Outsmarting abusive carers

For Chris Charters, removing a client from his abusers defined his vocation - but he is careful before donning the red cape

The best and worst decisions I’ve made: For Chris Charters, removing a client from his abusers defined his vocation – but he is careful before donning the red cape

The Best

As a care manager, I often feel that I simply push bits of paper around and ration increasingly meagre resources to those in most need and at higher risk. So the thought that I might have made a positive tangible difference to a person’s life – the reason I did the training – is something in which I still take professional pride years later.

I had been unable to assess a client due to the abusive nature of his carers as they prevented him speaking for himself. I finally got the chance to make the assessment when he went to hospital and found he lacked mental capacity to make decisions on care or finance.

I found an advocate, arranged residential care and hid his location from the “carers” who swore at me down the phone. This didn’t bother me that much, particularly because I knew the police were investigating them for financial abuse as a result of evidence I had provided. They were both given suspended sentences in the court hearing that followed.

The client thrived in residential care and never asked about his “carers”.

I never heard from them again but often wondered whether I would drive past them doing their community service. The temptation to beep the horn might have been too much.

The worst

Early in my career a client in a residential respite unit had advanced dementia. Due to his challenging behaviour, they decided they could no longer manage him. Trying to solve all the world’s problems, I donned the red cape and away I flew.

I spent a lot of time that day arranging a different placement for him in a nursing dementia unit; checked with the family, the home, completed my assessment, and arranged for the family to transfer him that day. I could leave at 4pm, satisfied with a job well done.

Oops. I had commissioned the most expensive care available, ignoring the processes and an assessment from a nurse to agree NHS funding.

Quite new to the role, wanting to make a good impression and now spending public money quite improperly. I felt very small indeed. That was it: my card was marked. I was so worried I wanted to write a cheque for the additional expense should the nurse assessment indicate an unnecessary placement.

After a nervy few days awaiting the assessment and keeping a beady eye on the fax machine, it arrived. Phew! He was in the right band of care, the NHS would pay for its bit and I had lived to place another day.

I had a long supervision about process, protocol and funding. I learned the lesson of not doing it all myself from a supportive manager – and I could joke about it with him afterwards.

Chris Charters is a care manager for Westminster Council, employed through Bluecare recruitment agency, an HCL company

This article is published in the 15 April 2010 edition of Community Care magazine under the headline Outsmarting Abusive Carers Gave me the Most Pride

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