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!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Oh what a beautiful mor-ning, oh what a beautiful day...

Last Saturday the Annual General Meeting of the Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People took place. A generally happy throng turned up to a very comfortable and well equipped venue (Poringland Community Centre) resulting in a relaxed and productive day.

In the open mike session - where everyone in the room is asked to identify themselves and say what activities or issues they'd been involved in during the year - I opted to declaim the exploitation by public authorities of volunteers to take the place of professionals and other paid employees; both destroying the quality of service received by disabled people and helping to take away the means, for people with families, of making a living.

I couldn't have been more pleased with the reception I had with many people supporting what I was saying and several people seeking me out to talk about it afterwards. Foundations for a campaign, perhaps.

On the sadder side, during the open mike session, quite a few people told us about how they'd been left in a problematic limbo with direct payments/personal budgets assessments. They all recounted how they had lost trace of their social worker and had no idea of what was happening. Talking afterwards, we agreed this was at minimum, discourtesy on the part of Norfolk Adult Social Care and at worst malpractice.

For my part I believe this is malpractice and these social workers in Norfolk, particularly the managers who are imposing the policies leading to this, are breaching the General Social Care Council 'Codes of Practice' for Social Care Workers. Part of the Codes say:

1. As a social care worker, you must protect the rights and promote the interests of service users and carers.

This includes:

1.1 Treating each person as an individual;
1.2 Respecting and, where appropriate, promoting the individual views and wishes of both service users and carers;
1.3 Supporting service users’ rights to control their lives and make informed choices about the services they receive;
1.4 Respecting and maintaining the dignity and privacy of service users;
1.5 Promoting equal opportunities for service users and carers; and
1.6 Respecting diversity and different cultures and values.

2. As a social care worker, you must strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of service users and carers.

This includes:

2.1 Being honest and trustworthy;
2.2 Communicating in an appropriate, open, accurate and straightforward way;
2.3 Respecting confidential information and clearly explaining agency policies about confidentiality to service users and carers;
2.4 Being reliable and dependable;
2.5 Honouring work commitments, agreements and arrangements and, when it is not possible to do so, explaining why to service users and carers;
2.6 Declaring issues that might create conflicts of interest and making sure that they do not influence your judgement or practice; and
2.7 Adhering to policies and procedures about accepting gifts and money from service users and carers.

I'm sure Norfolk Adult Social Care and its social workers is failing to observe the GSCC Codes of Practice, as I think it is plain to see. Since I am one of those in limbo, I intend to make a formal complaint about this as a first step to reporting the service to the GSCC. I am aware the GSCC sanctions are serious - Social Workers found guilty of serious breaches of the codes can be struck off.

Out of these revelations from the floor and a request to the attendees by the board for ideas about where NCODP should go in the future , I suggested to Mark Harrison (NCODP CEO) that we badly need a pan-disability advocacy service which could tackle these problems and suggested NCODP might consider that as a future development. In summary, my impression of what Mark said is:

a) He considers 'self-advocacy' peer support happens throughout NCODP, in the Independent Living Groups for example, and this is sufficient to meet the need. My response is that advocacy proper is a tightly managed and professional practice with its own values and standards and this requires specialist training. In my view this is not available, except for our specialist mental health service and maybe learning disabilities. There is no proper provision for advocacy in personal budgets and direct payments and matters such as ATOS assessments, future PIP applications and NHS issues. I gave my experiences with Age Concern Norfolk as an example of where the standards are let slip (see: http://micoxpplog.blogspot.com/2009/05/advocacy-vs-fear-of-losing-funding.html

b) He said Norfolk County Council is exploring 'Information, Advice and Advocacy' future provision and will be tendering for services, perhaps next year, which NCODP will be able to bid for. I replied that I am in the service user/career group Norfolk CC is consulting on this and, in my opinion, their view of 'Advocacy' is a travesty of the real thing. What we should be looking at is as described above in a). More to the point, I said to Mark that an advocacy service has to be, essentially, an independent service and funding by a public authority conflicts with that. For more instruction I suggest going to 'Action for Advocacy (a4a) at http://www.actionforadvocacy.org.uk/

Lunchtime at the AGM was made entertaining by an acoustic session by part of the group Black Dog, one of the projects supported and brought along by Shaun Hobbs, our Vice Chair. See http://.www.theblackdogmusicproject.org/HOME.htm Despite problems with the vocal mike they gave a good performance. The after-lunch session was also entertaining - a demonstration of one of our linked groups: 'Sing Your Heart Out' - a mental health facility based at Hellesdon Hospital. they had the Poringland rafters ringing with the voices of the majority of attendees.

Then, best of all, our Youth Forum. The session was presented by a group of 6 or 7 of the Forum celebrating the NCODP's 15th birthday for which they had made a special film. What amazing talents these youngsters have: their previous film 'Don't Dis Me I'm Able' was/is a huge success including the special showing in Parliament.

And what an excellent opportunity to socialise and make contacts. Ian from the Youth Forum signalled over to me 'chat needed' when I was talking to Mark about advocacy. When we talked he told me he is currently doing some advocacy work with people with learning disabilities for NCODP. We agreed internal networking within the organisation could be nothing but constructive and swapped contact details.

Iechid da to NCODP for its 15th birthday. At last some optimism amongst all the gloom of the cuts.


contact micox@stollard.plus.com for more information
by micox at 6:22 pm

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The Tough Tenor (when I could walk)!

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