I have just received a hand delivered copy of my third social services review. I'd like to thank Nottinghamshire County Council for meeting my request to have a copy before I leave for Stanmore on Sunday night. It is very much appreciated. What isn't appreciated is the stinking pile of bulls**t that was contained in the envelope. That might sound harsh but stick with me and you'll see what I mean.
On the whole the social workers conveyed my situation pretty well. There were a few minor errors, they got my GP name and address wrong, they got the ages of my children wrong, but it was generally a pretty good picture of my life and my needs.
It's what they did with that information that is the problem. They ignored every word of it and plucked numbers out of thin air then signed off on it. My fate is sealed. They have (not) considered the facts and decided that my needs can be met with 23 hours a week support. That is a decrease of 9 hours per week.
This is the breakdown:
(click to make it bigger)
I am allowed 10 hours a week to deal with my person care needs and meal prep, which is pretty much accurate. After that things get a little crazy.
I am allowed 4 hours per week for domestic support. If anyone knows how I can do 14 loads of laundry in 1.5 hours I'd really like to know! Ditto with the cleaning. I have three children. If you have children you will know the cleaning never really ends. You are constantly picking things up, wiping things down and mopping up the mud from the kitchen floor when your little darlings come running in from the garden and forget to take their shoes off, again, desipte you telling them every single day of their lives.
In the review I mentioned my health had been bad recently so I ordered the supermarket shopping online. Social Services have now decided I don't have to go to the supermarket ever again and I can only spend 1 hour a week of my budget paying someone to help me put my internet order away. There is no contingency for nipping to the shop to replace that weird substitution they always bring, or the thing that was out of stock, or to allow for when one of the kids drinks all the milk or the bread goes mouldy a day before it's sticker date. I guess those things never happen to social workers.
At least I'm not a prisoner in my own home. I'm allowed to leave my house and access the community for 2 whole hours a week! Aren't I the lucky one? Wait, that's about the amount of time it takes to deal with my medical appointments. I guess I'll not be making it to knit and natter any time soon then :(
The best part of this joke (it is a joke, right?) is the amount of parenting support they have allocated me. 5 hours a week to take my children to school, and half that amount during the school holidays. Nothing more. Nothing to help with the games my children want to play, the visits to the park to play with their friends, the birthday parties at friends houses after school, the library visits. Nothing to help with the arguments and tantrums, nothing to give me a little respite when I'm ill and need to rest so I don't burn out before teatime. Nada. Zilch. It's not enough to cover the costs of my very reasonably priced childminder. Would you do 10 school runs for £34.13 a week? No, and I don't know anyone who would, well apart from social services because the manager totally agreed with this farsical review.
I don't think the social workers have children. If they did they would know it's a twenty four hour job and kids always seem to know when you're exhausted by playing up even more than usual. I love my kids, they are generally well behaved but they have their moments and I need a little support to be able to be a good parent to them. Obviously social services don't appreciate this at all.
At least they gave me 2 hours contingency for getting my children to medical appointments, especially considering my daughter has glasses, my youngest son has asthma and all three showing potential signs of having the same condition as me. Unfortunately I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome too late to receive genetic counselling. When I conceived my children I had a diagnosis of ME/CFS, there was a chance I would recover and I was reassured that I wouldn't pass it on to them.
I hate having to ask social services for help, I hate asking for help with anything but the eligibility criteria says I am entitled to support to live independently. The 30 hours a week package I have in place is working very well, my staff are under contract and meet all my needs most of the time. If it ain't broke why fix it? Because Nottinghamshire County Council have to save money and it's easier to punish the disabled and infirm than look at ways to conserve resources and be efficient in their business.
I can't accept this review. The council's complaints team are already taking it to the next level and I shall be contacting my MP because this budget doesn't even come close to meeting my needs and I'm not going to let them get away with it.