guest blog post by Pat Onions
The long awaited report from Ms Reablement arrived in the post this week, over 2 months after her visit. Poor old social works IT had worked overtime to get it into large print for me. Manage it they did and the postman puffed up the drive with a parcel the size of 5 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Don’t be silly this wasn’t just her report…it was also a carer’s assessment and my sight loss assessment of ‘need.’ Both carried out and written by my own social worker.
Ms Reablement’s report was the whole reason for us not getting any services from social works, when we had a crisis, so I was keen to find out its secrets. Unfortunately for me it had done the rounds within the corridors of social works long before it reached me. That put me at a disadvantage and had I received it earlier I could have discussed its contents with social works.
It had my name on the first page but after that it bore no relevance to me whatsoever.
This was a ‘lady’ who had visited me twice. The first for half an hour in which time she spent most of it talking to David and, as it turned out, observing his movements. She did ask to see his shower, which she commented, was ‘adequate.’ She did manage to comment on his lack of ability to walk. Observant of her. On her second 10-minute visit I asked if she knew our situation? Of course, and if I can be of any further help, get in touch. She left quickly and now I understand why.
Please remember that I am blind and now, thanks to DWP, classed as ‘severely’ blind. That bit is very important. Just as important is that at the time I had a very badly shattered left ankle and was very very sad.
I had gone back to Australia to be with my brother who was dying from bowel cancer. I was with him long enough to say goodbye. Whilst there I slipped and broke my ankle. So I was hurting badly physically and mentally. Those are the clues.
The Australian surgeon had pinned, plated and screwed my foot back on and I was wearing a toe to knee cast. The right ankle was severely damaged too with both legs swollen looking like an elephants. It was a mess. I had been given the strictest of instructions, by the surgeon, physio and medical team back in Australia, NOT to weight bear, certainly not on the left one and to rest both. Any deviation would result in permanent loss of use to one leg if not both. They were serious…. but of course they have never met THE REABLEMENT Occupational Therapist. What she was described as is: Reablement Occupational Therapist working with our ‘Supporting your Independence’ home care team. Wow.
The first pages contained my name, address and a very brief accident report. Now I got to the interesting bits.
Communication: Fully independent but cannot read large print books. Actually Ms R I can’t read. Neither can I write. I can talk if you were interested.
Next. Process skill. No idea what they are but I have no issues. She said so.
Feeding. Fully independent. Yup go with that. Just I can’t get anywhere near the fridge or kettle to have a cuppa.
Dressing. Ah this is where I am in trouble. Observed to be dressed prior to OT arrival for a self-care assessment. True but no one told me I shouldn’t be dressed and it was 2.30 in the bloody afternoon.
Starts getting really good now.
Stair climbing. Fully independent. Oh really?
Ambulation. Fully independent. Oh.
Shopping. Moderate help. Mrs O present doing shopping. ??????
But this one has to beat all other reports ever, ever written.
Transportation. At present Mrs O would not be able to drive. This should resolve once the fracture has healed. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the world is flat and the moon made of cheese and there are little green men on Mars…
She did have the good grace to write that I would not feel safe hanging, with both hands, on a grab rail at the back door and swinging down from the step. This was her suggestion to get me in and out of the house. The wonderful medics in Australia had shown me if I had to go outside, how to hop up backwards using the least pressure on my better foot. Her idea was far more dangerous as I can’t even see my feet let alone where they were supposed to land. Unfortunately Head of Housing and Community Care big white chief, classed my non compliance as a ‘refusal of a service.’
There were a number of other categories including laundry, light snacks, main meals, showering and toileting. She wrote that David helped me, we did them together or David did them for me, alone. This is my crippled husband, who finds breathing painful, trying desperately to help me.
It is ironic that her report should come in the same package as those done by my social worker.
In those reports the social worker, who knows me well, writes at length about our day-to-day lives, struggles and what true abilities we both have. How I am David’s carer and he for the most is my eyes. It mattered not that David was pushing himself beyond his ‘tolerance of pain’ limit and capabilities. Something he can never recover from and is now receiving extra NHS treatment. My thanks go to the wonderful staff at the pain clinic that has helped so much without question.
Prior to her intervention social works had offered us both daily showers. Yes. One shower. Each. Every day. 7 days a week. This was their idea of offering a service. Stupidly because it was so painful and near impossible to get to and from I reduced this to David only 2 times a week. Tut tut. Another service I had refused.
As far as Ms Reablement was concerned she was perfectly happy that David could look after us both. She totally ignored any social workers reports.
So on the strength of Ms R’s report and that alone, social works would provide NOTHING.
PS Sadly this is serious but unfortunately not unique. Lack of funding and specialist training means unsuitable ‘professionals’ are making bad judgements. The complaints system is long with outcomes in favour of local authorities. It is humiliating to be treated like scroungers when often a little help and support will see us through a crisis. These people are in well-paid jobs to look after those in ‘need.’ Whatever I do now it will not change the non-services we were given. According to the ‘experts’ I am not a carer, nor disabled, need nothing and as such get zilch.
I have lost any trust I might have had in the services
Two things are certain. David is my number one priority and I will fight the bastards.