Monday, 21 April 2014

OT Problems

This rant concerns an Occupational Therapist (OT). Last week I went for a viewing of a wheelchair accessible property. This was the second viewing as the first was conducted sans OT. As it was a lovely spring day the housing officer suggested we wait outside for the OT, who as though to cue pulled up on his bicycle.

Staring at me with something of a quizzical look he asked me how long I’d been using a wheelchair, “About seven or eight years” I gestimated.

“When we met three years ago you weren’t in a wheelchair” replied the increasingly medical model sounding OT.

“Ah, that’s because we met in my current home” I responded “and one of the reasons you were assessing was due to my inability to fully utilise my home due to lack of wheelchair access”.

“In fact you recommended me for a wheelchair standard home over my current mobility standard flat.”

“But you were not using a wheelchair when I visited you last, were you?”

A sense of déjà vu was seeping into this conversation.

“To reiterate. You came to my flat back in 2011. The purpose of the visit to determine whether or not my home could be made accessible for wheelchair use. You measured various areas and launched into all the reasons why it was impossible to structurally alter the property, blah, blah, blah – which as I come from a construction back ground I was fully conversant with; and probably also better qualified.”

Adding to this I told the OT I’d had very bad experiences with OT’s in Lambeth over a number of years. That in the past they have ignored my needs. Indeed on one occasion an OT had conducted an assessment that took two hours to complete. He then copied me in a the assessment report, which turned out to be word-for-word identical to a report made three years earlier, all except he had changed the names.

Anyway, approaching the front door of the property, and stone me if Ove Arup doesn’t come out with another ‘qualified’ statement, remember at this point the front door was still closed:

“The hall is too small for you to make a three-point turn” prejudged he - even though a full turning circle for a wheelchair is not the same as a three-point turn.

The housing officer opened the front door and I entered the flat span around and gave the OT a mental ‘V’ sign.

As you can see achieving a turning circle in a wheelchair is not the same as carrying out a three-point-turn

Things just went down-hill after this. Mr Medical Model put obstruction in the way of obstruction. The doors were too narrow because I pull myself into the room by way of the door frame. This is a habit I have; and I do this at work, in public buildings, whether or not the door widths comply with Approved Document M.

He then picked up on me using my feet to open doors. Well, yes I do. What is the purpose of a kick plate anyway? Especially when the doors are fitted with Perkins door closers.

He persisted in asking me questions and not satisfied with the answer, attempted to get the answer he wanted by couching the question in a different way:

“Do you cook?”

“No. I have problems standing; and with a weakened left arm do not feel confident handling hot pans.”

“How about heating meals in a microwave?”

“Same thing, difficulty safely handling hot dishes.”

“You must make hot drinks, surely?”

“No I don’t. For exactly the same reasons I’ve just made.”

“So who cooks for you?”

“My PAs” – by now I’m getting the right hump.

“Are you his PA?” he asks directing the question at the only other person in the room.

“Yes, I’m one of Seán’s PAs” says my PA.

“Tell me…” and before he could finish the question, my PA interrupts with: “you’d best ask Seán”.

Of course I jumped in and told him to direct any questions about me to me.

At this point he accused me of being blasphemous to Lambeth OTs. Yes, he said ‘blasphemous’! Now I’ve met a good few consultants who fancy themselves as God; and not too few physio’s who are the devil incarnate – only joking Lesley, physio’s are all lurvelllly…

I’m supposed to be signing the tenancy agreement on Wednesday. Wouldn’t be surprised if the OT puts the kibosh on things stating the property is not suitable; and telling the HA that the council will not carry out any adjustments to the place.   

Saturday, 19 April 2014

"Sod the 'cradle of humanity'..."

“The worrying thing is that its [Africa] supposed to be the 'cradle of humanity' as the earliest humanoid fossils were found there. Considering that that means that people have lived there longer than anywhere else, the place is remarkably backward in health, education, political short, all the things the rest of the world have in far better condition. Sod the 'cradle of humanity' - I'd rather have the comforts of 21st century civilization!!!”
A contributor to Facebook

So, far from being the 'cradle of humanity' Africa is reduced to an uncivilised continent that has contributed nothing to the civilising of humanity. That is humanity as measured by someone cosy with the comforts of Western civilisations.

I wasn’t aware that the 21C had been reduced to a single civilisation.

However, that aside for now. Let’s examine the comforts of this century, shall we? What about that darling delight coming our way, Global Warming? On the bad side a great swathes of land submerged in water which will either displace or kill billions. On the good side… there is no good side.

Pollution is already out of control in many of the developed countries on this planet. Now that China, India and Brazil are in the race to produce more goods the use of fossil fuels will rise over-proportionally given the size and scope of these economies.

The real threat of desertifaction of massive areas of the USA and Central Asia; and a creeping southwards of the Sahara Desert in Africa. Attendant on desertification will be reductions and loss of vital water supplies. In volatile regions such as the Levant and Middle East this will exacerbate existing relations between states, relations that are already tenuous or even non-existent in some cases.

Then there’re the other great comforts afforded by 21C civilisation. Neo-liberalism and the growth of greed to ginormous heights. The division of wealth that today sees awning gap the size of the Rift Valley between the rich and poor. Over 1,000,000 people were forced to resort to food banks in the UK, the 7th richest country on earth, in the past year.

In the world’s richest economy, the USA, 3.5 million citizens experience homelessness in a year. 18% of US citizens have no medical insurance. Some 50 million Americans struggle with hunger at any one time.

Those are the real “…comforts of 21st century civilization!!!”

Finally the very real threat of another war engulfing much of the world is never too far away in this 21C idyll in which we exist. Since it is so backward and that Africa has contributed the least to many of the great achievements of the 21C will this undeserving continent then be excluded from the great comforts such as global warming; air and water pollution; and destruction in a nuclear holocaust?

A Definite Disconnect Between the Wealthy and the Poor

Kate Humble the star of the TV programme, Lambing Live, believes food is too cheaply priced. Humble argues that the public does not value food due to its cheapness and the fact they are disconnected from the farming process.

These are the views of a successful TV presenter who is married to a TV director both of whom also own a 117-acre, ex-council, farm in Trellech, Monmouth. So little fear of food banks for these two.

Kate Humble in the haystack in which she lives with the lambs she purchased  from 'Lambs 'R' Us'
OK, Mz Humble let’s apply your logic generally. Firstly we’ll raise the cost of farm labourers because you do not value them due to their cheapness and the fact you are so disconnected from their financial needs. Then we’ll raise the duty on agricultural diesel, as it’s obvious that you haven’t a clue about the oil industry, thinking that diesel simply comes from a tanker; and you’re totally disconnected from the intricate process of fuel taxation.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Ignorantia legis neminem excusat - unless you're a government Minister

Mrs Miller is the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; and has been an MP since 2005. This means she has worked in the Westminster village for almost a decade. That’s almost ten years in a job that involves the making and enacting of laws.

Yet, like so many of her parliamentary associates Mrs Miller appears unable to distinguish between right and wrong herself. How is it that MPs, people for whom the law is an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, have such difficulties in understanding their own expenses procedures?

Mrs Miller making her less than contrite apology -
not for claiming £40,000 more than her entitlement,
but for her attitude towards an inquiry into her expenses

As a rule ignorantia legis neminem excusat, unless you’re a government minister. In which case a fraudulent claim in excess of £45,000 can be reduced to a repayment of £5,800; with a less than contrite 30-second long apology that sounded more like a stroppy teenager’s ‘whatever!’

Yet while MPs are allowed to get away with cheating on a vast scale, benefits’ fraud of under £20 K can carry a prison sentence of up to 12 months. There is talk of increasing the sentence for benefits’ fraud to ten years. In supporting such Draconian sentencing the political director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, Jonathan Isaby argues that:

"This is people stealing from taxpayers - stealing from vulnerable people. A message needs to go out that this is unacceptable and increasing sentences will act as a deterrent."

Most of us know the ‘us and them’ model which underpins most areas of life in Britain. All that the Miller case does is to confirm that it extends to Parliament. So Us and Them-ism runs through education, employment, health, housing, welfare, policing, the judiciary and Parliament. Good to know those at the top are able to maintain consistency.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Turn Left, Labour

"Ed Miliband risks losing next election and Unite support, says Len McCluskey

Labour is at a crossroads and may lose union's financial backing if it offers 'pale shade of austerity', general secretary warns"

In the 2015 general election voters may feel, 'Why change buses half way through the journey when both buses are headed to the same garage?'

The Labour Party is in need of an epiphany; whilst Ed Milband could do with a road to Damascus experience...and soon!