Monday, 26 November 2012

Guest Blog - Surveys, Consultations and Family Carers

By Barbara Jacobson Linda Edwards and Janet Leifer,

Barnet Adult Social Care and Health have a duty to see that family carers’ rights are protected and that they are given sufficient support to care for their loved ones.
It can seem as though Barnet Adult Social Care and Health think everything can be fixed by conducting a survey or carrying out a consultation. This is not a view shared by carers themselves.

An 87-year-old family carer explains what it feels like to be a carer:

“On the surface things may not look too difficult but any carer of someone
with dementia could tell you this is not the case - you are relentlessly on
duty night and day. You are continually supervising personal care, cleaning
the bathroom, changing sheets, washing clothes, supervising medication,
and ensuring some stimulating activities, trying to have quality time with them
and at the same time fighting the continual desire to run away from it all.” 

Will a survey fix these issues? 

Family Carer Surveys
Family carers have asked what is the purpose of these nonsensical surveys that are now being completed so often.  No one appears to know!   These family carer surveys, costing a lot of money to complete, paint a picture that is invalid because what has been evaluated does not exist! But they do appear to satisfy the “tick box” culture in Barnet Adult Social Care and Health!!

How will a survey help the family carer who is  “basically watching someone you love fall to pieces in front of your eyes?   You have to keep going and do your best.  I find it soul destroying and am overwhelmed by the situations I have to deal with.” Family carer

Consultation Process
Another area of perceived ‘success’ for LBB Adult Social Care and Health is their "Consultation" process. They have held many chalk and talk events disguised as "Consultations" when in reality, they have already decreed what is going to take place. 

‘Success’ because they have demonstrated that they have followed their internal procedures.  However, their methods are flawed because their intentions were to continue in the "Tick Box" game that ......   reigns supreme in LBB  Social Care and Health."  

Recipients of services forget to remind them not only how lucky we are that they only pretended to consult with us but that they made up our minds for us before their pretence of the "Consultation" process took place!!

Social Care for Vulnerable Families and their Carers
LBB Adult Social Care and Health has recently come under attack for their lack of 'care' to vulnerable families. Have the criticisms been justified?  When you decide, please read the Family Carer Survey results alongside the day-to-day experiences here from a carer living in Barnet:

“In our experience Barnet Adult Health and Social Care does not exist - all they do is assess and review assessments.  Barnet Adult Social Care and Health is an insult to every single resident in Barnet.  As I have said before there is no adult social care in the London Borough of Barnet, who are not capable of safeguarding any living creature.

All the assessments and reviews carried out by Barnet social workers are a box ticking exercise and a way of seeing if they can reduce the person's level of need so Barnet Adult Social Care and Health can wash their hands of them.
Janet Leifer"

How could we all be so silly as to not realise that our role in the brave new world of Barnet social care is to fill in surveys to say what a marvellous service we receive, participate in consultations that have already been decided and be grateful for whatever service we receive, no matter how appalling. In this Brave New World, we should realise that so long as targets are met, then everything must be simply marvellous. 

Linda Edwards and Janet Leifer, Family Carers

PS  Here's what I sent out earlier today. It made my blood boil!  On one page, (LBB web site) the survey asks your view on council tax, while elsewhere on the site it says the decision has been made. Consultation or con act?
I have just finished the Finance and Business Planning Consultation on Barnet's website. First, how do you find out about these consultations – and there are about 6 others still live – unless you browse this website? I regret having missed some. How do people without computers get to participate? 
MOST IMPORTANT right now is that everyone – I mean everyone – takes a look at this consultation. You have to answer the questions on each page to move forward – just put in anything, then don't finish and submit if you don't have the patience or time to do this thoroughly, but get to the pages where suddenly One Barnet is mentioned, and mentioned as a done deal. Then you're asked for your comments on the savings. Look at the table in the link: a few numbers, no explanations. Are the council going to try to use this farce to say that they have consulted with the residents, are they planning this as a ruse to avoid a judicial review

Barbara Jacobson

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