Monday, April 18, 2011

The Queen And The Soldier


Well, my chilled out mood after such a wonderful weekend has lasted me til precisely 3pm on monday. I've gone from all happy and relaxed to ragingly, impotently furious after going to visit my old carer and her family. G worked for a home care company, which is how I first met her, at the bleakest, darkest time of my life she was a true carer - she loved me better with every wipe of her cloth. G is still a carer, but she's retired from the home care company. Now she cares full time for her beloved husband T.

G & T are a proud couple and rightly so. They've worked hard all their lives, paid tax and national insurance, raised their children who are now all adults working and with families of their own. T served his country for more than 25 years before retiring from the Army and working for another decade or so in the private sector. T has a degenerative neurological condition called cerebellar ataxia which one of the shittiest of all the shitty ways there are to die; it's long, drawn out and the person remains fully aware of what's happening to them to the very end.

Although T does receive DLA, it took a protracted fight to get his lifetime award. But, despite all that service to his country, T does not receive any other support than that provided by G and the family. Having worked as a carer G has seen the best and worst of social care, and would never countenance that happening to T. Past experiences of social services assessments meant the refusal to provide the practical support they really need, like someone to come in for a few hours so she can go out, coupled with the insistence that they should have inappropriate equipment leaving G so traumatised she understandably refuses to take that route.

When last assessed, Social Services were adamant that G & T should approach SSAFA who do a sterling job of providing support to those with previous military service. SSAFA would undoubtedly help out, but T refuses to allow it. SSAFA is a form of charitable support, which he considers to be not for 'the likes of him' whereas support from the local authority is something he has directly paid for and therefore acceptable as it's not charity.

G & T aren't the victims of this round of cuts. Far from it, this situation was happening long before the Coalition government came to power. However, G & T are symbolic of the situation countless families up and down the country find themselves in, trapped between various bureacratic agencies each pushing responsibility onto the other while those in need go without.

As G & T's youngest daughter wisely remarked today, the decision to cut Disability Living Allowance is unconscionable because DLA is already the cheapest way of funding these kind of care needs.

2 comments:

e said...

A sad testimonial regarding a broken system which it seems, no one in government cares about fixing...

Anonymous said...

Your friend 'T' should really consider approaching the British Legion for help, as well as SSAFA.

As an ex-soldier who is now disabled, I also refused the idea of 'Charity'.

In the end, it was realising how much my wife and family were suffering due to my stubborness, that made me go to see them.

Your friends' husband will find, as I did, that he will be treated with courtesy and respect. A lot of the staff are ex-forces and they know how hard life can be for some, they do it precisely so that other ex-servicemen can benefit from their knowledge.. There is no shame involved at all. That is what they are there for..

Please, please, get your friend to go along, if nothing else he will be in company that understands and will do everything they can possibly to do help.

Cheers

Jim