Revolution: nearly, soon, truly, yes; I think so.
In these short winter days when grey clouds add to the gloom as early as 3 pm, and the Christmas tree is blocking my access to the filing cabinet, printer and the 'to do' tray, I can prolong the holiday and continue to feed the senses. Food, drink, friends, old films; all are now a surfeit. So this today is Alone Time; now my Bump is back in her own neck of the woods, and I turn to music and poetry and prose. However, my brain nudged me to say that the next thing ought to be making sense of the events of the last few months. I have been, am still, afraid of the situation with Dorset County Council social services department. That fear used up my brain capacity, used up physical energy, depleted me.
Over the holiday when I have put aside everything labelled 'work', unbeknown to me, my brain has been working away at understanding my situation; working away much as the hard drive on the laptop does after an upgrade. Leave it with nothing to do for a while, and it sorts stuff, unbeknown, unbidden; just does it. When I next turn it on; the laptop and the brain, its slightly different, and working better. So, when I chose to feed the senses by reading some poetry, in a roundabout way, my reading of FSJL has made sense of my scary connection with Dorset County Council's social services department and my request to the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate what I believe is their maladministration of my need for equipment and adaptations for my physical and cognitive impairments.
This revolution is very subtle and many service users may not yet have been touched by it, or not recognise it for what it is. Older, time served, service users are more likely to notice the revolution than younger or recent service users who may see it, correctly, in the light of what they would expect in this day and age.
(NB: if you do not think of yourself as a Service User; think again. Is it because you don't think you qualify for services; or social services department have told you you don't qualify for services? Think again, and get advocacy to challenge it. If you are not managing your day to day life (year to year ?!) or are isolated or excluded, or unhappy with the circumstances of your dis-abled life in any way, you are entitled to funding to get the equipment, services, and aids to social inclusion that you do need, Yes You Do. There is more to service provision that unpaid family and friends !)
Hints of the coming revolution are to be found in the Assessment of Need carried out by social services. Yes, 'carried out' by social services. Still the direction from central government seems to be worded to suggest that local government social services departments still have the power. But be encouraged: social services departments have to consult and discuss with the service user as an equal stakeholder on this Assessment. Stake your claim to this all you Holders of Stakes out there. The Assessment of Need is now NOT determined by social services staff, but as a temporary stage in this revolution, the subject, sorry, the service user has an equal say in the determination of the need. Finally, service users of social services will themselves wholly and independently with advocacy as needed, state their own assessment of their own needs. We will, in this revolution, I hope have as much clout and power in our voices and votes, as others in our communities have in the local politics of education provision, roads and highways, waste collection, police and ambulance and other essential services.
Stay with me here please; I am not a scholar and what threads and similarities are seen here by me, between FSJL's political analysis and my experience of changes in Dorset County Council's social services department, and social care throughout the country; may not be apparent in this blogged comparison.
One of FSJL's points is that colonial rule led to education which enabled the populace to gain knowledge to understand their situation and fight, in words and action, to end the colonial governing of their lives and therefore to determine their own future and way of life. (Deep apologies to FSJL if this explanation detracts from his sophisticated writing on his subject.)
What we 'dis-abled' people lack is knowledge; of our rights, of legislation that provides for our rights. How often have established bloggers in the world of crip bloggers, come across a new crip blogger who is starting out on the same road that we have travelled (perhaps in a different time zone) and that new crip blogger is struggling with the same issues, blocks to services, outmoded and disgraceful attitudes from service providers. We welcome them, encourage and hold them in our hearts and minds; we tell them of our experiences, ways we found to get the essential services we needed; what words to write on the mountains of forms applying for basic funds and equipment.
All people ... who become dis-abled from social inclusion by whatever eventuality and currently find themselves dependent on a system left over from a paternalistic, charity-minded, workhouse ethic orientated, bureaucracy ... need education. This system may be changing.
But directives from UK central government to local government social services departments is not enough. Education of services users is needed. Crip Education. So that we know what they should be doing. So that we know when they are doing it wrong. So that we know how to deal with them when they get it wrong wrong wrong, without making ourselves ill, physically or psychologically, in the process. Knowledge is power.
But not every person who is or becomes dis-abled has the capacity; of time, health, energy, or confidence, to gain and use such knowledge. Then there is a place for a caring society to support them. Which is not the same as looking after them paternalisitically with charity and 'we know best' service provision.
So, quietly, without newspaper headlines, and even without very much discernible difference yet in our quality of life, there is change. The Revolution has begun.
Update: Just before the Christmas holiday, the Local Government Ombudsman Investigator emailed me with an apology for the lengthy time it is taking for him to investigate my claim of maladministration by Dorset County Council social services department. I am content that his comments show my claim is being investigated thoroughly and that the LGO investigation is doing what I could not do alone.