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Knowing what you want

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It is assumed by most people that the hard part of getting social care is the assessment process, fighting for what you need and then obtaining it in terms of a specific number of hours from a care agency, or having the cash equivalent as a direct payment to employ your own personal assistants, but I would like to suggest that is the easy part. The hard part is actually what you are going to do with the hours you have to make the most of them.

The reality is the average care plan is quite vague in how a care and support package should actually work on a day to day basis, other than simply how many hours are provided and when. There will be a list of needs to be met within these hours, but the precise routine is left to the individual to determine. This is where support planning should come into play but again, the reality is very few people have access to this intensive next step.

So the first thing for anyone receiving care and support needs to do, regardless of whether they have a care agency or employ their own staff, is to decide what on earth they want to do with the hours they have to make the most of them. The general public, especially families of people needing care and support, assume having a care worker especially is a passive thing. You simply wait for them to come without any preparation and then wait for them to read your care plan and then simply obey their instructions like a child.

This portrayal of social care is why there has been a big concern about 15 minute calls, and those raising concerns make a good argument, but it is not how it has to be. Ignoring the morality of 15 minute calls for now, if you are able to shower yourself but you simply need assistance with drying and dressing, if you had a 15 minute call, you could time your shower so you are getting out just as the care worker came in (assuming they had a key) so you got straight down to drying and dressing, possibly providing you with a few spare minutes to use on helping you with something else.

It is therefore important for individuals to know what they want done in any care situation so they can take control of the support they are paying for, directly or indirectly. By being prepared they can make the most of the often limited time people may have to get what they want done in terms with what has been agreed in their care plan. Therefore, we need to end the notion of passive recipients of care, even when someone is deemed to lack capacity, and empower service users to take ownership and responsibility for making the most of the care and support they receive.