Comment: Rules for survival in an uncaring society.

It was recently reported that a senior councillor has claimed that Cambridgeshire County Council’s budget is fraudulent. The councillor believes that the amount budgeted for children’s social services and adult social care is incorrect. The council keeps overspending every year and will do so in the future because it does not budget correctly.

There are few families who are not affected by the inadequate support offered when they need children’s or adult services. The recent drama ‘Care’ shown on the BBC would have been very familiar to many people. One local’s reaction was that the central character ‘had it easy’. This individual not only had the same kind of difficulties to contend with, but her problems stretched over a number of years as the services made life incredibly stressful, making demands on the carer, rather than offering the help our tax money has supposedly paid for.

This carer had to develop a strategy for survival, to make sure she, too, did not become ill. There were five rules she was pushed into applying.

The first was not to attend meetings. When she first attended meetings, the decision makers discussed what to do with her loved one and even though she was repeatedly disagreeing, the decision makers ignored her. The carer resolved not to attend meetings but to ask them to let her know in writing what they were going to discuss and what they decided afterward. The carer was believed to be making trouble with these requests. No matter how much she protested that everything would be clearer this way, this was denied. Even then, she rarely received any information at all.

The second was to always send any letters back with a question. This passed the stress back to the letters’ authors. It was very worrying when demands for money were made to her. She knew she should not have been receiving them for her loved one should have had continuing care.

The third was to never make a statement in front of the decision makers and to only ask questions. She found that the minutes of meetings revealed that untrue facts about her were being made. She could not be accused of giving any information that could be misconstrued if she did not make any statements at all.

The fourth was, trust no one. When someone says they will do something, check to see that is has actually been done.

The fifth was not to weaken. When asked to help by paying for private care, if you have little money, do not agree. Bills have been known to escalate phenomenally without prior warning, even though this has been requested.

It is a sorry state of affairs if a person has to resort to these strategies when he or she is in a vulnerable position. Before you blame the individuals in the services, they are not the problem. Many ARE very caring and helpful by nature but have been driven to become hard-nosed bureaucrats by a faulty system starved of funds.

It is time we became the caring society we claim to be.

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