It was LB’s community team meeting at lunchtime today. He’d refused the farm so talk turned to finding him something to do instead of school. My brain nearly melted.
How can we be in this position of “finding him something to do“? Not just him. Any young learning disabled person? How can we be talking in these terms? Where’s the aspiration? The opportunities? Ironically of course, giving LB choice is an effective way of erasing aspiration from his life; he will choose to stay in bed, watch DVDs and eat loads of cake.
I walked back from the meeting, head reeling. I’d mentioned that we have given thought to LB’s longer term plans (of course), we have got a folder full of residential college brochures that the county council will never fund, we know that local college provision is crap, and that leaves, er, direct payments. Which is where we started.
How can provision be this crap?
Well the walk to the unit kind of (but not really) sheds some light on that question. A 25 minute walk through a local estate to the ring road where the site is. I thought, funnily enough along the way, how this location reflects the status of learning disabled people in society. How much learning disability provision is located on the margins, at the edges of towns and cities? Winterbourne View was on an industrial estate. Leominster day centre is literally next to the dump.
A very recent indication of this status is evident in the endless discussion and jokes in the media, and social media, about the ‘swivel eyed loon’ comment, with barely any reflection on the offensiveness of this comment. It’s almost as if people don’t see it…. because really, and maybe subconsciously, they don’t see learning disabled people as fully human.
I got home and had an email from the Care Manager. I’d chased her up this morning about arranging a meeting to talk about LB’s future plans. She’d emailed me a couple of months ago to say that when someone is about to leave the unit, they have a Care Plan Approach (CPA) meeting to discuss what is going to happen.
Her email said it was being held on June 10th. In less than three weeks time.
Turned out the invitation had been emailed to various professionals last week with a note at the bottom saying:
Please let me know if anyone else should be invited to this meeting.
No words. Just tears of frustration and rage and despair.