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Posts tagged ‘Social Services’

The Phone Call

I have been fighting for almost 18 months to get my care package reinstated. According to UK law, if someone moves from one area to another their care package should automatically move with them. This gives people the security of knowing that they will not have to wait for a re-assessment and will continue to get enough care. 

The Care Act 2014 states that the new Local Authority has to continue with a care package for a period of at least 3 months before reviewing. So when I knew I was going to move to my current flat, I made the required phone calls. As I was moving from one Labour run Council to another I expected the process to be simple. How wrong I was.

Whilst my phone calls were logged in my new borough I was told that they they needed three months notice of a move. I was also told that they expected my old borough to pay for my care for the first three months. 

When moving within social housing as I was, it is unusual to get a months notice as I did. Very often a move has to be done within 7-14 days. My old borough, quite rightly, refused to pay for my care once I moved. 

Several very unhelpful phone calls happened. During one, I was told that as I had chosen to move I had no automatic entitlement to care. Explaining that I had moved area after almost 9 years of waiting to get an adapted flat didn’t seem to count. Eventually I was seen by an OT – occupational therapist and a social worker. The OT arranged to get my bathroom adaptations carried out, eventually. Click here and here for the saga.

The SW – social worker demanded lots of letters from all the medical professionals I had seen recently. Then I was told be they wouldn’t accept anything from my current GP as I was still registered with the GP where I used to live. They did not accept evidence from an out of borough GP. I was unable to change GP at that time as I was waiting for spinal surgery and needed continuity of care. 

I did give them permission to contact that GP, which they very reluctantly said they would do. I was horrified to get an email saying my GP informed them I did not need care. When I visited my GP she told me that no such request had been made and no such letter sent. She actually wrote a letter whilst I was with her completely supporting my need for a care package. The letter also stated no previous letter had been sent.

The SW used the “evidence” of the letter she claimed my GP had sent to refuse me care. I asked for a copy of that letter. Of course, I was refused it. I was told I had to ask my GP for a copy. Yes, a copy of a letter that did not exist! How bizarre is that.

Eventually I decided to contact my MP to ask her for help. She was quite horrified at what had happened to me. We made arrangements to meet so I could give her all my documents. Unfortunately shortly afterwards she suffered a family bereavement, so work on my case was delayed. 

Once my MP was back at work she was soon in contact with the Director of Social Services. I now have an email accepting I’m entitled to care. 

But when? How soon? I was contacted in April by another SW. I supplied him with my new GP details and the latest letter I had from my Orthopaedic team. Then heard nothing. 

My MP contacted the Director of Social Services again once she was re-elected. I had another email today – accepting they have done nothing since the April phone call. A response my MP has described as “pathetic!”  Evidently the letter is “too out of date” to be used. I only see that consultant yearly!

I also had a phone call from yet another SW today. It came when I had a neighbour here and I asked the SW to call back at a specified time. Surprisingly she agreed. It is that call which is the headline of this blog.

I was actually shocked that she called back at the agreed time. She seemed professional and wanted to hear what I had to say. But as the call progressed, I became more and more anxious. She constantly cross-questioned why I needed certain treatments. She couldn’t seen to understand that the surgery I had last year won’t enable me to walk around. (It was done to relive a trapped nerve and had had no impact on my back, neck or shoulder pain.) I knew this would be the case and have come to terms with that.

But, every time I’m questioned about why I can’t have this treatment or that operation it puts both my mind and body in a spin. Should I stop accepting how I am? What if there is some miracle surgery that will “cure” me? Have I not seen the right Consultants? I’m left feeling dazed and confused. It has taken me a long time – almost 10 years to get to the acceptance I now have.

I’ve learnt to live with my limitations and mange to enjoy what I can do rather than pining for what will never be possible. What right does anyone have to disrupt my psychological equilibrium? 

My physical reaction from the phone call was all the effects and symptoms of IBS. Several hours later I’m still feeling sick and my stomach continues to gripe. I’m just glad I don’t have to go out tomorrow. 

The next stage of getting assessed depends on the letter I get after I see my spinal consultant on Friday. Officially I shouldn’t even be seen much later this year. But because of my circumstances the surgeon has made an exception and agreed to see me. 

Update to follow……………

Getting the best from your GP – Part 1

Having great interactions

Finding a good GP is essential if you are to get good support and the right medication. It also matters when you need a hospital referral. Because of my nursing background, I also expect visits to my GP be an equal two-way conversation about medication or treatment.

Most GP’s surgeries allow you to order regular medication and book appointments on line. It’s well worth learning how to do this – it really isn’t difficult. Booking non-urgent appointments and ordering medication from home saves time and energy too.

I use the Health app in my iPhone to store all my medical informations. There are similar ones for other phones and they can be accessed even if your phone is locked. If you don’t trust technology make sure you have information available in case of emergency. Some people use Message in a Bottle.

If you have life-threatening conditions or allergies you may want to consider MedicAlert. They do charge a yearly fee, but provide a great service.

1 Do your research

Ask friends and neighbours, especially those with health problems.  If you need a GP who speaks your language, make sure that there are at least two GPs in the practice you choose that you can talk to. The same rule applies if you prefer to always see a woman GP. 

Check the Surgery out on line: the CQC is an indepedent inspection body who rate all GP practices on a variety of standards 

There is a totally independent site. It’s a great place to check. Their reviews are straightforward and give clear percentages for each question.

This NHS run site allows patients to give their own ratings on different services. I don’t find it as helpful as it tends to cite only the best or worse experiences.

2 Don’t think the nearest GP is best

Never chose a Surgery because it’s the nearest one to get to. I have to pass two GP practices to get to see my GP and it’s well worth the extra time. 

My friend Sue who lives the other end of London to me, chose her GP because he was nearby. Sue has type 2 diabetes and in the last 3 months has had 3 leg infections with blisters on her skin. Her GP wouldn’t send her to specialist Diabetic Nurse. He refused to give her a glucose monitoring kit. She was told she couldn’t see a specialist Tissue Viability Nurse about her dressings. She was also told to pay for the wound dressings.

The way she was treated not only broke NHS guidelines, but could have severely endangered her health. Because the NHS is short of money, Sue presumed that what she was being told was ok. She felt she didn’t ‘deserve’ any more care because it was too expensive. I was furious when I heard about this.

I spoke to Sue and explained the care she should be getting. She is now with a better GP. Although the surgery is a 10 minute bus ride away, Sue is getting referred to the right specialists and she will get the right care.

3 Speak to a GP before signing up

If at all possible, ask to speak with one of the GPs at the practice you are considering. This is especially important if you have a rare condition or multiple interacting conditions. You can often get an idea of they way you will be treated in future by the response you get to your request.

Also GPs who are training practices are often more up to date on new treatments and complex conditions. 

4 Find more than one good GP

Most GPs work in group practice settings. So whilst you maybe registered with a specific GP you can be seen by any GP who works there. You will probably easily find one GP who you have a great rapport with. But, GPs have holidays, are sick themselves or they go on training courses. So find at least one more GP in your practice who will know you and can look after you if you need something urgent when your GP is away. 

5 The power of paper

When seeing a new GP or hospital doctor for the first time I always take with me a concise medical history of the 12 operations I’ve had as an adult, my current medication and the allergies I have. This paper also lists the 8 conditions I’ve been diagnosed with and a summary of my current issues. This makes consultations much more focussed and doesn’t waste valuable time going over irrelevant stuff. It also means the Doctor has everything in front of them if they need to write referral letters or evidence letters for Social Services and the DWP.

Part 2 coming soon.


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