Monday: Meet up with the mother of a woman with a learning disability and mental health problems who has finally moved into her own bedsit at the age of thirty plus. The mother shows me the small flat which she thinks the landlord is charging about £1000 a month for. There appears to be a complicated arrangement for paying the rent to a voluntary organisation who then pay it to a housing association who then pay the private landlord. Sounds as though he’s got quite a profitable business going there. Mother is a bit anxious as to whether her daughter’s benefits will cover the full costs. However, both mother and daughter are so far pleased with the arrangement although the visiting professional care seems to have stopped after two weeks and all ongoing support will come from the family.
Tuesday: Attend conference at the British Museum where, since retiring from social services, I am an Eye-Opener gallery guide. There are several very good presentations and I feel that my knowledge of other cultures has been really enhanced. As always, I am struck by the similarities between different societies as well as their differences – something social workers are, no doubt, increasingly aware of too.
Wednesday: Visit Community Care Live at the Business Design Centre and attend a very good workshop describing how parents and statutory services work together to improve respite care services for disabled children and their families. I’m impressed by the use of parent consultants who are paid for their work and the high standards of professionalism which seem to have been achieved and the improvements made to services.
Thursday: I take my son out for the afternoon. Although he attends a day centre for people with multiple learning disabilities four days a week, this is his free day. My sense is that staff are often stretched on these days and might find it difficult to have the time to take him out, which he loves. It’s a wet and windy day so we go off to a local shopping centre which is buzzing and very busy. He has a lot of fun. The more frantic it is there the more he enjoys it!
Friday: I do an unannounced visit to a respite care home for disabled children where I am an independent visitor. The children have all gone off to school so I spend time examining some records in detail and also have a chance to talk extensively to staff. Later I have a meeting with the development manager to discuss ways the organisation can extend opportunities to parents to participate in the delivery of the service and make their views known.
This article is published in the 21 January issue of Community Care magazine