Tuesday, 15 January 2008

15Jan08 - Social Services

We had a visit today from Social Services. There is still a stigma attached to having a social worker which associates them with social problems, broken families and abused children. I guess I felt that in some way we were going to be judged on how we were coping and if Lucy was receiving adequate care. I am proud of what we have achieved so far as a family and the thought of somebody scrutinising that and/or giving advice when they have no experience of it themselves made me apprehensive. We have had a couple of previous visits and the questions asked we felt at the time probed unnecessarily deeply into Lucy's start in life, the causes and her condition. Dawn was made to yet again recount in traumatic detail the first days and weeks of Lucy's life when really all this information should have been available in Lucy's notes. At the time I felt that the only relevant information was Lucy's current condition and requirements. With hindsight I realise that it was important for Lucy's history to be recorded by this service to enable them to fully appreciate our circumstances. It is unfortunate that there is not more coordination between all the services as this could save parents having to retell their story over and over again to an ever growing list of proffessionals. The original assessment was to establish if there was any help we needed that social services could provide to us as a family. We stressed that we were OK with the every day care side of things but we needed support to allow us some respite, particularly to give Joshua more of our time. We explained that we do not have a large family and friends support network and that particularly as Lucy gets older we will struggle to find anybody to look after her. As a result of this we were given the equivalent of three hours a week direct payments. This means that money is paid into a separate bank account to enable us to employ somebody to come and help out with Lucy for three hours a week. Although three hours isn't a lot it was a start but as yet we have not done anything about it because we don't really know what to do with the three hours or how to find somebody that we trust with Lucy and would be willing to work for such a short time.
Todays visit was from a different social worker who has had Lucy added to her case load. She just wanted to introduce herself and follow up on the previous meetings we have had. We had a long chat about Lucy but it was focused on how she could help us as a family. She was quite sensitive to the fact that a lot of people are reluctant to ask for help, especially from social services. We told her that what we really need was a regular break and going forward more help with Lucy especially at times when I am away from home. We discussed how Joshua has had to accept his different role and regularly has to entertain himself because we do not have the time for him. Also he has no regular social life becuase we do not live near his friends and are not able to commit to involve him with any regular pastimes like swimming or football clubs becuase of Lucy's strict timetable. She explained that in addition to the direct payments there are a lot of services out there that we, including Joshua are not benefitting from. She accepted that it was important for Joshua to have his own time both with us and on his own. Up to present Joshua has been brilliant but that is not to say that at some point in the future his personal won't get on top of him. I found it quite refreshing to be able to talk openly about what we feel we need at the moment and the areas of our life that we find difficult. Perhaps we are simply ready now to talk about it whereas previously it may have been too early. Whatever it is, it was good to have had that meeting and to know that there are ways that we can get help if we need to.

Following that meeting we have been contacted by Crossroads ( www.crossroads.org.uk ) which is a volunteer organisation that as far as I understand provide respite by coming into your home for a few hours a week to give you time to do normal stuff like shopping, going out or simply getting the ironing done. Also our direct payments have been increased to five hours per week which is excellent and really gives us the opportunity to make good use of it. We have booked an appointment in a couple of weeks to discuss how we will go about sorting the direct payments out and getting somebody in to help us. For the first time I feel quite positive about social services and don't feel like a social outcast just because we have a social worker.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear about positive meeting with Social Services. Like what you mentioned in an earlier blog about the NHS - it's when we hear about all the good things and support you are getting from the govt services, that we don't mind paying tax and NI contributions etc at all.

the VHs

fairenuff said...

Tag, you're it! (Have a look at my blog).

I'm so glad that you have had a positive experience with social services. We've been down a similar road with asking for help and feeling like we ought to keep it secret because something is wrong if you need them. Our social worker was attached to the liver ward at St James and was a saint, tapping into resources we knew nothing about. I hope your experience continues to be positive and look forward to more updates.
Love Sam & gang

Zazu said...

Good post.