Welcome to my Warrior Mums, a collection of family journeys from parents of children/adults with special needs. Some of our mums are advocates or established campaigners, one is a midwife, then we have two nurses, three teachers, two solicitors and a GP....

We've had to adapt to so many government cuts and policies in the last few years and it's taken its toll on families. A major concern is when a young person reaches the age of 18, regardless of whether they have autism or a severe learning disability, legally, they are classed as an adult. As a parent you can no longer make decisions on their behalf. Some Councils are more humane than others and continue to include the family, but for others... and this seems to be a familiar complaint - if your loved one is in Care and you upset the care staff - or social workers -then the chances are they will stop you from visiting. I know one parent who was notified her son had split his head open and was rushed to hospital to have his wound stitched, a week after it happened. Staff didn’t notify her at the time of the emergency because they didn’t have to! Some parents have no contact or information regarding medication or any other health issues about their loved one's welfare, all under the guise of 'best interest'.

The misuse of the Mental Capacity Act has brought a huge increase in applications for Deprivation of Liberty safeguards through the courts. It's hard to believe that in 2017 this government are advocating locking up (and Sectioning) people with special needs in NHS Units and depriving them of family contact. These vulnerable people who are being unfairly punished because this government are unable to meet their care needs, would have had more freedom in the 70s living in large 'institutions' than they do in community care and independent 'of family' living' today...

This blog has given parents the opportunity to share the experience of their unforseen life with a special needs son/daughter. Some have had great support and professional guidance whilst others, sadly, have been lied about and deceived, blamed for their child's 'problems' by some who have no understanding of the disability. Facts about their family life have been distorted and manipulated into many untruths, making parents only too aware that their reputation precedes them in every meeting they attend. They feel judged, disrespected and ganged up on. Telling THEIR story in Warrior Mums puts THEIR truth 'out there' for all to see.
These stories are not only a means of support for parents but also a learning curve for our learning disability nurse following and other professionals.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to get in touch on the contact form below if you would like me to write your story or I can be of any help.

Take care

Michelle

30 November 2016

COUNCIL TENDER ADULTS WITH A LEARNING DISABILITY TO THE CHEAPEST BIDDER






The hypocrisy of the 2014 Care Act and all those who pretend it makes sense..

The new social worker, the second in two months, looked from Marie to me. Marie had been assessed and offered a permanent place in the respite Home she had visited over a five year period, originally introduced through Liverpool City Council. It had been 2 and 1/2 months since we had applied and six weeks since assessment had been completed so I was expecting this new social worker to come with good news. Instead, he said, 'If we give you more support could she continue to live at home?' I was taken aback. I'd been asking for more support for years, but now it was too late. Years of struggling had ruined my health and I told him so.
He nodded towards Marie. 'You won't get your choice of Home because she's going to be offered for tender on the care portal.' 
Now I was confused.
'Offered for tender on the care portal?' I repeated the words hanging in the air.
'Care providers will bid for her care package.'
Call me stupid but I still didn't understand.
'What do you mean, bid for her? I asked him.
'She'll be put out to tender and we'll see what offers come in. We usually take the lowest' he laughed.
I went to speak but couldn't get the words out. I had never heard anything like it in my life. I just could not grasp what he was saying. 'You don't mean advertise her on the internet, do you?' I asked expecting him to maybe laugh and tell me not to be so daft but instead he nodded.
I glanced over at Marie, innocent, trusting, vulnerable Marie and still in disbelief I said, 'You don't mean like, "51 year-old woman with a severe learning disability looking for a home..?" I trailed.

'Yeah, that's right', he answered. 
I was speechless. His mouth continued to move but I couldn't hear the words.
I looked at Marie's PA who was sitting beside me with eyes filled with tears, mirroring exactly what I felt. And I thought,  

Oh my God....Oh my God.... how has this ever been allowed to happen? How can these vulnerable people that we love so much be treated in such a cruel way? Their care for sale on the internet!





              
I have waited and waited, coping with poor health and a reluctance to speak out in case it jeopardised Marie's application for residential care, but our treatment by Liverpool City Council has been appalling and it's time to share our story. Having said that, I must apologise in advance to all the decent social workers we have met in Liverpool over the years and there are many of them, because what is happening today is no reflection on the support we had from you in better times.. 
Where do I start? Well I suppose a good place would be to thank all those who've contacted me this last 12 months and then to apologise to you for my silence. Believe me your messages were truly appreciated.  
I don't like talking about my health and I think that's true of most parents. We only put ourselves 'out there' when all else has failed and there is nowhere else to go. There aren't many parents who enjoy being in the public eye; it really is our last resort.  

In the beginning of the year I was struck down with the most excruciating pain and stiffness throughout my body. I was unable to raise my arms above my waist or move my head from side to side, suffered pain in my thighs, wrists, elbows, upper arms and shoulders and I shuffled around the house like a 90 year-old woman.  
Most days I couldn't even raise my arms to comb my hair and it made me think a lot about other carers and how they cope. Thousands of people behind closed doors across Britain being robbed of their health as they struggle to care for their loved ones despite their own failing health. For years I had coped with Diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, stage 3 chronic kidney disease, arthritis in my hands requiring cortisone injections in my thumbs - and now this. I was being run into the ground.
 Every day was agonising and I struggled to care for Marie. Fogged with pain patches and any other pain medication to hand, nothing but nothing alleviated the pain and when I lay in bed at night my body seemed to lock making any slight movement to cause agonising pain that left me in tears. Not knowing what was wrong with me during those dark hours I wondered if I might die during the night and what would happen to Marie. It was a very scary time.
If I was still for more than 10 minutes day or night, although the night time was far worse, it meant my arms would lock and my body would stiffen. I remember one morning lying in bed unable to move watching the minutes tick by on the clock 5 - 10 - 15 - 20 and still I lay there listening to Marie trying to call me. I eventually managed to shuffle my feet across the bed until they rested on the floor, groaning with  pain as I slowly raised my torso in an effort to sit up. The seering pain as I tried to prize my arms from my sides was like a knife slicing through me and made me feel sick. I'd look at my clothes and knowing it was too painful to get dressed I'd go into Marie's room to start my long day. I'd wonder how I was going to cope silently praying for the strength to do the best I can. I'd kiss Marie good morning and help her out of bed. Even holding her hand to support her walking was agonising for me so I had to make sure I wore my hand and arm splints to support my weak and painful muscles. 
After months of agony when I could no longer face going to bed, I began to spend my nights sitting in a chair, which made getting up to see to Marie in the mornings a bit easier. It was less painful to stand from a chair, though still very painful, than trying to get out of bed. 
We still had 18 hours support a week usually 10-4 over three days, but it's a drop in the ocean because of the other 150 hours we spend alone. It was too painful for me to drive and I couldn't (and still can't) push Marie's wheelchair outside. We were isolated. I lost the motivation to read or write although I couldn't write if I wanted to, stopped returning phone calls or answering emails, in fact some days I wasn't well enough to read them. I felt totally cut off and lost all sense of identity and the worst feeling of all is that feeling that nobody cares. 
I used to ask myself how have we got to this stage? Wasn't life supposed to get easier as we got older? I must have been saving the government thousands yet here we now were both of us disabled with very little support.

To my great relief and after months of nobody knowing what was wrong with me, I was finally diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica. 
(Polymyalgia rheumatica, or PMR, is an autoimmune disease that causes widespread muscle pain and stiffness in the major joints.)  
I was put on steroids and told I will need to take them for at least the next two years and probably for the rest of my life. Naturally I was glad of the diagnosis and being able to get some relief from my pain but to think I was saddled with this for years and would have to take high doses of steroids was very disheartening. I have a lot of conditions to deal with. PMR has left my muscles weak and there will likely be flare-ups. I suffer from fatigue but have no real time to rest. I get up at 7 and go to bed after Marie at 11 or 11.30. Sometimes I feel like an old cart horse that will just carry on until it drops..
If I'd have been given the new care package I asked for last year after my knee replacement operation, allowing a bit more time to myself and being able to rest, I'd be a different person today.
So why didn't I ask for help? 
I already had asked for help in a way. I was still waiting for the carers assessment and new care package I had requested almost a year ago. I wouldn't however go so far as to ask for emergency care, though, because Marie could easily have been misplaced somewhere- anywhere and never come home again.   
We carers have learnt how to choose our battles. Most of us know that any request for help embroils us in a chain of assessments that bring nothing but added stress and rarely with a positive result. All it does is sap the time and energy we don't have to spare, exacerbating our situation.
My health was deteriorating fast but if Adult Services cannot provide an elected respite facility that will meet Marie's challenging behaviour then God knows where will she end up in an emergency situation?
We've all  heard too many tragic stories of people with special needs being misplaced in treatment units under the guise of assessment - and being stuck there under the mental health act. Forgotten, neglected, over-medicated, denied family contact. Families having no redress, intimidated into silence by the Court of Protection. The Mental Capacity Act and 'Best Interest' shoved under their noses as their identity as a parent pales into insignificance. Entangling our sons and daughters in legal loopholes, locking them up and taking away their freedom when they have committed no crime. 
No thank you - emergency care was not an option.  
But after all we'd been through - and survived, this last experience was different and made me realise I had no choice but to make long term plans for Marie's future care. I was 63 and she was 51. It wasn't fair to Marie. This would be Marie's second venture into independent (of family) living. Her first placement had been successful for a good few years but unfortunately the facility changed and could no longer meet her needs so she came back home. 

When you are down to nothing, God is up to something...



I realised I would have to set about making my own enquiries into finding Marie a new home. Firstly I rang the only place Marie was used going to stay, the only place she had ever gone to bed if only for an hour or two at a time and the only place I could ever envisage her living happily with staff she had grown fond of. Marie was initially introduced to this Home by Liverpool City Council eight years earlier. It was situated outside of Liverpool and one of their preferred providers.
When I first spoke to the care home staff I asked if they could offer ANY respite. At the time I could barely stand and still not knowing what was wrong with me, thought I might recover after a couple of days rest. (WRONG!) Unfortunately the Home are registered as a permanent Home and offering Marie short term care was a service they still could no longer provide. Oh well, I thought, God loves a trier. They then went on to tell me they only had one long term vacancy. That was even better and the last thing I expected to hear. I didn't hesitate, I mean why would I when we were in such a desperate situation. It can be months even years before vacancies arise in these place and how lucky was I to telephone just as one had occurred?
I told them how I wasn't well and that I didn't think I could look after Marie for much longer. I asked them to consider the bed for her. Knowing Marie the way they did I knew they would help if they could. All I could do was wait and pray.
A few weeks later I took Marie to visit them. Bearing in mind she hadn't been there for three years, as soon as we approached the building she was shouting with excitement and when her favourite person, the Manager, opened the door, Marie's face was a picture. There was no doubt about it - here was the place she wanted to be. 
So as soon as we got back I contacted Adult Services for Marie to be assessed. I also contacted Maria Eagle, our local MP, explaining about Marie's background and my poor health and asking her if she would support me with the application. (You don't get to this age without anticipating problems!) She immediately wrote to Adult Services recommending they secure Marie's place in the home. 
 
 Reflections

For those who don't know our background, briefly - I met Marie when I was 16 and she was 5. She had a severe learning disability, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Being the only handicapped child in a children's home resulted in Marie being left on her cot all day or locked in the Pram storage room on her own where she would scream and screech and crash her head into the floor until she fell asleep. 

When the home closed at the end of that year Marie was sent to live in a large hospital and because of my interest in her I was offered a job as a cadet nurse. But the hospital was large and impersonal and no place for a child to grow up in so after several months I left, promising myself to do all I could to get Marie out of there too.

I traced Marie's mother who took the brave decision to make me her daughter's legal guardian so I could maybe bring Marie out of hospital. 

The following year the Sunday People newspaper, on hearing of my relationship with Marie through my brother in law, offered to serialise our story over a 2 week period. The £300 fee, (don't laugh!) which was a lot in those days, enabled me to bring Marie home to live with me altogether.
Michelle Daly and Marie - Warrior Mums blog
The week our story was featured in the Sunday People, my brother brought me a poster home that had been featured on billboards around the UK. It was great to know so many people cared, a far cry from today's attitude towards vulnerable people. I hated the publicity and being in the public eye but I had to put my own feelings aside and get on with it, after all, it was to give Marie a better life.
My sister and her husband let us to stay in their dilapidated old schoolhouse in Lincolnshire. With only an outside toilet and a cold water tap it was still heaven. To me the only thing that mattered was that Marie was loved and cared for like any other child. She was still in nappies and I used to boil the water in a pan on the stove every night and bathe her in an old tin bath. 

And now here I was 43 years later trying to secure her future because of my ailing health.

When I initially applied for residential care in the July the new social worker, who I shall call Mr Jones, was like a breath of fresh air. 
He was so understanding of our situation. His overall experience with learning disability, his incite and compassion reminded me of all we had lost over the years. Listening to him made me hopeful for the future. 
Over the next four weeks the assessment had been thorough with hours spent on the Care Plan, the Mental Capacity test and Best Interest forms completed. 
Carers Assessment
I had even (reluctantly) filled out a 24 page Carers Assessment because Mr Jones did not want the application rejected had one been required to complete Marie's assessment for residential care. (This was the 2nd Carers assessment I had filled out in a year with the original one not followed through.) 
Unfortunately Marie's treatment in the children's home had left her so damaged that to this day she will scream and screech when she is anxious. She is mainly non verbal and has no sense of time or danger. This has created problems over the years and difficulty in finding suitable respite facilities. The intervention strategies I have in place at home, no response to screeching, encouraging Marie to express herself in other ways avoids this kind of behaviour. Some staff in respite cannot be bothered with the consistency required to manage Marie's disruptive behaviour and the placement breaks down. Marie is also on the autistic spectrum.
I knew Community Care for Marie in some two up two down house would be disastrous as she needs a more structured support. Community care would require at least 2-1 staffing 24/7 and would even be more costly than the 1-1 place she has been offered in the residential care home. 
Mr Jones understood this and thought it was in Marie's best interest to take up residence in the care home of our choice. He marked the application as urgent, due to Marie's need for maximum care and my poor health. He had applied to the Home for costing and all was complete. I was told I'd have a decision in a couple of weeks, so every day I was hopeful good news would arrive.  
At times I felt quite teary eyed at the thoughts of Marie leaving home. What does she take with her and what does she leave behind. The hardest part is not being able to explain because she wouldn't understand most of my words. At the same time I was thankful that she had been offered a place in a Home she was familiar with, with staff who sang from the same hymn sheet and who had grown to know and care for Marie over the years.  She had always needed a 1-1 staff 24/7 (and still does) otherwise placement would break down.


On top of everything else I had recently suffered from pains in my chest which my GP suspected was angina. The heart specialist he sent me to had booked me into hospital for an angiagram and in the meantime had supplied me with beetablockers and a glycerol spray for under my tongue. Yet another string to add to my bow.

Life went on and I was busy filling out the reasons why 51 year-old Marie, this adult with a mental age of a 19  month-old, could not attend the Jury Duty she had been called to. Then I had to complete a 20 page return to work document for her. Both organisations hostile and menacing with threats of fines and benefits stopped if forms are not completed on time. Sometimes I think the government forget we do not work for them, our full time job is doing the caring and not filling out the unnecessary paperwork they regularly bombard us with.
Just to add more stress, unfortunately at the end of August Mr Jones left the employment of Liverpool Adult Services after only one month. I was sad to see him go and so thankful it was he who had done the assessment.  
And so we waited and waited and in September, concerned that Marie might lose the bed if there was any further delay, I contacted our MP. She was assured by Director of Adult Services that costing had been received and a newly appointed social worker, who was processing the application, would be out to see us the following week. I thought that was rather strange because Mr Jones had already processed the application. Maybe this new social worker was coming to deliver the good news personally. All I could do was wait and see. This particular social worker, due at 1.30 arrived at 12 instead. That alone should have been a warning sign that he had no consideration for us - and that was the day he told me Marie was to go up for tender and three months after I had initially applied for residential care for her.
After the social worker left that awful day Marie's PA couldn't stop crying. She couldn't get over what he told us and neither could I. We were devastated not only at the thoughts of Marie being offered for tender on the internet but other vulnerable people. Property and cattle go to the highest bidder and the most vulnerable in our society, who we love and want to protect, are for sale to the lowest bidder.
For the next few days I felt emotionally battered. I was absolutely devastated every time I thought of Marie being put up for tender. It's so difficult when you're not in good health. I didn't know which way to turn. I couldn't talk about it because I was still trying to process what he had told me. I was kind of in a state of shock. 
Thank God Marie didn't understand his heartless delivery; a delivery which demonstrated that for the most vulnerable in our society it is and always has been.. NO VOICE NO CHOICE.
To think I had struggled to look after Marie all these years; to give her a loving home and secure life and after all she had been through in her early years, to end up being advertised on the internet for someone to look after her was absolutely outrageous.
Again I contacted our MP Maria Eagle, telling her about the proposal to involve Marie in the tendering process when all along we had been lead to believe the application had been specifically for a place in the Home. I had also learnt that day from the social worker that his manager had rejected Mr Jone's application for Marie, saying it had been incomplete. She had rejected it after Mr Jones had left their employment six weeks ago and had not bothered to let me know. So all of this time when my mixed emotions are trying to deal with the coming changes in our lives, every day waiting for news in the post and constantly checking emails, had all been in vain because the application had been abandoned. I was so tired of it all.
Where is their compassion and respect for Marie and her family?
I wrote to LCC CEO and below is part of his reponse to me:
 "The procedure for securing a long-term placement would involve a service tendering process being completed detailing Marie's care needs, and an opportunity for all care providers to express if they are able to meet such care needs. Again, this is to promote choice for Marie's as laid out under the Care Act 2014."
HELLO!! How could he spout this utter rubbish that makes no sense? It's already been established in this assessment process that Marie lacks the capacity to choose or make any kind of decision so let's be real about all this. Why would she be offered for tender if she is unable to participate in process or indeed give her permission for personal details to be uploaded onto care portal?
Isn't this unnecessary process really about giving all care providers an opportunity to cash in; to allow all a fair crack of the whip to make money from the vulnerable and the voiceless. Even the computer software company who design these 'care' portals must be laughing all the way to the bank. 

Learning disability is where the new money is!

Nobody cares about what Marie wants except the people who love her - her family. 
And what gives these officials the right to think that after all Marie has been through that they can just dump her in a Home full of strangers? To think she began her days locked up in a room in a children's home because she was the only handicapped child that nobody wanted and ends them on an internet portal put out to tender for strangers to bid for her care.

So now we continue to wait and wait. The stress continues to take its toll on my body. The social worker who came to see us on October 4th about the care portal, and who promised to get back in touch with me in a couple of days after he looked at Marie's case and the possibility of her going to the Home of our choice, has not been heard of since. 
The bed for Marie in the residential care home has been sitting empty since July and it 1st December tomorrow. Ask Adult Services why the delay and they will give you a hundred excuses but no satisfactory reason as to why it has taken over four months to deal with an application for residential care or why they want to put Marie up for tender in order to give her a choice of care when she lacks the capacity to choose or take part in any of the tendering process. 

I told them in the beginning how ill I was, how I wanted to see Marie safe, settled and happy. She does have a right to be happy, doesn't she? Don't I have a right too, to peace of mind after caring for her all these years.
I have fought for Marie's rights since I was 16 and will continue to do so as long as she needs me. I want her to leave this house; go from one loving home to another, in a calm and dignified way, not in a crisis when I have taken ill in the middle of the night. I also expect social workers and any officials involved in her life to treat her with compassion, acknowledge her family ties and respect them.
To even consider Marie or any other vulnerable person who lacks capacity for tender on the internet is immoral and should be banned altogether. The social worker told me they use the internet portal because they don't have time to be looking for individual residential care places.
What is the point in wasting all this time when Marie has a perfectly suitable place to go and live. Past experience tells us the Home is a place she enjoys going to. We can only go on what we see - how else would we know? And now they are telling me they want to send her off into an unknown future like some poor war-torn refugee. I have already told them Marie will no be going up for tender!
I asked why Marie cannot go to the Home she prefers and was told if they did that for her they would have to do it for everybody or they would be accused of favouritism, which I think is absolutely disgraceful.

I look upon Marie as a teacher. She has taught me so much about accepting and respecting people's individuality and how to enjoy the simple things in life. She helped me raise the plight of children living in long stay hospitals in the 70's and has brought to light many other issues. Now through Marie I have learnt about the appalling tendering process. I am sure many people were already aware of it but there will be many others that weren't. Common sense is needed to put this right.
 

Let Marie live where she's happiest, where her bed is waiting, and stop treating her like she's one of a herd of cattle at a Mart. You wouldn't want your own family treated this way would you?

My battle scars..


UPDATE 1st December


This post only went up yesterday, 30th November, and late this afternoon I had a phone call from the social worker to tell me Marie's assessment was completed. For a moment I thought he was about to tell me the placement of our choice could go ahead. Silly me! I listened as he went on to tell me that Marie was uploaded onto the internet portal on Tuesday - two days before I wrote this post. I was stunned. This vulnerable woman that I have loved and protected for most of our lives had been put up for auction.

He told me Marie will be advertised for 7 days and if there are no bids for her she will be advertised for a further 7.  

How could anybody not cry at such cruelty?

He told me they will bring the best 3 offers for us to decide which one we wanted.

Well I am afraid they are wasting their time because Marie won't be going to any of them.. 

Unfortunately Liverpool City Council excluded the Care Home of our choice from the tendering process so I think that just about sums them up.

I feel so broken, beyond shocked and devastated - just broken.

What kind of world are we living in to treat vulnerable people and their families in such a way?

 

2nd update - 4th December

I was so upset when I finished last update, so much was left in the air. It took me a couple of days to recover from the shock and now I am slowly getting back on my feet again. I was gasping for air after the phone call from social worker telling me Marie had been offered for tender 2 days earlier. In that split second the social worker had stripped Marie of the wonderful person she is and effectively reduced her to a Lot number.
During our heated exchange of words I asked the social worker how he could have done that to Marie and he told me I already knew what was going to happen and that I only heard what I wanted to hear. I was so distraught I could barely get my breath. 
I rang my friend but was sobbing so much I couldn't get the words out, so devastated that anybody could treat Marie in this way. I could hear her pleading with me to calm down, afraid I was going to have a heart attack, but I was too shocked.
The sad thing is I never cry in front of Marie and was glad I'd taken the phone call in another room. After a while when I was composed enough to go into her she had her hands over her face muttering incoherently and pretending to cry. This is the kind of misery families are having to deal with today. Poor Marie must have heard me crying but thank God she didn't know the reason why.

It feels like grief and it is a kind of grief for all that we have lost in this country. Compassion and empathy has died and so has kindness and integrity and respect for family ties, too. Even the Church seems to forget that vulnerable people are all God's children and have abandoned the families they once would have carried like footprints in the sand.

Marie knows how loved she is and trusts me implicitly, so much so that she would probably walk beside me through hot coals as long as we held hands. So why would I take her by the hand and like a pair of paupers go in search of somewhere, anywhere, for her to live? Only some kind of Stepford wife would participate in a process they disagreed with and a Stepford wife I am not! I'm not their puppet and I won't play any part in it.

Let them take Marie and introduce her themselves and see how far they get. I am sure Marie will enjoy the day out. Maybe they'll stop in McDonalds for a 'happy' meal? 
I wonder how honest they have been about her needs because for the placement to be successful it's imperative for Marie to have a 1-1 24/7. Not a shared wake and watch or sleep - that's been tried, tested and failed, but her own round the clock carer.

Isn't it all so silly and such a waste of everybody's time and money when you think we have already found a Home that suits her needs and has been available for her since July?

Over 25,000 people have read our story and it has shocked and upset many. 

Why weren't we all made aware of the tendering process and why are people from all areas of the care sector so shocked at our experience?

13th December

This afternoon a new social worker arrived with a colleague bringing me the good news that Marie was no longer on the care portal and would be going to the Home that she loves.

What a lovely ending to an absolutely terrible year.

There is no way I can help Marie to understand the great future she is going to have until she literally walks through the door of the Home she is so familiar with and sees it for herself.  

No parent should accept the appalling tendering process and we must all do what we can to have it abolished. Share your stories, stick together and support each other even when times are good because you never know when you might need help.

I have made a request under FOI to 28 authorities across the UK to establish how many adults with a learning disability they have successfully placed in residential care through the tendering process since April 2014 and how many of those successfully placed lack capacity. Maybe then we will get a clear picture of the numbers of vulnerable people have been sold to bidders like Ebay items. 


I would like to thank all my Twitter and Facebook friends for their support, especially the learning disability nurse community, many of them firm friends, those who have left comments on my post and everybody else that has sent me messages of support. 

I will finish this long saga by wishing everybody a Merry Christmas. I am smiling from ear to ear. My wishes have come true. I hope yours do too. 






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 Below is the follow up post with Freedom of Information results..

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.  

The social worker told me over the phone that Marie had been uploaded onto the care portal for 7 days and that if nobody bid for her she would be uploaded for another 7, and I nearly collapsed. 
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 and also relieved to add that Marie eventually went to the Home of her choice.


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?
 
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?
358*
*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
“None.”
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
individual.”
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