The puzzle that is Frances Ryan

It may well be that things should be better than this. Possibly even that we should all be paying more tax to make it so. And yet, as ever, there’s something missing in Frances Ryan’s understanding of the world:

These days, Ruth sleeps on plastic sheets. A spinal cord injury means she is doubly incontinent. One of her lower legs has been amputated, she has osteoporosis, and she leans on two crutches to walk. Social care used to be the saving grace of each difficult week. Two hours each weekday were set aside to help her wash and do the laundry after an accident, or to help her go to visit friends. But for the four years after 2012, Ruth’s care time was repeatedly cut, year on year, all the way down to just one two-hour slot a week.

In 2016, she fell in her kitchen. The crash to the floor was so severe that she broke her back. That led the council to agree to a carer coming over every day – but only for a “15-minute pop-in” slot in the morning and at night. “It means they have enough time to make a cup of coffee, or do some washing up. But that’s it,” Ruth says.

Without a care assistant to help with her incontinence, Ruth has no way to clean herself or change her bedding. “I try my best with wet wipes,” she explains. She doesn’t use sheets and a duvet any more because if she was wet at night, she would have to stay in soaked linen for days. Instead, Ruth sleeps on incontinence sheets and pulls a blanket over herself for a bit of comfort.

Tell your average Bubba out there on the production line that incontinent sleeps on incontinent sheets and the reaction will be?

Well, quite.

This is presented as being a scandal crying to the very heavens for rectification. Everyone else will agree that it’s all very sad but and? Isn’t that what incontinence sheets are for? Even adult nappies? So that incontinents can sleep in/on them?

18 thoughts on “The puzzle that is Frances Ryan”

  1. So she’d get over £145 a week extra in benefits towards extra costs associated with her disability.
    How much is a carer for an hour every day paid for by her?

    Or if someone takes on her care they can get benefit themselves (OK its nowhere near a wage) for looking after her, separate from her benefit.

    Councils have lots of demand for care including from people with more care needs. Perhaps if they had less waste? But in the meantime the council has limited money and limited political will to get more money.

  2. Shit happens.

    A lot of shit happens all over the world.

    There’s no way I can make all of it go away. There’s no way anyone can make all of it go away.

    I don’t personally create any of the shit that happens so I think I’m doing my bit and I refuse to feel guilty about any of it.

    these sorts of articles are just shroud waving and virtual signalling. The author will forget about the subject just as quickly as I will.

    The only difference is that I admit I don’t care and they pretend they do to make themselves feel better about themselves.

  3. Councils have lots of demand for care including from people with more care needs. Perhaps if they had less waste? But in the meantime the council has limited money and limited political will to get more money.

    I agree with the waste, not the limited money. They routinely piss shit loads of taxpayers’ money down the toilet. Current one here has been implementing 20mph schemes all over. Lives and money could have been spent far more productively.

  4. I have recently had personal experience of home care, as it was provided (very briefly) to my father on his leaving hospital. Its the classic case of chiefs and indians. There are lots of ‘managers’ (all women, the whole thing is staffed by women) who swan around doing ‘assessments’ and having ‘meetings’ with ‘clients’ who achieve absolutely nothing. They are well paid manager types, not one arse gets wiped from their efforts. The actual people doing the arse wiping are thin on the ground, and not well paid. This was the case in the hospital too – everyone swanning around peering at iPads filling in forms and having meetings, no-one doing any actual patient care, of the ‘making sure people eat and drink properly, are comfortable and cleaning up after they’ve pissed themselves’ type.

    The entire NHS and Elderly Care system is largely a make work scheme for middle class women who want a well paid job but don’t want to get their hands dirty doing the icky bits of caring for the sick and elderly. You could strip 90% of them out of the process entirely, replace the 10% with a few sergeant major type men (the old style matrons were honorary men in effect) and it would work just as if not far more efficiently. Plus there would be extra cash for recruiting more of the workers who do the dirty work.

    There is no lack of money or staff in the NHS – its just that a huge proportion of the staff they have are doing absolutely nothing that helps look after people and improve their health.

  5. “Tell your average Bubba out there on the production line …”

    It’s not just Frances Ryan’s understanding of the world that there’s something missing in.

  6. My experience in my father’s final weeks was exactly what Jim’s talking about. Having had to deal with it for the final 6 weeks of his life, his “incontinence assessment” commenced two days before he died. The entries were: Zero in. Zero out.
    I’d reckon the care incompetence assessment would have been close to 100% though.
    And no, it’s not just a matter of sleeping on incontinence sheets. The “accidents” get everywhere. Clothing, the bedcovers, towels, the sufferer… Essentially it’s a machine load & a bed-bath, every accident. And then there’s the bedsores…
    I got through it on missing a lot of sleep & several hundred a week on paid for assistance. Heaven knows what you do without money.

  7. I’m assuming most local authorities must be awash with cash if they can continue to provide extremely valuable (and extremely expensive to fund) defined benefit pensions for all the staff. Maybe it’s just a question of priorities.

  8. perhaps if we wern’t shelling out on benefits for stuff like adhd perhaps we’d have more money to spend on ruth.
    @Jim when i was in hospital for a cancer op – there were plenty of electronic gadgets flying around – but could i get a decent firm mattress for my bed that didn’t leave me with excrutiating back pain. The mattresses supllied look like they cost a fiver and had no support whatsover.

  9. The fundamental problem with social care is the ideological emphasis is on autonomy.

    So the elderly, cripples, retarded and nutters are encouraged (if not forced) to live “independently” with some “support” in their own homes “in the community”. Mostly, they get inadequate support; so the rest of us get dribbling inadequates in need of help – or even homicidal nutters on the rampage.

    As a result of the ideological emphasis on autonomy, many genuine charities who provided a half-way house between living alone and a care home (in the jargon, sheltered accommodation or supported sheltered housing) have had to close, re-trench or move into providing home care (with a council contract).

    Community care has been an expensive disaster. Time to move back to a more centralised and institutional model.

  10. @ Jim
    You do need actually people doing assessments in order to allocate someone to do the arse-wiping or installing stair-lifts or providing wheelchairs or …
    Should they be paid a lot of money? That is debatable but it’s worth noting that most Social Workers in Hertfordshire are either supported by higher-earning husbands or commute in from cheaper places (sometimes both). There are a few guys but most guys cannot afford to live around here on a Social Worker’s pay.
    A lot of their time is wasted on people driving BMWs who want the County to pay for their/their parents’ care which they can well afford – cut out greedy cheats and there might be more to spend on actual carers. If you’ve got a house worth a £m or even half-a-million you don’t need Joe Bloggs or Tommy Atkins to subsidise your stay in a hotel (which is what most “Residential Care Homes” amount to).

  11. @ Theophrastus
    Actually the ideological emphasis is on the right of the individual to choose, not on autonomy per se. Many individuals will choose autonomy even when “we” think it is not in their best interests. And autonomy will be better served by “Sheltered Housing” than a Care Home.
    Care in the Community is not expensive but has been underfunded even despite that. Sheltered Housing has been around for half-a-century – I can remember my mother talking about the local projects in the late 60s/early 70s.
    It is noticeable – if you bother to look – that certain councils choose to cut back on services that will get a reaction of outrage from the public while others seek to economise. Hertfordshire has not closed a single library while some Labour-controlled councils have generated outrage by closing libraries while protecting staff salaries.

  12. @ Craig
    You may not have noticed that the Cameron government did – despite the LimpDems – make a modest reform so that the LGPS now is on an average salary basis going forward which is fairer than the old one where the top bosses got massive pensions based on final salary despite having only paid contributions based on average salary.
    At current interest rates the pension contribution for a middle-aged woman is about 40% of nominal salary while the contribution rate is 5.5% (for the lowest-paid) to 12.5% (for the highest-paid)

  13. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    Quite right Jim.

    My Mum is going through this now. She is constantly being “assessed”, I have actually lost count of how many irritating women have come around to tick a few boxes.
    She needs help in the morning and can only get 1/2 hour ( which is prob enough ). The last offer was for a helper to come in at 11am ! After turning this down, her case has been passed onto another outsourced firm and a girl will now come round at 9am (after yet another assessment). She will have to pay for this as she receves attendance allowance. Fair enough, that is why the state gives her the money.

    John77 has a point that the children “ought” to look after their parents, but the state promises us this care – at least the countless women with clipboards do – if the care wasn’t available thorugh the county council, or only in the most dire circumstances, then people would have to make their own arrangements.

  14. Jim, father in law was in hospital for a week a bit over 2 years ago. After a few months he was released. He was assessed every time they moved him between wards and after a few weeks they arranged to have handrails fitted both sides of the stairs – despite the problems that caused me. Handrails hurt when you hit them on the way to the floor.
    So 2 women came out they came to measure and produced a plan for a guy to follow.

    The guy came and was baffled, the plan called for rails to go up the stairs and to the bedroom – blocking off my bedroom and the bathroom from all 3 of us unless we bent under them.

    So he fitted them on the stairs.

    Then two women badgered him into agreeing he needed help at home. Wasn’t hard, he’d been having a bit of help from his daughter for years. They did another assessment and came up with carers 4 times a day. I argued against that – for my own security I won’t have strangers traipsing through the house while I’m asleep. Social worker threatened my wife with imprisonment when she attended a meeting, I was got on the phone told her it wasn’t happening and put phone down on social worker.

    After bedblocking for months he eventually came home, very frail now and a lot less active. Had eventually got physio agreed due to him being weak – the physio staff were amazed someone had requested them, he could do everything they wanted. And shocked that some idiot had demanded external carers 4 times a day for a guy whose daughter was his carer.

    If left up to the bullying tactics of the NHS and the idiotic social worker we’d have either had a police siege or wasting thousands of pounds on care he didn’t need and didn’t want.

    Never mind the thousands of pounds wasted in bedblocking and the lost work hours from my wife visiting her dad in hospital twice a day. He only went in for a week. He stayed months.

    I was in hospital last year. A week of very limited food intake, around 500 calories a day and much of what they served inedible. I’m a good cook and study cooking, I’d have trouble doing food as raw / undercooked / out of date as two hospitals managed most meals. I know what stew should taste like, I don’t like having to dig through a layer of oil to get to the gruel.

  15. @ BnLiA
    The state promises us NHS care but not Social Care. Social Care is means-tested.
    Lots of lefties tell us that the state *should* pay for Social Care because MMT says that the state has infinite resources.
    When my mother-in-law was slowly dying Social Worker came round, assessed her condition, started asking about income, was told “No, I can pay for it” so saved a hour or so by not going through that set of forms and put her in contact with Care Agencies who could provide the help she needed and someone providing O2 cylinders; sister-in-law continued to drop in twice a week when it was feasible, we went over most weekends, neighbours did her shopping, helped with gardening …

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