Saturday, 15 September 2007

There and Back Again

Off to The Dukeries, place of my birth, to visit my mother, and where there will be no dragons to tame, only the Lion and the Unicorn mazes to walk.

Unicorn and Lion Pavement Mazes by Adrian Fisher at Worksop, Nottinghamshire

I was born in a small village that was a quiet farming community, close to the forests of Sherwood where Robin Hood resided. Shireoaks village, pronounced locally Shyerokes, and so written on earlier maps, was graced by Shireoaks Hall circa 1600, with a fine early water cascade feature, discernible on the old map below. The village lies on the boundary of three counties; Derbyshire, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire and an ancient large oak - the Shire Oak - is indicated on this map of around 1790.

Although a farming community, it was not a back-water, for the Chesterfield Canal ran alongside the railway, but the relatively peaceful countryside was rudely awakened by the sinking of the shaft to mine the rich coal seam around 1843 which remained working until the late 1960s.
During the 1960s my father played in the Whitwell Band, at that time sponsored by the Colliery owners, and as the Whitwell Miners Welfare Band, won the Championship competition held at the Albert Hall in London. My father was the trombone soloist and reputably his nervously knocking knees kept time with the beat of the conductor's baton. All the surrounding towns and villages in the adjoining counties of Derbyshire and Yorkshire had brass bands (composed solely of brass wind instruments) and at Whitsuntide the tradition was for many bands (up to 80 one year) to travel around the villages in the Peak District and play at each village - and down a pint or two.

Shireoaks Band circa 1912

I will be back in Dorset, my heart's home, in a week or so.


Sunday, 9 September 2007

Call to Arms

Who's Afear'd ~ not Me !

This is the coat of arms of Dorset County Council, granted to them in 1950 by the College of Arms. They got the motto from the Society of Dorset Men (not exclusive to men), to whom it was suggested by Thomas Hardy in 1905.

I am not afraid of the Dragons at the County Council. Maybe its the ongoing investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman that currently enables me to feel this; maybe it is a growing confidence that they (the corporate body) are, in my experience, blinkered public servants who are incapable of seeing beyond the edge of their (corporate) desks into the Kafka-esque abyss they are creating for the users of social services.

Certainly I know that the latest systemic steroid injection fires my brain up, clears the cognitive brain fog, boosts up the stamina and even cools down the heavy molten lead carried around my whole body, just under the surface, by the systemic erythematosus that is the inflammation of Lupus. (Be warned, a systemic steroid injection doesn't suit everybody and does not help every condition of fatigue and brain fog; certainly not CFS/ME in people I know of.)

I feel like sending a rocket up the County Council's (corporate) arse. My paternal great grandfather could have been of practical help in this, for as lifeboat coxswain, he may have had a few to spare after this ...

The nitty-gritty of the new situation I now find myself battling with Social Services, is dull to all except those directly affected, but I put it here in case there are, out there in the blogosphere, any other service users of Direct Payments.

So this is a Call to Arms to other disabled people who are users of their Local Authorities' social services department's Direct Payments scheme. Disabled people who employ their own staff for the home care and day care they are assessed by social services as needing for their health, safety and wellbeing (to use the correct wording), including assistance to attend medical appointments or in other health care settings .

We should get together, virtually, and compare experiences of problems, and their resolutions (not revolutions, yet !), and perhaps have a rocket practice so that, all over the country, local authorities get the proverbial rocket up their (corporate) arses.

The County Council are short of money for their social services budget. To (allegedly) disguise just how enormous are the budget cuts for social services, they have (allegedly) combined budgets from social services departments, libraries, adult education, community safety (sic) and health improvement (very sick), and re-named the whole damned conglomeration ' Adult Services', which now has a whacking great budget, made up of all those previously separate budgets, each having its individual budget cuts thereby disguised.

Then they (the corporate they) (allegedly) decided to grab as much of the National Health Service budget as they could get their hands on, thanks to central government encouragement to the NHS Primary Care Trusts and Local Authorities with Social Care Responsibilities to work together to deliver services.

Remember that central government has poured lots of money into health care (as it affects voters of all ages and incomes) and not very much into social care, as the not-yet-disabled voters don't think it will happen to them, so its not a vote-loosing strategy. Cynical, moi ?

So, what is new, is that now my social worker informs me that, without notice, without my consent, without consultation, without any thought to the affect of their policy change on service users, AND without adhering to Fair Access to Care criteria, Dorset social services policy is now that the service user; I, will have to get the money to pay my PA to assist me at hospital appointments, not from Dorset County Council Adult Services with whom I have entered into a contract for Direct Payments to purchase the care I need; but from the hospital I go to.

Bizarre. Not on. No way. Have they not heard of the law of contract ?!

Obviously not, so I have told them. That the County Council cannot change the terms of my contract with them without my consent, without notice, without consultation with service users, without thought that the contracts of employment that I have entered into with my employees, is founded on the Contract for Direct Payments with Dorset County Council, which guarantees the regular amounts into my DP bank account from which their salaries are paid. So that I am not liable for the money to pay my employees from my benefit income - nor from my occupational pension from Dorset County Council !

And all sorts of other contractual reasons why not, which took four typed pages to explain it to them. All the reasons the council lawyers, service managers, team leaders, social workers and jobs-worths do not appear to have considered. Telling them what they should consider. Telling them how to do their job of supporting me as a service user, to met their duty of care for my health, safety and well being.

Posted yesterdday. I feel as though I have done their job for them. Without pay.

I could be wrong. How am I to know for sure, without professional legal advice on the law of contract and employment law ? Access to which professional advice on Direct Payments should be provided to service users by the County Council. Well, I don't consider the one-man DP advisory service that I refused to use any more over three years ago, meets that remit. I refuse to have that smelly (allegedly), (in my experience), bully (in my experience), (allegedly) in my house. Yeah, that's another axe to grind another day.

All I can do is shout loudly over four typed pages how this change in Direct Payments policy will impact negatively on this service user. And refuse to accept it.

They can earn their salary now and sort it out. This has been churning away in my mind and guts for almost two weeks now, and my laptop has taken a helluva battering. Now my laptop and I need some space and peace and quiet.

Always the Jungian, this image returns to me time after time. The dragon I hold on the chain is being defeated by my positive animus; my knight in shining armour, representative of a woman's ability to deal with the world. The lady in this painting is not Afear'd.

Paulo Uccelo ~ St George and the Dragon c 1456

Even so, I need to calm down my indignant racing heart so I don't need to take any more beta-blockers to deal with the physical effects. This would be a good way to calm down ...

Odilon Redon - The Mystic Boat
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Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Problem Page

Postscript 7 September ~ This week's SHINY GOLD STAR is awarded to ELIZABETH for knowing how to sort out my plunged right hand column - oh the bravey of some, who unafraid boldly go into the raging torrent that is the template. See her comment to this post.

I didn't move my profile, links, favourite blogs, blog title lists and archives to the very depths of this page.
Blogger Did.
I have not changed my template or settings.
So Blogger must have.
Scroll down to the very deepest depths and there it all is.
Bad Blogger.

Sorry Blogger - all now restored, thanks to Elizabeth McClung, linked over on right column.

Monday, 3 September 2007

When is a Taliban Not a Taliban ?!

WHEN IT IS .... " the disability taliban ..."

Its Monday, a brain-befuddled drug down day. Not a day to go putting my nose out the door, over the parapet, into other peoples' business, or even to deal with my own affairs.
So, you would think a quiet meander through the emails would be safe. Photos from a friend; 'how are you' from others; some comments via blogger that I haven't so far been able to respond to, and the weekly update on local government matters from (which is where I get all my inside information) with a link to the Disability Rights Commission.
Gasped in astonishment when those words ~ "the disability taliban" ~ hit me in the eye. On the DRC's very own website.
(POSTSCRIPT: I can't give you the link to the relevant page on their web site for you to click on, as it is so long it messes up the template, so go to 3 w's and a dot followed by followed by a forward slash, then: journal_articles/journal_articles_august_2007.aspx)
Now I know that strictly translated the term 'taliban' means 'students of Islam', but the connotations gleaned from media coverage are a different story. And I know that the writer of the article in 'Modern Railways' who used such an inflammatory description (of those people with physical impairments who are impatient at having to wait until 2020 to get their wheelchair on a train), is probably an ignorant sexist racist misogynist disablist (allegedly) nerd, but even so, the DRC should know better.
So, I rang them. To check that what I had seen really did exist on their web site. That I wasn't over-reacting. That it was not the thing to do, really, was it, to put up that quote on their own website. Inflammatory, offensive, discriminatory, disablist.
Yup, it was a surprise to the lady on their helpline. Could I make a formal comment via their website complaints form please, so that they can investigate it.
Oh, all right then, here goes:
The DRC website page 'Journal Articles August 2007'. Under the DRC's heading 'Transport' the DRC web page refers to an article published by 'Modern Railways' august 2007 pp20-24 entitled 'New Train Tsunami Looms' and quotes on line four "... the disability taliban...".

I am offended by the connotation of taliban with the disability movement.
I 'googled' the term 'taliban' and was offered: " ... a fundamentalist militia" from wordnet.princeton, and"... made up of ardent obscurantists" (opposers of reform and enlightenment) from a Guardian newspaper article.
These descriptions largely support my, and I suspect other peoples', understanding of the term 'taliban' from media coverage. I am disabled and I try to counter disablism wherever I find it. I have two questions:
1. Do the DRC react to publications that use offensive language in describing the disability community. If this term had been used in any other media; such as during a televised discussion or news report, would it have been deemed offensive and discriminatory ?
2. Did the DRC not consider that it would be offensive to put that quotation from another source on their own website, thereby repeating and compounding the offence and seeming to leave it unchallenged as an acceptable usage of the term as a description of a particular interest group of people with impairments.

The use of the term 'taliban' as an adjective should be actively challenged by the DRC, not repeated on its own website.
Submit ? Click !

I then drew the covers back over my head and tried to go back to sleep.

I like a picture to lighten the gloom of this page, so to illustrate this I trawled the web for relevant pictures, but all that Google came up with was this:

I mean no offence to Islam, or students of Islam. Just sexist misogynists.