The Simon Heng Column – A service user’s view of social care

    “Professional boundaries might be important to you, but they are
    not to service users,” health minister Stephen Ladyman told
    Community Care Live last month.

    Well, yes, but a constant moan of disabled people has been that,
    when one’s needs are complex and responsibility for meeting those
    needs crosses the boundaries of health, social services and
    housing, communication between the organisations has often been
    creaky and time-consuming. Which has meant that we have had to wait
    for decisions about urgently needed services and equipment.

    This has led to protracted discussions about which organisation is
    responsible for provision. The standing joke (well out of date by
    now, I hope) is whether somebody needed a “medical bath” (for
    health reasons) or a “social bath” (to feel “normal”). And the
    arguments seemed to be even fiercer over the provision of
    equipment. Recently in my area, equipment has been provided by a
    jointly managed service.

    When the minister calls for new thinking about adult services,
    amalgamating adult care into community health services is one
    option. Who could argue with a seamless service with fewer,
    time-consuming decision-making points?

    Well, me, for one. It takes all of these organisations to enable me
    to survive independently. It also took several professional
    viewpoints to help me construct my life completely. I have needed
    the medical perspective to ensure I stay physically healthy, but I
    have also needed the social work perspective, in particular the
    social model of disability, to help me think about how I structure
    my life.

    There are many honourable exceptions among the community health
    professionals, but it seems that the pressure within the health
    services to provide scarce, expensive resources, such as
    physiotherapy or medication, makes provision resource-led rather
    than person-centred.

    I would like assurance that the social work perspective will not be
    lost. For me it can make the difference between living and merely
    existing.

    Simon Heng is a service user

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