Thursday, 26 April 2007

Swings and Roundabouts

Today was a 'day off', but as I happily no longer have to work 9-5, it was planned as a day off from my particular daily grind. I needed to get out of the house and away from the stack of files that support my complaint about Social Services to the Local Government Ombudsman.

My P.A. was booked and it was "anyone for liquorice icecream?" and off we went ... but it rained so instead of the icecream in the farm's lovely garden, we diverted to Kingston Lacy for a pot of Earl Grey and a big slab of chocolate cake. Well, I told you I was celebrating didn't I !

"Whaaaat ?! No Earl Grey,in a National Trust tea shop. What is the world coming to. Or chocolate cake ... I blame the hordes off the tour bus ... but the cheese and chive scones were scrumptious. Once those were polished off, the rain had cleared leaving the azaleas brightly washed and the avenues of trees and acres and acres of park land a welcome freshly greened space on which to rest my weary eyes.

I had found myself a bit tearful and shaky mid-morning. What's happening here, I mused. I can do it, I have it sussed, I've coped with much worse than this. But, no, giving myself a good talking too didn't work this time... I find that even though in my head I think I am all o.k., the physical symptoms show I am not. I found that I am, actually, quite scared. Not scared of what I have done, in a regretful 'oh my god what have I done' sort of way, by contacting the Local Government Ombudsman, but scared because I know that my Lupus was triggered by the Employment Tribunal scenario. Involving the 'big guns'. Stating my case, proving my case, having my case accepted and ruled on, officially, by officials. Then becoming very ill when it was all over.

I am rambling, I have lost the plot a bit, the plot I started out with under this title. Gain some, loose some, I think. Yes, I remember ... fighting the good fight and all that, so feeling shaky about Social Services but cheered by the National Trust who have come up trumps.

Three years ago I (politely) wrote on one of their 'Suggestions and Comments' cards that their published map of the grounds, picturing routes and features, showed that their wheelchair accessible route around the parkland did not meet up with their dog walkers' route, so how was a wheelchair using dog walker, or a dog with a wheelchair using owner, going to access their facilities ? "Oh, no we hadn't thought of that" said the very helpful lady at Reception - that a wheelchair user might also have a dog. That a dog might also have a wheelchair related job to do. I heard nothing more.

Last year I requested a meeting with their Estates Manager, which was very helpful, and we did Badbury Rings as well, checking accessible gates. At Kingston Lacy they took my suggestion of a route to link the wheelchair paths to the dog walking routes, and laid a plastic heavy duty mesh as a trial. Last summer it was fine, passable in a bumpy sort of way, but the grass soon grew over it, and no one else seemed to be using it. This season, (fanfare ... ta dah ...) the route I suggested is included officially, on their published map of the grounds, as a wheelchair route and as a dog walking route, linking all up very nicely indeed ... and they are cutting, and keeping cut, a wide swathe of grass so it is visible on the ground too. Well done National Trust. I happily pay my annual subscription to the National Trust to have this safe haven where I can trundle along whenever I need some peace, space and calm.

I returned home to find a hand written note pushed through my letter box. I give it in full, so you can get the full effect:

Dorset County Council


Dear Sally

So sorry to have missed you today.

I was looking forward to catching up on old times with you.

It seems ages since I saw you.

With best wishes

H..... (B....)

This from the big boss lady at Social Services, who had written two weeks ago asking if she could "... pop by, just for a chat ..." My response had been "read the 20 page letter sent yesterday to (your underling)." That was the letter in which I had stated I was frightened, anxious, exhausted, unable to cope with any more stressful meetings.

The only contact I have had with this big boss lady in seven years was when (1) she visited me at home to persuade me not to act to protect disabled people from being manipulated (allegedly) by a paid outreach worker at the charity I was a trustee of, which charity was part funded by social services, so they had a legal responsibility, (2) when I expressed an interest in addressing the lack, in this county, of an advocacy service for physically disabled people of working age (which fell on stony ground), and (3) when she was called in by another 'Community' organisation to stop me going to the police about the male (alleged) 'stalker' from whom they had not (alledgedly) protected his targetted single female wheelchair users (including me), preferring (allegedly) to quietly let the community initiative dissolve (allegedly), wasting (allegedly) thousands of pounds (I saw the accounts) of public funding (allegedly).

Well, would you have felt intimidated by the big boss lady from social services wanting to chat about old times, in these circumstances ? I am, and I was unable to stand when I read it, literally, so I know that this is having a serious physical effect on me.

So I wrote ....

" ... your wish to visit me at home, for a "chat" feels intimidating and inappropriate, when I have had enormous difficulty getting a professional and timely response to my disability needs under Fair Access to Care criteria. Yours sincerely"

.... and drove off (before the beta blockers had taken effect) to post it in time for the 5.30 am collection at the main post office, so it will arrive on her desk in the morning.

So that I can now relax ... and take the neuro toxic drug MTX this weekend, knowing that when brain be-fogged and mood-depressed, I should be safe from anything that is likely to, metaphorically or literally, rise up and attack me.

This is what we, we crips, we bloggers, do, when we need a hug. We blog. Dammit

This too will pass.

EDIT: This is the second installment of the SocS saga. This first installment is here and also labelled SocS under older posts. Yes it has been going on for some time.

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Blogger Charlesdawson said...

It might be as well, if she does visit you at home (highly inappropriate in view of the official complaint) to refuse to speak with her unless you have a reliable witness.

Paranoid? Maybe. But precautions are the cheapest way to prevent damage. To your health and to the process of complaint.

Friday, 27 April 2007 at 12:47:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Thanks Charles, we - (them and me) have now entered firmer territory, where my past employment law experience is relevant - and I recognise harassment when I see it, and She would be extremely foolish (or arrogant) to attempt anything further. That would be so blatant it would warranty a further complaint !

I have, have always had, my GP on side, writing a letter of support as we 'speak', using the same words she wrote in 2004 - "avoid all sources of stress" and "no stressful meetings".

Its the years and years of stress that take their toll physically ... but the effect of blogging, and the comments of blogging friends, blocks any slight tendency to paranoia - we know we are right and we know they are incompetent.

What really really gets me positively steaming angry - is that they are paid professional salaries to look after our interests ... and its the volunteers such as you, and the service users, such as we, who suffer 24/7, while they leave their desk on a Friday and get to go home, able bodied, and leave it all behind them.

Well, I hope this weekend She and all her colleagues, have indigestion, nightmares, colic, collywobbles and the shakes; indicators they can no ignore that actually they have well and truly f----d it up this time. Like all the other times.

I can rant like this today, safe at home, but I can't go out ... feeling a bit fragile.

Friday, 27 April 2007 at 13:30:00 BST  
Blogger seahorse said...

Fighting the fight really takes it out of you, and it can leave you feeling very angry that such precious energy has to be expended on getting what you are entitled to.
I am all of a sudden three assessments closer to...what I'm quite not sure. But three assessments in one week? All because I suddenly found it in me to do some straight talking and one letter. Now suddenly they are queueing up to be seen to be doing a job of sorts. I share your knackeredness and add to it bewilderment and fear. Who are these people? Why so many of them? After reading your posts I am getting myself an advocate and I will ask my service if they can find a contact for you. I feel strengthened and enlightened by your words. And you get a huge hug filled with respect and understanding ((((((Sally)))))))

Friday, 27 April 2007 at 19:02:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Oh bless you Seahorse, I am so glad you are getting a reaction leading to assessments, and its good to know you can get advocacy - just so long as they know what they are doing, and are trained professionals, voluntary or paid, so long as they are trained and up to speed.
Re assessments - they are the first stage, after that you will be assigned a priority for funding ... that is their (whoever they are) 'get-out' clause for not actually doing anythign once you are assessed, except put your assessment in/on/under the pile, so make sure you are assigned highest priority for their current year's funding budget.
Good luck and thank you again.

Friday, 27 April 2007 at 19:42:00 BST  
Blogger seahorse said...

Good sound advice. I am learning fast, and your posts and encouragement have played a big part in me getting moving on things. I think I was in a state of mental paralysis and apathy whilst in my former relationship, whereas now I know I should be looking after myself better. I'm really looking forward to BADD, just to be able to express how much blogging means. Thank you.

Friday, 27 April 2007 at 22:00:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Also, when we live alone (especially if we have responsibility for a child) social services have a greater responsibility to ensure our safety and well being - when we live with someone else, that someone else is deemed to be responsible for ensuring all is o.k. Now, to me, that is almost as bad as being a chattel, but that is how it is, and may explain why you are getting a better response now you are single. From my WAV to my home help, all come from being single.

Also, (!) have a look at my link on the right panel to last year's BADD contributions, they were inspirational to me.

Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 10:12:00 BST  
Blogger Ol Rocky said...

I once had anice friendly cheery Case Managler whom visited me at home, and went back and told apack of lies.
When she visisted again I rather angrily ran he roff my property.

Case Managlers and we now meet only with advocates present.
In rooms of our choice, nasty person that I am

Who objects to meetings in chemical fume, or as they say "Smelly" filled rooms!
chemical sensitivity and brain injury and all that!

However as I grow older, older than most surviving chemcially sensitive people, I find myslef also becomming more and more emotional.

I should ahve taken up smoking years ago I am sure I'd be in much better shape now!

BIG HUGS and BEST WISHES adn ahng in their gerl

From a toothless wrinkly bald old fart, his wife and six kids

Wat causes miles of stess and problems for "them"

Just by not being how they have rewritten my file as to how in their opinion I should be!

Sumtinlike that anyhows!

Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 13:31:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Hello again Ol Rocky - nice to have you visit, you haven't been around for a while.

I love the phrase/act "ran her off my property" which has a feeling of the old ranch about it ... in our little English village, its just a case of not answering the door ! Or the phone !

There are good and bad case managers, and many would benefit from a bit/a ton of self awareness counselling, to see just how much of negative stuff in their own lives, they are expressing through their interaction with their clients.

I think that becoming more emotional as one gets older, for me at least, is partly more fragile because becoming more dependent on services, but also no longer afraid to be consciously aware and connect with just how bad the situation is.

Thank you for your hugs and best wishes, you wrinkly old fart :-)with a wonderful wife and six kids, and very best wishes and keep on keeping on, and blogging and commenting.

Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 14:10:00 BST  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Wasn't thinking so much of harassment or intimidation (which they must by now have realised would be very stupid), more of misrepresentation - of you, of what you are saying or agreeing to. Best to have backup on this.

Kingston Lacy is a lovely place, I went once when I could still climb stairs and saw the house (not all then open to the public alas) and a few years ago to just the grounds and saw the domestic offices that were open to the public and the shop, bought some plants.

Another pleasant place is Chettle House, do you know it? Again, AFAIK, no w/ch access to most of the house but nice grounds, not very extensive.

Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 18:49:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

You are of course right Charles, but over the years it has been hard to find backup - only truly independent organisations like CAB can be called upon, provided they have people who know the social care legislation; others have not wanted to get involved when part of their funding comes from SocS.
Kingston Lacy - we have discussed this before, and I mentioned KL have two wheelchair open days, with 1:12 ramps into the downstairs, from the garden terrace, on days when the house is not open to others, and its wonderful, there is hardly anyone there.
So, if you are brave enough to risk the chance of happening across Sally in the library, or sat entranced in front of the Sebastiano del Piombo, don't let it pass unvisited.
Chettle: yes, I love the shape of it and went into it years ago when I could access it, and they used to have plant sales, but I don't do crowds anymore.
We are fortunate in this lovely bit of England. Two big green woodpeckers digging in the ant nest in the garden this morning.

Sunday, 29 April 2007 at 11:19:00 BST  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Shame about the crowds, otherwise I would have recommended Stapehill Abbey Gardens and also Cranborne Manor Garden Centre - both very pleasant. And accessible.

Sunday, 29 April 2007 at 19:19:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

You are talking to someone who has lived in Dorset for 21 years ! so I know these places, (and when they are likely to be less crowded) and its really disconcerting that you do too !!!
As I have said before, Dorset is a very small town.

Sunday, 29 April 2007 at 20:41:00 BST  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Well, how about Bournemouth Upper Gardens, then?

PS - the word recognition, at second time of asking, was "fkkew". Same to you, blogger!

Monday, 30 April 2007 at 17:24:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Bournemouth ! I can happily say that I have only visited Bournemouth twice in the last nine years of ill health - to the Russell Cotes museum and to the Labour Party Conference (as a lobbyist (unofficial)), after which I chatted to John Snow in the Lower Gardens. He is very polite in a non-condescending way and very tall, especially when one is sat down.
I hereby close this list of comments (cos its BADD), as I know you will, inevitably, get the better of me.

Monday, 30 April 2007 at 19:06:00 BST  

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