Tuesday, 19 January 2016

What value is there in continuous testing and assessing of disabled people?

Last year when it became obvious this government were not going to move on its closure programme of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) along with thousands of other ILF recipients I grimly realized that my life could be turned upside down.

However, I was quite relieved when at my care package review in April that my LA agreed to join my ILF payments with the LA budget. In fact, due in part to my campaigning Lambeth pledged to continue paying ILF budgets at their current level to all 43 recipients in the borough.

Though happy at the time, I was still very much aware that in 12 months I would be receiving another review; and that in all likelihood this review would seek ways to cut back my social care and support package.

People in receipt of social care and support packages undergo two sets of assessments or reviews each year. The first is a needs assessment. This process identifies care and support needs; and it then seeks outcomes to these needs. The second assessment is a financial process. This checks income and savings in order to determine whether the service user makes a contribution to their care or if they are ‘zero rated’. These assessments take place annually.

Yesterday I received a call from a social worker who introduced herself and went on to explain her role; and she then asked when we could meet to carry out the annual review of my care package.

ME: “In April, that’s when my annual review is due.”
SW: “You don’t understand I need to see if your needs have changed before April.”
ME: “Yes, I do understand the function of an annual needs assessment, or in this case annual needs review, it is to determine whether my needs are being met by my current care package. Or most likely where you can make cuts…”
SW: “Mr McGovern, we are obliged by law to carry out a review annually.”
ME: “Yes, I agree. Call me back in April when I’m due the review, not nine months into the annual period.

Let me explain something to you. As a disabled person I’m sick and tired of being continually tested, reviewed and assessed for this benefit or that service. If it isn’t my care package being reviewed it was ILF, or my Blue Badge, or Access to Work, or the Freedom Pass, or TaxiCard, or, when my time comes, being taken off DLA and having to apply for PIP.

This is besides routine GP appointments to monitor diabetes, visiting the asthma clinic and the respiratory nurse for spirometer tests, periodically attending hospital for neuro-physio, having US tests on my testes and going for CAT scans to monitor a benign growth on my left lung, and now, realizing that I’ve been suffering from depression for the past few months and having to arrange for a course of consultations to prop up my mental health.

A depression brought about by the uncertainty of my health coupled to real chance of me losing both benefits and services as a result of the vicious austerity cuts going on around me.
SW: “OK Mr McGovern. Maybe I’ll call back in April…”


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