Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Where have all the flowers gone...

One of the issues discussed at pain clinic was that of support, or more accurately lack of support from Social Services and Occupational Therapists. The latest blog from Dr Grumble talks about this issue from the viewpoint of 'bed blockers' and the halfway houses that are needed to sort out this problem. It's a good post, go and read it. Done? Ok then...

The reason Dr Pain is interested in things like benefits and OT's is that they play a vital role in enabling people to cope. Unfortunately, in reality the denial of benefits, equipment or care packages plays a vital role in increasing the pressure upon the already over subscribed and underfunded hidden parts of the NHS like pain clinics or physiotherapy.

Social Services departments have a duty to meet people's needs. In relation to disability or older people those needs are primarily physical, things like someone to help with food preparation, or taking medication. In practice what tends to happen is that local authorities through their social workers or OT's refuse to accept those needs, as, if they don't identify the need they don't have to do anything about it.

Dr Pain wanted to know what kind of services I was receiving, but was not surprised to hear that I don't receive any. I pay my wonderful carer privately. It's an absolute pittance compared to the value of the support she provides me. My last assessment from Social Services resulted in the loss of my entire care package as the Social Worker refused to accept that dislocating constantly meant I needed any support. I'm incredibly lucky to have someone in my life who cares enough about me to want to provide care regardless of financial recompense.

I'd previously been assessed by OT's from the local authority. At a time when I was desperately ill and underweight the hope was that they would provide some equipment to make my life easier. They wouldn't. I was assessed for a bath lift, but refused one on the grounds that I was too disabled. The OT's felt my hips might dislocate whilst using the bath lift and that would mean they, and the local authority would be liable should I have an accident. Home carer's are rightly not allowed to lift people in and out of the bath so that was another solution out. The OT's wanted to provide me with a perching stool so I could strip wash at the sink. That conveniently ignored the medical problems with body temperature and venous pooling so wasn't a solution either. Eventually I was offered a bathing service once a week in a GP's surgery some 20 minutes drive away.

Being me I turned down that option and learned how to get in and out of the bath whilst dislocating. It wasn't safe but under the circumstances seemed like the only way to go. Bathtime usually involved being on the phone to someone once I was in the water as that way should I have an accident the person on the end of the phone could call for help. Like I said, it wasn't safe.

I was at one point offered a bed raiser by the OT. These go under the mattress and help people to get out of bed. I was offered it until the OT looked at my bed, saw it was the slatted wooden type and that was the end of the bed raiser. They don't work safely on slatted beds so instead of solving that problem the piece of equipment was denied. Again, being me I learned to fall half out of bed, let all my joints dislocate whilst I still had my upper body on the mattress and stay there until I was stable enough to get up. Probably not very safe either, unless it was compared to my bathing method.

I explained all this to Dr Pain and said that I no longer wanted anything to do with the local authority as all they do is refuse assistance and create stress. I wouldn't want to get Dr Pain into trouble, so all I'll say is that from the look on his face he hears that same story over and over again.

Not everyone is as stupidstubborn as I am. I'm not really sure how I learned to functionally dislocate because that time is all thankfully blurry, but learn I did and I'm glad for it. At least until the time for joint replacements rolls round. Disabilities vary just as much as the rest of us, so for the majority of people once services or equipment have been refused there's nothing they can do about it. In that situation it doesn't take long for a fall to happen, or illness contracted due to poor nutrition and living standards. Which is when people end up in hospital.

And there they stay, because they can't be sent home to the same lack of equipment or services. Hospital beds cost alot of money. Money spent on keeping relatively well patients in beds because another part of the welfare state refuses to fund mostly vastly less expensive care packages or equipment.

Only a politician could set up such a stupid system then be able to manipulate people into believing it's the fault of the doctors, nurses, social workers or OT's. It's not, it's the fault of the politicians, regardless of party, but by the time the general public wake up to that it'll be too late.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its all more of the same rubbish, "survival of the fittest" New World Order type crap.

...do anything we can to weed out the less productive members of society so the ruling "elite" dont need to be "disturbed" or "bothered" by it, while at the same time pulling the wool over the general publics eyes by saying "look at our wonderful system we have in place!!"

What a load of bullsh.t...

Keep spreading the word, its the only way to truly open peoples eyes to the mess our society is in!

Lankylonglegs said...

How true, if the powers that be had their way the likes of Sir Steven hawking would have been "kindly left to die" without support or assistance!
They hassle you to go to work, yet deny you the basic help to get you there.

Anonymous said...

You can use an inflatable Mattress Genie on a slatted bed. If you have a bedstead-and-slatted type and the Genie might slip down the gap (a reasonable concern) you can get them to lash a net of paracord between the bedstead and the bedbase. Paracord is nonslip and safe. We have this on our bed (c-spine quad).

They're cheaper than the other kind (about £100) so you might have some luck if you write directly to your PCT and copy the letter to your MP and GP.

allnottinghambasearebelongtous said...

Brilliant piece of writing BG, seriously harrowing to read.

Kirst said...

BG, I'm an OT and I'm embarrassed to read this post. If I was your OT, you'd have a bath lift, we'd be talking about a wet-floor shower, and you'd have a mattress elevator suitable for your bed - they do exist. I'm sorry you got a poor service.