WELCOME TO ALL FELLOW CAMPAIGNERS for DISABILITY RIGHTS - a pan disability blog connecting my work with, EQUAL LIVES, the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and the Survivor History Group.

Protest, Norwich Job Centre

Protest, Norwich Job Centre
Fatso Gets Militant!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Advocacy `vs the Fear of Losing Funding

I’m being shoved in the direction of believing these things are more about Norfolk attitudes than anything else. Am I right?

I was delighted at the beginning of the year when I was approved as a voluntary advocate for Age Concern Norfolk. At last, I thought, here is something I can do which can’t turn out to be tokenism.

Early on, at an induction group, I was a bit phased when the ‘Development Manager for Advice and Advocacy’ argued that it is perfectly alright for an advocate to give advice but the moment got shuffled away with time demands.

As I began to work with my advocacy partner, a person with a diagnosis of early dementia who was looking at Lasting Power of Attorney, I phoned the office and asked if they had a hard copy of the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice (I have it on PDF but it’s too long for me to print). The answer from admin was “no” but shortly after I had a phone call from an advocacy supervisor asking why I wanted such a thing - “We’re not here to challenge professionals.” She said! I shrugged to myself and carried on anyway.

Coming up to date, we had a meeting of the advocacy team last week. One of the topics was a new project for advocacy in care homes - a great idea BUT it was announced that part of this would be to help the care homes manage any complaints arising from the advocacy service!!!!!

At this meeting I also expressed some concerns I had picked up during my work with my advocacy partner; concerns that weren’t strictly to do with my advocacy brief but nevertheless quite serious shortcomings on the part of adult social services:

  • a complaint about the home carer just “popping in for no more than three minutes.”

  • a care management review being held in an oppressive and subtly coercive environment that disturbed and distressed my advocacy partner and rendered her unable to participate properly.

  • the absence of any primary or secondary care presence at that review - a failure the care manager to “...ensure the coordinated delivery of health and social care services for people with dementia. (NICE - SCIE Guidelines)” There was no primary or secondary care input in my advocacy partner’s care and no medical or nursing supervision of a plethora of medication all with potentially distressing side effects and one drug which is effectively fatal even in overdose.

Time overtook our group meeting but a separate meeting between myself, my supervisor and an advocacy manager. I went through my concerns again and asked how they would be dealt with. The answer was that they wouldn’t - there was some argument that they didn’t involve ‘the individual’ which I didn’t understand. What I did understand was the Manager telling me they would not take these concerns further especially as they had to be careful “Not to upset their sources of funding.”

Luckily, I had reached a stage with my advocacy brief where I was about to finish my involvement.

I ceased work with this organisation the following day and will be pursuing those concerns off my own bat.

Postscript: I had a follow-up letter today from the Development Manager, Advice and Advocacy it declares: “...we do not condone abuse, mistreatment or bad practice and would challenge any perpetrator of such conduct.”

Mmmm. That’s what I thought and one of the reasons I wanted to work with Age Concern Norfolk but their fine words patently don’t translate into practice.

With voluntary work here in Norfolk, I keep finding downright deceit, tokenism, cosy attitudes or unacceptable and unhealthy compromises. Is there something wrong with me?????????????

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The Tough Tenor (when I could walk)!

In a Mellotone

In a Mellotone
Ah sweet Youffff