Yesterday I got home about 7pm. I rang the unit to ask if LB wanted me to visit that evening or today. I don’t feel I have to see him every day, but I like him to know that we’re around.
The staff passed LB the phone and I asked him the question.
“Today“, he said, straightaway.
“Are you sure?” I asked,one eye on a bottle of wine chilling in the fridge.
“Today, Mum, today“, was the firm answer.
When I turned up at the unit, the staff were surprised to see me. He’d given the phone back to them and said I wasn’t coming. Funny. Or is it?
The unit team have produced a communication care plan for LB which is stuck on his bedroom wall. The first objective is;
- The family need to phone if they want to come. If LB doesn’t want them to come, staff to suggest to try again on a different day.
The Department of Health only days ago published a joint statement with various partners about post-Winterbourne care for learning disabled people, which included a recognition of the learning disabled people in other NHS-funded hospital care. A commitment was made in the Winterbourne View concordat “to ensure that by 1 June they will all have had their care reviewed and a personal care plan developed, built around their particular needs, taking into account the views of their family carers”. [italics added]
Now, these things (as usual) ain’t rocket science, but I would have thought LB’s communication care plan could have started with any one of a billion objectives that would support and facilitate his communication with others. Starting with this one is kind of problematic to me, as it sets us up as a problem, or an obstruction to LB’s development. An issue that emerged in the very early unit days. Given that only a few months ago, LB was a typical teenager, living with his family, I’m not sure what sense he makes of it, which may be why he told the staff I wasn’t coming, having told me I should. The communication plan is on fire, clearly.
But then, as with most of these things, there is a helluva lot of talking the talk, but little walking the walk. It doesn’t matter what grand statements are made at the top, if they ain’t going to translate into practice. And the irony is, I/we/carers are forced to become ‘problematic’ to try to get some walking done.