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Care & carers

North Devon Social Services

(21 Posts)
sunseeker Sun 23-Oct-16 13:35:22

I have a friend who is the sole carer for his wife who has MS and recently diagnosed with dementia. He tells me he can get no help whatever from North Devon Social Services, even when she had a fall and hurt her hip he couldn't get an ambulance to come out and had to drive her to the hospital himself, they live in quite a rural area. He has now been told she will need special food as she has difficulty swallowing, for which there is no budget and which he will have to pay for. They have no family and he is completely on his own taking care of her. I have very little knowledge of social services but find it hard to understand why he cannot get any help at all. Does anyone have any advice I can pass on to him?

miep Sun 23-Oct-16 13:38:44

Not advice, but sympathy. South Devon Social Services are no better!

Luckygirl Sun 23-Oct-16 14:36:21

She is a vulnerable adult and as such is entitled to a Comnunity Care Assessment from SS - in law they cannot refuse this. I think it may now have a new name - ?Care and Support Assessment.

He is entitled to a Carers' Assessment.

I think this is the link that you need:

Have these 2 assessments been made and care then refused? If they have not been done, he should request them; if they have been done and no help offered, he should request both from SSD.

He should know if they have been done as he would have been asked to sign them.

I used to advise my clients to speak to a solicitor - one letter, or even the threat of a letter usually got people to put their skates on!

I am not sure whether there are specific foods for those with swallowing problems, but there are certainly prescribable nutritional supplements; and the usual process is that meals are simply liquidised. There is also a powder that can be prescribed to make water thicker so tablets are easier to swallow - my OH has this as he has PD. The professional who deals with swallowing problems is a speech therapist....
"Community – anyone can ask to be seen by a speech and language therapist to see if we can help. Please see the contacts below.
Where service is provided
We are based in the following hospitals or health centres:-
Barnstaple Health Centre
01271 371761 ext 620
South Molton Community Hospital 01769 572164
Holsworthy Community Hospital
01409 253424
Ilfracombe Tyrell Hospital
01271 863448
Bideford Community Hospital
01237 420235
North Devon District Hospital
01271 322388
Further information
Adult Speech and Language Therapy
Barnstaple Health Centre
Vicarage Street
North Devon
EX32 7BH
Tel: 01271 371761"

Lots of good luck to them both.

Jalima Sun 23-Oct-16 14:50:20

The same in the Bristol area; a 96 year old relative was taken to hospital, then they wanted to discharge her into the care of her frail 98 year old DH. They have no surviving DC.
Extended family told the hospital he could not possibly care for her and she stayed in hospital until a nursing home place was found, unfortunately not that near their home but there is hope that she will be moved soon. The onset of her dementia has been very rapid and distressing.

Good luck, I hope they get the help they deserve, sometimes you have to find out the facts (well done Luckygirl) and stand your ground.

Luckygirl Sun 23-Oct-16 14:50:36

Sorry - I went a bit off piste there - if he has had the assessments, but has been refused care he should approach SSD about their appeals process.

sunseeker Sun 23-Oct-16 15:19:30

Thank you for the advice - I will pass it on.

sunseeker Tue 25-Oct-16 11:16:29

Having passed on the advice to my friend he tells me he is aware of the assessments, however, to have them he and his wife have to attend the hospital. As I said before they live in a rural area and due to her condition his wife is unable to travel for more than 20 minutes at a time so the journey to hospital (with stops) would be a 3 hour round trip in addition to the length of time spent at the hospital. This has been explained several times but they have been marked down as refusing to attend, which I assume is why he is unable to get any help. Any further advice please?

Jalima Tue 25-Oct-16 11:26:27

Why can they not send a social worker out to them for the assessments?
The trouble is, when people are old, frail and feeling vulnerable, the last thing they need is to have to keep on explaining over and over again why they cannot attend the hospital for these assessments.

sunseeker Tue 25-Oct-16 11:35:46

He tells me he was told that previously there would have been someone who called to the home but this has apparently been stopped due to cut backs, but surely if he wasn't a driver a social worker or health professional would have to call at the house. There must be something he can do to get some help. He is rapidly going downhill himself as he is now severely depressed and struggling to cope with the day to day care of his wife.

Jalima Tue 25-Oct-16 11:40:54

Is there a local community hospital nearer than 1.5 hours away and will they do the assessment there?
Does it have to be at the main hospital?

sunseeker Tue 25-Oct-16 11:43:57

He has been told they must attend Exeter hospital.

Jalima Tue 25-Oct-16 11:45:26

What they (or you) need to do is to get names of the people they speak to and log the calls, then speak to someone higher up.

Shanma Tue 25-Oct-16 14:41:40

Sunseeker, I live in a different part of the Country, but it is my understanding that if the person needing the carer's assessment cannot travel in order to let that take place then the SS/Council are duty bound to come to them. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

The trouble is with all of these things, on the whole they are not made easy for people. This drives me crazy. I have had to deal with alot of this sort of thing in the past, first for my Parents, and now for my OH. I am fit and well, articulate, and -stubborn- determined. I can fight the case, so to speak. It angers me greatly to hear of people who are to ill, or frail, or timid to be able to stand their corner...what happens to them? they fall through the net is what happens, and that is so wrong angry

Shanma Tue 25-Oct-16 14:43:20

I may be articulate, but seemingly am an idiot when it comes to doing the crossing out thing in GN smile. I meant to cross out stubborn in the above post.

Luckygirl Tue 25-Oct-16 14:54:47

They very definitely do NOT have to attend the hospital for a Care and Support Assessment - that is done by the Social Services Dept and the SW comes out to them, as part of the point is to see them in their own home - I spent about 30 years doing this, so I know of what I speak. They must contact the local SSD and request a home visit as a vulnerable adult and carer. SSD are legally obliged to do this and cannot refuse. If they refuse they are in breach of the law and can be sued. The law does not say that SSD is only obliged to assess if they have a lot of resources,so the cutbacks cut no ice.

Part of the SSD assessment should be by an OT, and they can only do this in their own home.

INSIST - threaten them with contacting a solicitor. SSD are legally obliged to assess anyone who might be vulnerable.
They must not take no for an answer.

Jalima Tue 25-Oct-16 14:57:21

I just wonder who is doing the telling, who is giving out the information in this case.
Either someone who has no clue what the correct procedures are or someone who is trying to fob them off.

Can you be with him when he is trying to deal with this as a supporter?

Luckygirl Tue 25-Oct-16 14:59:57

The same situation arises with Continuing Care Assessments (for whether the health service should pay for care) - people are told things that are blatantly not true just to fob them off - it truly is a disgrace.

sunseeker Tue 25-Oct-16 15:03:11

Thank you once again Luckygirl. I will pass on the information to him. Unfortunately Jalima I can't be with him as I live in a different part of the country - all I can do is offer him moral support (and advice from informed GNs!)

Iam64 Tue 25-Oct-16 20:53:40

Good advice from Luckygirl. As well as a solicitor, I found that if the service user (or the person who wanted a service I should say) wrote to their MP/local counsellor, that politician would write to the Director of Social Services. The Director's response would be an email/phone call to the relevant team manager, with the message 'get it sorted'. I know that the cuts have made resources even more scarce but it's worth a try.

Hilltopgran Wed 26-Oct-16 00:11:13

If you friends are without local support, is there a branch of either the MS society or Altzehimers Society, or failing that Age UK where they could ask for help or support to get assessed by Social Care.

The local MS Society here has an MS specialist nurse who is a great help to friends of mine when they need additional services or support.

Jalima Thu 27-Oct-16 12:37:56

Referring to Iam64's advice re MP or local councillor, I know things are different now, but years ago I tried to get an infestation problem sorted at DC's school, got nowhere with the HT, the Education Authority for months, then approached the local councillor - and it was fixed as a matter of urgency. Of course, the councillor got his photo in the local paper and an article on how he had sorted out the problem at a local school (no mention of me!!) but at least they sorted out the problem quickly!