Dear Ms Ogley,
I am writing to you in your capacity of ADASS President.
I wrote to you and all Directors on September 6 to urge action to address the perniciousness of the eligibility process. I have previously set out the evidence base for action to your two immediate predecessors, but to no avail. I am appealing afresh to you.
Barnet’s audacity in telling certain people that remaining in their own home is no more than a ‘wish’ shames us all. The shame deepens when it is said the inevitable result of having to go into residential care is the person’s own choice. The choice, made at a time of great fear and anxiety, is between residential care or perishing in their own home. It’s an offer they cannot refuse. Hobson’s choice is no choice. While for some people residential care authentically offers the best level of wellbeing, that cannot be said for those offered it because it is the most ‘cost effective’ option for the council.
To the shame is added the deeply troubling realisation that to the Council, there is nothing untoward in their decision to save large amounts of money in this way. Crucially, it is nothing more than an extension of established policy and practice.
With policy and practice rooted in their Eligibility Policy, they are, of course, quite right. But this shows how the eligibility process damages not only service users, but practitioners and managerial colleagues too. The system desensitises you to the real pain and realities of the lives of the people you serve. The numbers directly affected by Barnet’s decision, however few, are merely the tip of the iceberg.
Barnet is not in any way different or unique. Their approach is entirely consistent with national policy and practice. All they have done is let the cat out the bag.
I urge to you use your Presidency to promote debate about the need for change, however difficult, painful and risky. The Care Act has created the legislative context for honourable practice and policy. National policy, in the form of the Statutory Guidance, thwarts that. It requires, instead, dishonourable practices. The aim must be that practitioners and managers can finally live up to the rhetoric of being on the side of service users and carers.
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