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.   

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