Throwing ‘money’ at a ‘problem’

I’ll say it again.  I just don’t get the workings of the Mental Capacity Act in practice.  It just seems obfuscation* gone out for a night on the tequila to me. Out of necessity. I kind of understand the thinking behind direct payments (DP) though. Enabling/empowering people to buy in appropriate support/assistance (without having to rely on local authority provided support that can be constraining/limiting/inappropriate and sometimes patronising).

The early signs for me that DP were a bit flaky appeared at a series of meetings with some colleagues a year or so ago, in which an anecdote circulated involving a someone who chose to use his/her DP on Reiki sessions. This caused raised eyebrows. I didn’t understand why. If the Reiki made a difference to that person’s life, what was the problem? So what if there’s no evidence base to support the use of Reiki? It was probably more, or at least as, effective as a ‘turn in’ service involving a 10 minute visit from a carer at 6pm to get someone ready for bed. When they weren’t ready for bed.

Of course, some sharpish regular blog readers will be hopping up and down by now, hands up in the air to interject; BUT THAT’S WHAT LB’S DOING IN CHOOSING NOT TO GO TO THE FARM!!  Erm.. No. Not exactly. Let’s not drag LB’s choice-making into this particular discussion for now, eh?

So. DP. A good thing. In principle. If people are allowed (or able) to buy in the support/assistance/services they need. And there lies the problem.

We chose to have direct payments, I don’t know how far back. It was such tiny amounts at first, it covered a session at after school club each week for a couple of years. And then when LB turned 18, it increased to just about cover about 5 after school club sessions a week. At almost the same time, things deteriorated to the point that he could no longer go to after school club.

Cripes. What to do? Pay for an assistant to cover the time instead using DP? Yep. Way to go. This was our November time thinking. But the aggressive behaviour increased, inversely affecting the (small) pool of potential ‘assistants’/assistance we could draw on. On an almost weekly basis we crossed potential and actual past carers off a tiny list of possible support. This was sad in itself given some were young people who’d known LB since he was a pup.

The Christmas “CRISIS” and events of the weeks after left an empty list. At the same time, the Care Manager increased the amount of DP paid into the ghost account. Within an impressively quick turnaround.

Ironically, while the original intention, for us, to plump for direct payments, was to be able to organise everyday ‘ordinary’ support for LB (ie. support not drenched in learning logs, private care provider-ville, and agency crap), his ‘decline’ meant that all we could hope to arrange was the ‘official’ type care, and that takes time to put in place. One of several care providers I contacted during this period, eventually replied weeks after my original email to say;

  • This is potentially support we could provide. I do not have enough support staff to accommodate this currently, but we could recruit specifically for this purpose. Our hourly cost is £14.47/ hour. Would you like to discuss this further?

I replied to say that LB had actually been sectioned in the interim and she sent a reply about how advertising for the right person might take time and did I know when we would want the support to commence. No words. As usual.

This is where the problem lies. In Social Care Towers, it must have appeared that our particular case (one of many) was under control. A wedgey of money had been flung at it. In practice, Rich and I were cobbling together working at home, rearranging/cancelling meetings and making do. This is a privileged position which we both recognise. But not without costs and risks. And limits.

What I’ve learned is; throwing money, in the form of direct payments, at a ‘problem’, is not a solution. Money doesn’t equate to ‘support’. Money is only ‘money’ when there’s something it can be exchanged for. And really that something should be meaningful, effective and consistent. Direct payments shouldn’t equate to a ‘get out’/ ‘ignore’ clause for effective social care provision and attention.

*Gotta ‘fess up to googling the spelling of this.. it basically means (deliberately?) making understanding difficult.

 

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