31 December 2017

Goodbye 2017 And To Those We Lost...

Michelle Daly's Parents - Warrior Mums
RIP to my mother 1928-2017

Michelle Daly with her mum - Warrior Mums

My earliest memory of my mother is sitting on her knee as she sang along to Que Sera Sera on the radio.

'When I was just a little girl I asked my mother what will I be,

Will I be pretty, will I be rich, here's what she said to me,

Que sera sera whatever will be will be, the future's not ours to see, Que sera sera'

Maybe it's just as well 'The furture's not ours to see'

My mother, who I really lost years ago to dementia, was born in Liverpool and of Irish descent. Her first born was a cot death at 5 months and she went on to have 5 girls and two boys, the youngest developed paranoid schizophrenia in his teens. My father went to sea and she was left to raise us alone, dogged with migraine and depression for most of her life as she struggled to provide for us all.  
Yet in her 60s, after the loss of my father and then her oldest daughter, she picked herself up and went to college to study English and Italian.

Nobody expects to bury their children, do they, but my mother buried 4 of them, two sons and two daughters. Now she is at peace and reunited with those she lost. 





Where There's a Will..

Many of you may remember Marie's special doll, Cathy, which was given to her by my sister when she was 8 years-old. Having spent the first five years of her life on a nursery floor in a children's home, hours were spent staring through the bars of her cot watching the babies being fed and changed - and loved.
The experience was seared into Marie's brain and even today if she hears a baby crying it brings her to tears and she can become quite distressed. She's unable to dress or undress the doll but is a dab hand at getting Cathy's wind up and pretending to feed her, then cuddling her for hours. When she is sad or anxious it's the doll she turns to for comfort and over the years all those who know and love Marie came to realise it is indeed the baby she never had..

Cathy sits anywhere and everywhere and we've all laughed over the years the way she appears in family photos, it never occurs to any of us to move her out of the way.

 Unfortunately over the years poor Cathy has suffered many injuries and as Marie got older and not knowing her strength, her cuddles constantly snapped the dolls legs out of the sockets, three fingers are broken off on one hand and the eyes no longer blink. Some people say she is scary (and she probably is) but we all love her.

  I have made many attempts at repairing Cathy but this year no matter how many times I tried to keep her together with masking tape, cellotape and glue, she fell apart. I could see she was headed for the knackers yard and poor Marie, at the age of 52, would be lost without her. 

I even dressed Cathy in a thick padded baby grower which stopped the legs from falling out, and in desperation bought similar looking replacement dolls but my conscience told me not to try and trick Marie into believing it was Cathy because one of the things she gets comfort from is the smell of her doll - just like a real mum. And wouldn't you know if someone swapped your baby for another...

So I decided to browse the internet in search of someone who could put poor Cathy back together again and came across Wendy's Babies site. Wendy makes newborn lookalikes and after reading how passionate she was about her craft and the reviews from people who's children she recreated, I thought if she can't help me nobody can. So I contacted Wendy explaining how much Marie loves her Cathy and sent some photographs. Wendy's heart immediately went out to Marie promising she would do all she could to rebuild the doll.

It was decided to make a soft body that Marie could cuddle to her heart's content without snapping any limbs but keep the original body parts. So I parcelled Cathy up and sent her special delivery, praying she didn't get lost in transit.
A week later, much to everybody's delight, the postman knocked on the door with a big box and of course our Cathy was inside.

Thank you Wendy for doing such a great job and bringing such happiness to Marie.


A big thank you to Mrs Jain, Eye Surgeon at Royal Preston Hospital and all of her team. Absolutely fabulous treatment for Marie and her special needs when she had eye surgery at the end of November.


Michelle Daly's Warrior Mums
At home 5 hours after cataract removal surgery under general anaestetic
This experience was a real learning curve for me. I will be writing about special needs and attitude towards cataract removal surgery in more detail and would be interested in any professional or family member who would like to share their views or experience.


I am looking forward to catching up with you all and will soon be sharing more warrior mum stories.

All the best for 2018!!

20 April 2017

Freedom of Information - Care Portal Commissioning Process for Adults with a Learning Disability.

Blackpool, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire,

Cheshire West & Chester, Doncaster, Exeter, Gloucestershire, Hammersmith & Fulbourn,

Islington, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Leeds, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, Nottinghamshire,

Oxfordshire, Peterborough, Plymouth, Rochdale, Warrington, Wirral, Wolverhampton

Well, it's been quite a while since I last blogged and I hope everybody's doing ok.
Many of you will remember the long drawn out saga with my local authority last year when I applied for my daughter to go into residential care. Marie had been offered a place where she had spent many happy years in respite. The home was outside the County and originally chosen by LCC because there had been nowhere suitable within the boundary to meet her needs. Link to original story Council Tender Adults with a Learning Disability 

When it came to LA decision making, the home of our choice and where we were led to believe Marie had been assessed for, was excluded from the selection by the local authority. I was informed daughter could not have the home of preference because other clients would see it as favouritism and then they'd have to give everybody what they wanted. 

When the social worker first told me Marie’s residential care application would be put up for tender I told him in no uncertain terms that was not going to happen but he said it had to happen because it was the law since April 2016 and in compliance with the Care Act.. (I have since learnt that the amendment to the 2014 Care Act implemented in April 2016 states that people applying for residential care must be given a certain amount of Homes to choose from.)

I was in poor health at the time and running on empty but still hit the ground running as I shared our story with an unaware public. You see the steps our local authority took were against our wishes and utterly shocked and appalled not only myself but thousands of others around the country.  

Marie's 7 day listing on the portal brought no bids and at the end of January 2017 she went to the residential home of her choice. No bids for your daughter is bittersweet and shows how heartless and cruel the tendering process is. However, I must add that from the beginning I refused to recognise, support or take any part in the tendering process.

The biggest question was why were so many people unaware of this tendering process?

Why did so many parents, support workers and learning disability nurses from around the country contact me to express their distress after hearing the way vulnerable people were treated by those who are supposed to care?

a. Was this new tendering policy written in stone?

b. Where we at the point of no return?

c. Was this really the way forward?
I also needed to find out if this was how every local authority treated its vulnerable people so I randomly selected 28 authorities through What do They Know - Freedom of Information site FOI to see how they dealt with applications for residential care for adults with a learning disability.

I asked the four following questions:

1. Since April 2014 how many adults with a learning disability applying for residential care has xxxx County Council submitted for tender on the internet care portal for care providers to bid for their care packages?

2. How many of these people lacked capacity?

3. How many adults with a learning disability has xxxx County Council successfully placed through the tendering process since April 2014?

4. How many of those successfully placed lacked capacity?

As the FOI results trickled in my heart began to lift; all was not lost. Despite their poor funding and whilst there may be many Councils around the country that still use care portals most of the authorities I contacted did not.

Tendering on care portals is clearly controversial. To submit the details of those who lack the capacity to give their permission is despicable. I am told that no personal details are submitted but that's a contradiction in terms because every word written about my daughter pertains to who she is.

If Marie applied for residential care and had no preference, since April 2016 under the Care Act she should be offered several choices of accommodation.

If Marie had a preference, under the Care Act SW could present her with more options in order to ensure Marie has a fair choice. It’s face to face personalised planning that takes Marie’s needs and preferences into account though we would still have opted for her preferred home that had been keeping her bed for months.
(Instead they rejected Marie's preferred choice and offered her to three strangers.)

So the Care Act promotes a selection of choices to ensure a person's needs will be met. What the Care Act does not do is promote mandatory use of care portals as the SW tried to make us believe. 
To ignore the family's wishes and replace the Home of Marie's choice with a one shoe fits all high-handed approach was obviously designed to bully us into doing something I found totally abhorrent. Putting adults with a learning disability out for tender did make SW job easier and I do accept how heavy their work-load can be but by doing so they turned my daughter into a commodity and devastated all the family. Just throw all the vulnerable adults into the drum, give it a spin and see which unknown care providers scroll through their details to see if it’s worth bidding for the care package - or not. Thankfully most local authorities I approached did not resort to using portals and preferred to meet individual needs in a more dignified way.

Click blue links below to individual What Do They Know Freedom of Information requests.

Birmingham City Council
How many adults with a learning disability has Birmingham City Council successfully placed through the tendering process since April 2014?
*This includes both domiciliary care and supported living packages
Birmingham City Council - Freedom of Information

Blackpool Borough Council
“This is not something that Blackpool Council does for clients going into residential care asthe choice ofcare home  would  be  with  the  client  and/or  their  representative;  it  is
is  not  something  Blackpool  Council  would impose.”
Blackpool Borough Council - Freedom of Information 

Bradford City Council
City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council does not make placements on this basis.”
Bristol City Council
Buckinghamshire County Council
“I am sorry, but I understand that we do not operate a ‘Tendering Process’ as per the original request and, therefore, cannot assist with this request.”
Buckinghamshire County Council - Freedom of Information 

Cambridgeshire County Council
“We do not use an online portal for care providers to bid for individual care packages. 
Therefore, we do not hold this information for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.”
Cambridge County Council - Freedom of Information

Cheshire West and Chester Council
“We can confirm 15 adults with a learning disability accessed residential
care during the period of 2016. Due to changes in the Council’s computer
systems data prior to 2016, and any further information or more accurate
assessment of how this care was tendered, is not held.”

Cheshire West and Chester Council - Freedom of Information

Doncaster Borough Council
“None, we currently spot purchase residential care by the social worker and/or
family identifying a residential home and then the social worker would present this to panel
for approval.”

Essex County Council
“I can confirm that Essex County Council does not hold this information.In response to your clarification question, Essex County Council have never used an 'internet care portal for care providers' where packages have been uploaded and providers invited to outbid each other for care packages.
Essex County Council did pilot a Dynamic Purchasing System, for Adult Social care, for a 6 month period, from November 2014 – May 2015. This system enabled individual care packages to be circulated to the pre-approved Supply Chain and subsequently awarded on a cost / quality basis. If this is the system your question refers to, Essex County Council made 9 Learning Disability Placements via this system.”
Essex County Council - Freedom of Information  

Gloucestershire County Council

I am pleased to provide a response to your request for information, received on 29 December 2016: Since April 2014 how many adults with a learning disability applying for residential care has Gloucestershire County Council submitted for tender on the internet care portal for care providers to bid for their care packages?             Answer = 91

Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council
“None – this is not how we purchase packages.”
Hampshire County Council
“Hampshire County Council does not use this process in order to commission residential
care for adults who have a learning disability
Hampshire County Council - freedom of information

Islington Council
"None as all residential care in our borough is in-house and all out of borough placements are spot purchases." Obtained directly through email so no link.

Kent County Council
“Residential placements for adults with a learning disability are not
submitted for bids on the care portal. For Learning Disability, Mental
Health and Physical Disability, residential contracts are awarded to new
services/providers following the completion of the Residential Cost Model
process and fees being deemed as value for money, taking into account the
need for the specific service. Once the cost model process has been
completed individual placements are made to a service through the KCC
Adult Purchasing team, taking into consideration the needs of the
Leeds City Council

Leicestershire County Council
Leicestershire County Council does not commission through a tender or care
portal bidding process. The authority has an overarching core agreement with
providers against which we commission individual placements that are the most suitable to meet an individual person’s care needs. 
Leicestershire County Council - Freedom of Information 

Lincolnshire County Council
"The Council is uncertain as to which specific portal the question
relates, however in general the Council does not use such a portal for
LD care tendering purposes. Ordinarily, up to three Providers are
short-listed and invited to Tender on the basis of the following
criteria; Ability to meet care/support needs; Service User / Family
preference; Cost; Geography; track record and experience; CQC/ LCC
quality status."
Lincolnshire County Council - Freedom of Information 

Liverpool City Council
“Since 1st April 2016 103 people have been supported through this
process. Eighty five have been placed in a residential setting included supported living, residential and nursing care.”  

Liverpool City Council - Freedom of Information   

Nottinghamshire County Council
“Nottinghamshire County Council can confirm no adults with a learning
disability applying for residential care have been 'offered for tender on
the internet to care providers'”

Nottingham County Council - Freedom of Information 

Oxfordshire County Council
“The Council does not purchase any residential care via the portal, but does
purchase supported living and community support services in this way.”

Oxfordshire County Council - Freedom of Information 

Peterborough City Council
“There has been no tender for Residential Care - placements are made
in accordance with the Care Act and ratified at a Quality and

Plymouth City Council 
“We do not use this tender process.” 
Plymouth City Council - Freedom of Information  

Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council
“Rochdale Council operates a preferred provider list for learning disability. All packages are commissioned against this list via what is known as an “expression of interest”. Packages are subsequently reviewed against individual need prior to an award being made. 
We do not advertise these on the internet.”
Sheffield City Council
“Sheffield City Council does not tender on the
internet to care providers for people with learning disabilities applying
for residential care.”

Warrington Borough Council
Please note that the response to the above is zero because we currently do not tender for LD residential care placements on the internet.
 Warrington Borough Council - Freedom of Information

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
“Wirral Council can advise that we the response to Q1 is 'nil', therefore we are unable to assist you any further with your enquiry.”
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council - Freedom of Information 

Wolverhampton City Council
“In response to your request, we can confirm that we do not tender individual
residential care placements.
Wolverhampton City Council - Freedom of Information 

On behalf of myself and the rest of the Warrior Mums I would like to thank all the authorities who responded to my FOI request. Of course the Law stipulates they had to respond, but still, their attitude to using care portals spoke volumes and reminds us all how much compassion, respect and integrity still flourishes. 

The Care Act
Choice of accommodation
Annexe A paragraph 5

Where a local authority is responsible for meeting a person's care and support needs and their needs have been assessed as requiring a particular type of accommodation in order to ensure that they are met, the person must have the right to choose between different providers of that type of accommodation provided that:

a. the accommodation is suitable in relation to the person's assessed needs; do so would not cost the local authority more than the amount specified in the adult's personal budget for accommodation of that type;

c.the accommodation is available; and

d. the provider of the accommodation is willing to enter into a contract with the local authority to provide the identified in the person's personal budget on the local authority's terms and conditions.

6.This choice must not be limited to those settings or individual providers with which the local authority already contracts with or operates, or those  that are within the local authority's geographical boundary. It must be a genuine choice across the appropriate provision.

7. If a person chooses to be placed in a setting that is outside the local authority's area, the local authority must still arrange for their preferred care. in doing so, the local authority should have regard to the cost of care in that area when setting a person's personal budget.