A couple of weeks ago I was present when a social worker visited my sister. Prior to that visit I had contacted Adult Social Services to ask them to support my sister, as she did not receive any support. During that call I was informed that practical care which my sister needs, such as cutting up food and cleaning, had been stopped. Only personal care was being offered. This jolly looking female arrived and asked questions about my sister’s ability to socialise. She then suggested a number of changes my sister needed to make to her diet. Although stated a number of times, this social worker was not hearing of my sister’s lack of dexterity in her hands, hence not being able to cut up food, of her severe fatigue, clinical depression, etc. She started bleating on about how she had become a vegan which had resulted in her losing weight and feeling healthier. In fact it was as though the Vegan Society had sent one of their members to convert my sister! Ironically this social worker revealed that she had a daughter who was bed-bound due to having Lupus. This social worker could not get her daughter to change her diet or take on any of her newfound dietary changes. It wasn’t lost on me that this woman had failed to recognise that her daughter and my sister was disabled due to a degenerative condition. Veganism was her saviour and therefore as far as she was concerned veganism would be everybody’s saviour!. She did not complete an assessment form but made a few notes during her two hour visit, trying to convince my sister of the need to change her diet, take supplements and change her mindset. My sister struggles to remember to take her medication, let alone the supplements that I as a degree qualified Medical Herbalist purchase for her. It never occurred to me or my sister that this woman was carrying out an assessment under the Care Act 2014! My sister has cognitive impairment, therefore as someone whose memory and the ability to recall fail her, she should have been given the right to have an advocate present. This I later discovered from the advocate who called me separate to and after the social workers visit. I had spent two previous weekends cleaning up the ground floor of my sister’s home, which had succumbed to her hoarding. Whether it be an inability to cope, provides comfort or is a form of OCD, hoarding is a window into the mind of an individual which tells the world something is wrong. It was only when the social worker inspected my sister’s bedroom that she acknowledged there was a hoarding issue. She was like Doubting Thomas, she had to see it to believe it. Telling her there was a problem was not enough! We heard nothing from her until I contacted her office for a response, only for my sister to receive a pathetic letter informing her that she did not meet the criteria for eligibility under the Care Act 2014. There was no breakdown of why she did not meet that criteria.
I set about writing back to her on my sister’s behalf. This is something I have to do most evenings when I come home from work, which I deem fire fighting! If I leave my sister to sort things out, in most cases without guidance from me, she will sabotage a situation that was fine or accept whatever rubbish others espouse. This I put down to the brain shrinkage from MS. After a hard day at work looking at a computer screen and trying to sort out other people’s mess, I come home and look at my computer screen, trying to sort out my family’s mess. I have little time for my mess.