierd with me. Eventually I snapped and said "look can you just get a doctor to check my mother out. I want to get her home as quickly as possible". At that their attitude changed and a doctor appeared within five minutes. I queried why the sudden change. They replied "we thought you were trying to dump her on us". I was disgusted that they could suggest such a thing. They said "oh, it happens all the time, especially at this time of year (it was Xmas". I was affronted and said "I consider the suggestion offensive". The nurse retorted "I'm sorry and I realise you weren't going to do that, but I can't remember the last person who wanted to take an elderly relative home".

Of course the idiots who want to push this burden onto families haven't thought this through. Ultimately the costs will be higher, because people will crack under the strain and dump the rellies on the NHS. If you don't believe me, ask the nurses at A&E at Barnet.


Morris Hickey said...

If you think it was a burden for six of you then have a thought about what it is like for just one where the parent is unable to walk, has used a wheelchair for almost 20 years, and is now 101 years old. I count my blessings despite this. It enables me to survive.

Vicki Morris aka Citizen Barnet said...

I'd be interested why they're raising this now (the Guardian). The Freer article is from 2010. Have they been briefed recently by someone in Barnet council? Worth asking the journalist.

Vicki Morris aka Citizen Barnet said...

Actually, it looks like it's from a current consultation. We'd better go and take a look!

caroline said...

The word 'support' applied to a family member needing care is the key to this. To those who have never had to care for a person with a severe disability 'support' suggests popping in for a cup of tea, maybe taking to a few hospital appointments, being the contact person for remote telecare schemes and maybe spending the odd night or two with the person if they get an infection.
To the person framing this question my guess is 'support' means 'care' i.e. making sure somebody gets up, is washed, dressed, fed, toiletted, watched, safeguarded and taken anywhere they need to go.
Oh, and 'carer support' means telling someone how wonderful they are and if they are very, very lucky arranging a sitting service for a couple of hours a week.
So, what a member of the public understands by the proposition is 'do you want to have control of how you would care for someone' but what LBB means could well be 'do you think it's a good idea for families to provide everything for a person with a disability if we give you a bit of training and a pat on the back?'
It's a chilling example of the need to be very careful what you agree to.

Janet - CADDSS said...

Volunteers from the wider community, especially Barnet Councillors, who would like to help care for my husband would be most welcome. His needs are"critical and substantial" and he may be a risk to himself and other people. Any takers?

I should add that he and all his family want him to remain at home and want his life to be as pleasant as possible.