Choice and control

LB gets direct payments to cover the cost of four hours care a week. Direct payments were introduced to enable “service users” [people] to buy their own care support and services. It’s all about giving service users choice and control in creating a “care package” [support] that is tailored to their needs. So far so good…

The local “care provider” [company] that is somehow hooked into the local authority contacted me to say that LB was down on their list for a residential holiday.  When his case had gone to “panel” [no idea] a few months ago, his care package was increased to 4 hours a week plus a residential holiday. Oh. Ok. What kind of holiday? Five days at an activity centre in Swindon. I wrote the cheque.

Choice? Now that’s a funny one. Choice really means a choice of two or more things. If you’ve only got the choice of one thing and nothing, it ain’t really a choice. It’s a yes or no thank you. I’d already googled and failed to find any available holiday for LB, so, residential holiday in Swindon or no residential holiday? Yes please. But lets not pretend there’s a choice involved here.

The holiday starts today. The company have been in touch a few times about arrangements, LB turned down the meet and greet opportunity and he’s being picked up this afternoon. Between 1.30-3.30pm according to the paperwork. Then a call late yesterday afternoon;

“Hi Sara, just to let you know, I should be with you around 5pm tomorrow to pick up LB…”
5pm? Eh?  Why so late? What if we’d made plans? Why cut corners?
“Oh, great! Thanks!!! LB is really looking forward to it. See you then. Bye!!!”

Control? Not really. Not when you are handing over your dude to their care for four nights and five days. And what about LB? Does he have any choice in all of this? Not really. He’s been muttering but ain’t called in his legal team yet. I suspect he’s just hoping for a few Stobarts on the M4.


The cone of shame

Today I’m wearing the cone of shame. And it’s only 10.15am.

The direct payments police came round to ‘help’ me with my returns.

Now what does this mean? Direct payments? Returns? This… for those of you who are not familiar with this area, is about our CARE PACKAGE.  LB gets funding to cover the combination of services he is assessed to need.  So we get this funding in a dedicated bank account, use it to pay for someone to look after LB, and have to fill in forms accounting for what is spent, the interest earned and so on.

This is the bit I’ve failed on.

And this is why I’ve spent the last hour sitting at the kitchen table while some man in a suit has filled in the forms for me, while glaring LOSER at me every few seconds.  After highlighting the bits I have to sign with an enormous yellow highlighter pen AND a big biro cross, we are done.

“Oh, just one more thing Sarasiobhan, you loser”, he said. “You need to take out employer liability insurance. It’s £99 a year”.  Another form. Another swipe with the highlighter pen AND a big biro cross.

It’s over.

I walk him to the door.  “You do realise our care package is for four hours care a month?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“That is £40 a month.”

“Yes,” he said, and walked over to his car.


I shut the door and go to file the paperwork neatly.

Postscript: I made that last sentence up.