Doug Paulley

Wheelchair user and residential care user, sometimes thorn in the side of authorities.

Jun 112016
 

For all requests for media interviews, comment etc. please contact Natalie Rodgers[email protected]@Natalie_Scala07881 780608

Jun 092016
 

There’s a lot of interest in the court case being heard in the Supreme Court next Wednesday, 15th June 2016FirstGroup Plc (Respondent) v Paulley (Appellant), on “the reasonable adjustments which a bus company is required to make to accommodate disabled wheelchair users.” The number of wheelchair users supporting this case is humbling. It creates practical problems for the Court due to the number of wheelchair users who would very much like to be there.

The Court have been exceptionally helpful in working out how many wheelchair users they can accommodate. They’ve removed benches to make as many wheelchair spaces as possible, so the limiting factor is how many people they can evacuated in an emergency via their two lifts. They can take 14 wheelchair users: 8 in the court room and 6 in another room with live video link. (This is more than in any other court that I’m aware of, and for that matter most other public buildings.)

The Court have worked with the legal team to work out the least unfair way of allocating these limited spaces. (We’re in a classical dilemma: we have to attempt to choose the least worst “solution” as no solution is acceptable. There will always be more wheelchair users wanting to attend than can actually be accommodated.)

I’d like to sit in the court room if possible 🙂 so that leaves another seven wheelchair spaces in the courtroom. The legal team and I wanted to make sure that wheelchair users who have had a particular, personal impact through supporting our case and/or me (through its very long 4½ years history!) can be present, so after much agonising and soul-searching we have decided to allocate those seven spaces to specific, named people.

I very much don’t want to give the impression that we are selecting “the great and the good” or in any way dissing disabled people’s amazing support for the case (and for me). It has overwhelmed me, and moved me to tears, that so many disabled people have shown such incredible support for this case. We’re not intending on creating a “hierarchy” or saying that some are more important than others; it’s not our intention at all. This is just a practical measure, partly for my support on the day (I shall be extremely nervous!), and to deal with the fact that there are limited wheelchair spaces. So I very much hope wheelchair users wanting to attend aren’t too upset or disappointed that these spaces are reserved.

There remain the other six spaces in the separate room with a live video link. In an unprecedented move (after discussion with my legal team), the Supreme Court have decided to run a ballot. This is partly at my suggestion, as otherwise there would be a “first come first served” approach, where the first six wheelchair users in the queue would be allocated the spaces. I didn’t think that would be fair, as many disabled people are limited by realities of care provision and accessible transport as to how early they can get to the court. Also I don’t want disabled people to have to wait outside in whatever weather at horrendous o’clock in the morning (particularly as there would still be a chance that they still wouldn’t get in.)

Details of the ballot are on the Supreme Court website. People wishing to attend should email or phone the Court to give their name and contact details, by 5pm on Monday (13th June 2016). Then at 5pm on Monday, the Court will draw names out of a hat and will contact those that have been successful. Wheelchair users who have not been contacted will not be able to sit in the Court.

The phone number to register is 020 7960 1500 (or as people using text relay will know, 18001 020 7960 1500 for minicom / NGT users) and the email address is [email protected]. Please tell them that you wish to register your name for the ballot for the Firstbus case wheelchair spaces.

Those not able to attend in person will be able to watch and listen to the Court proceedings live on the Supreme Court website. The video footage will also be available to watch on their website from Thursday, 16th June.

Access details

The Supreme Court website has some access details, but I visited the Supreme Court myself on Tuesday to have a recce.

The hearing is in the biggest court room, Room 1. I understand that it can accommodate 80 non-wheelchair users, on top of the 8 wheelchair spaces. The wheelchair spaces are at the back (except for me, as I will sit with “my” lawyers at the front.) I tested the loop system with the staff; it is a very good loop system. It is a little quieter right at the back (which is obviously not great for wheelchair users with hearing impairments). I raised this with the staff, and they are attempting to move the equipment so that the back has better coverage. The lighting in the room is good.

The alternative room with the live video feed has moveable chairs, so you can rearrange them if necessary. When I was there the television didn’t have an audio loop on it; but the staff are working on putting one in before the hearing. As far as we are aware, there will not be BSL interpretation or live speech to text reporting.

There is level access at the front door, but then a wheelchair lift or a short flight of stairs. Visitors will be searched before being allowed into the building. Both the Courtroom and the alternative room are accessible by lift. There are two lifts (one operable by anybody, the other only by staff with the relevant key card.) Each lift can accommodate one wheelchair user at a time, plus perhaps two or three non-wheelchair users.

There are three wheelchair-accessible toilets. These seem to be Part M compatible. The space next to the pan is clear and the emergency red cords hang down to the floor. They are on the ground floor, the second floor (where our courtroom is) and the lower ground floor (where the cafe is.) There are also regular toilets on the second floor and the lower ground floor. There isn’t a Changing Places toilet and there is no hoist.

There is a café which serves limited snacks and hot and cold drinks, and souvenirs etc. This has moveable seating and good lighting.

NB: the above are my amateur observations and I am not an access surveyor. For more detailed information, I recommend you contact the Supreme Court.

I’m very excited! and hope all goes well.

May 292016
 

Back in July 2014, whilst on a day trip to Whitby, I ate at the Angel Wetherspoons’ pub. I sent this tweet.

Wetherspoons responded by pulling the CCTV of our meal and interviewing the waitress. They indicated that the portion size was within one standard deviation of the mean of their standard so they were content with the size of the portion. They accounted for my disapproval with the observation that I had been eating for precisely 2 minutes and 17 seconds when I took the photo, and stated that the waitress had testified that I had not indicated any displeasure to her at the time of the meal.

I was impressed with this commitment to customer satisfaction, so when I attended The Corryvreckan (Wetherspoons’ pub in Oban) whilst on holiday last week, I decided to support their analysis with the provision of data from another sample. This is therefore a comparative study of the size of Wetherspoons’ Steak and Kidney pudding meal.

meal diameter The diameter of the meal is approximately 18cm, on a patterned plate of approximately 25cm. The surface area of a plate of diameter d is approximately (πd2)/4, or in this case 490cm2. Of that, approximately 250cm2 was obscured by food or by the gravy pot, that being an occlusion of approximately 51% of the plate. This appears to be roughly equivalent to that of Whitby in 2014; though I note that the practice of providing a gravy boat may give the impression of more food than previously.
 The chips appear to be distributed on the plate in a pseudo-random distribution. The average depth of food on the plate is therefore difficult to estimate, but is perhaps a mean of 1 or 2 centimetres from the deepest point.  chup thickness
 pie diameter 2  The pudding varies in diameter between 7cm at its “base” (the top in this picture) to 10cm at its “top” (the bottom in this picture.) The pudding is approximately 6cm in height. Using the reasonable approximation of a cylinder of diameter 8.5cm, its volume can therefore be approximated using the formula volume=(πd2h)/4=340cm3. The density of cooked ground beef is approximately 1.03gcm-3, essentially indistinguishable from the density of distilled water at standard temperature and pressure (1gcm-3), so I estimate the mass of the pudding is approximately 340g. Comparative research of other single portion steak and kidney pies reveals that this is within an order of magnitude of expectation.
 pie height  pie diameter
 There were precisely 30 chips, varying in length between 2cm and 12cm, with a median length of perhaps 8cm. There was therefore approximately 2.4m of chip on the plate.  chip length
 chip thickness  The average thickness of each chip was 0.64mm. Given the presence of some outliers with tapered ends, I am estimating the total volume of the chips on the plate as being 240cm x 0.6cm x 0.6cm or 86.4cm3. Fried potatoes have a density of 449Kg/m3, or approximately 0.5gcm-3, so I estimate the total mass of chips to be approximately 43g.

Research indicates that the average portion of cooked chips is 200g, and that a few chips either way can make large cost differences. I frankly suspect some scrimping here.

 There were 169 peas. They averaged 0.45cm in diameter. The volume of a sphere of diameter d is (πd3)/6, so each pea measured approximately 0.047cm3. The total peaage was therefore approximately 8cm3.

The NHS states that the “five a day” portions of veg can include “three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables”. A heaped tablespoon is 30cm3. This is therefore about a third of a portion of peas on that plate.

The density of cooked peas is 0.68gcm-3. The mass of peas was therefore approximately 5.5g.

 peas
 pie level  The gravy boat is a new addition since 2014. The depth of the gravy is approximately 3.5cm.

The average individual portion of gravy is approximately 50cm3.  For the gravy boat to hold that amount, it would have to have a surface area of perhaps 14cm2. I estimate that the surface area of this gravy portion exceeds this and therefore we are on the up.

But not all the gravy got eaten, as I was not furnished with a spoon.

 The total mass of the pudding, the peas and the chips was therefore approximately 390g.

The average eating rate varies substantially by individual, food type and circumstances but is approximately 100g per minute. This meal would therefore take the average person approximately 4 minutes to eat.

Of course, because I was being sarcastic and pissing about with a camera and a ruler, it took me substantially longer.

 tally
  drinkheight  My blackcurrant and soda was approximately 11cm in height and the glass was approximately 5.5cm in diameter. Its volume = (πd2h)/4 = 260ml, or just less than half an imperial pint.
 But, of course, some of that was taken up by ice cubes. There were 5, with an average size of 1.5cm. The total volume of ice was therefore 5 x 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 = approximately 17ml.

In approximately half of cases, restaurant ice has over 1,000 colliform bacteria per cube (i.e. faecal bacteria) and is thus more contaminated than toilet water.

On average, there was therefore probably 2,500 poo-based bacteria in the ice cubes in that glass.

 ice cube size
 receipt length  The receipt varied from 19cm in length to 20.5cm, at a width of 8cm. The total surface area of the receipt was therefore 164cm2. At an assumed weight of 58gm-2, the paper weighed approximately 9mg – or approximately a billionth of the mass of this European oak tree.

Conclusion

I hope that this comparative study of the dimensional composition of my meal is to the exacting standards of Wetherspoons and contributes to their body of statistical analysis of their meal – and I look forward to their prompt analysis as to whether their Oban staff complied with Wetherspoons’ evil corporate penny-pinching control-freak bollocks.

Leonard Cheshire’s bonfire of user empowerment

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Apr 272016
 

Governance failures

charities02-opinionI’ve already noted all is not well at Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD): the Chief Executive and the Head of HR left at no notice. (LCD’s PR team told a Third Sector magazine journalist that Pelham would stay on until replaced, but now LCD refute having said any such thing.) Now the Interim Chief Executive has announced that she’s leaving LCD too as soon as LCD appoints a new CEO (anticipated in September / October.)

We now know why this is happening: LCD have a £750,000 hole in their budget for the year. (They primarily blame the National “Living” Wage for this; though we know that they did precious little to prepare for the increased wage bill – and what they did claim to do was proven to be a lie.) The new Chair of the Trustees has conducted exit interviews of senior staff, whom have been very forthright about Clare Pelham. It is widely acknowledged that Clare was only motivated by the wish to become “Lady Pelham”. LCD have lost industry confidence due to pervasive doubts about their governance – a large consultancy decided not to bid for a contract valued at £200,000 per year due to their significant concerns about LCD’s management competence.

The senior directors aren’t any loss; but the other staff LCD’s making redundant most definitely are – both in the homes they are closing and elsewhere.

In earlier years, LCD had a reasonably successful “Service User Support Team” (SUST). These disabled employees worked as facilitators and mentors throughout the UK, tasked with empowering service users to achieve greater independence. This had some moderate success. As one (charming) resident in a LCD care home put it:

Every time I see a cabbage it reminds me that I could still have been in the cabbage patch myself, if I hadn’t been persuaded that there was a life for me outside.

Leonard Cheshire obviously couldn’t let a moderately successful user empowerment project stay unmolested, so they attempted to shut it down. There was an outcry, so in the end LCD just got rid of most of the employees, leaving a vestigial staff of 14 isolated disabled people dotted round the country, in the renamed “Customer Support Team” (CST). Each part-time staff member was charged with single-handedly empowering hundreds of care home residents and domiciliary care service users across their (massive) patch. Despite being manifestly overstretched and under resourced, they made a genuine difference to disabled people’s lives, because these workers genuinely cared about the rights of Leonard Cheshire’s service users.

Disabled user empowerment workers made redundant

"And when we want your opinion, we'll tell you what it is!" - "Federation of Charities for the Disabled"Leonard Cheshire are annihilating them. LCD has cut the Customer Support Team budget from £450,000 to £0,000 overnight. LCD is starting a sham “consultation” on 9th May (a bit like their sham “consultation” on the closure of Honresfeld home) but as there is no money, it is pretty clear that LCD will make all CST staff redundant. (Some have already announced their redundancy.)

The reason LCD gave for this budget cut is that its trustees took so long to consider the team’s future (over 5 months) that its budget for 2016/17 was still undecided come April 1st. That would be bad enough if it was genuine; however I note that £450,000 p.a. is a significant saving towards the £750,000 deficit, and I suspect this is the real reason. Meanwhile the “consultation” can’t start until 9th May because Mark Elliott (Leonard Cheshire’s non-disabled Director of Development) is on a multi-week holiday in South Africa. (Good of him to check everything was A-OK with his team before swanning off [not] – perhaps he should bugger off permanently like Clare Pelham [CEO] and Vicki Hemming [HR director.])

Leonard Cheshire hasn’t told its own service users about this. Senior staff are discouraging the CST from telling us, which puts the employees in an invidious position – do they risk their references by telling service users their empowerment service is being given the boot? The CST’s dedicated team of disabled people already have to cope with being told at three weeks notice that there’s no budget for their wages, forcing them to seek employment elsewhere with great urgency (and we know disabled people experience many barriers when seeking employment, even at the best of times.) In the meantime, LCD are refusing to answer any questions about the situation (from anybody, including from the CST) until the “consultation” process starts.

The Customer Action Network, a user-led organisation attempting to provide representation of LCD service users despite continual interference and undermining by LCD, wants to start a petition to save the CST – but is being asked to delay this until the CST are under formal review. I’m glad to say the Network sent it out anyway – the petition is here.

That’s how LCD are treating the dedicated, hard-working and caring disabled people who (until now) did their best to empower LCD service users despite inadequate resources and lack of support. (i.e. those whom actually attempted the user empowerment for which LCD claims credit.)

Where their priorities really lie…

LCD have four directors who each earn between £100,000 and £150,000 per year, between them earning the equivalent of the Customer Support Team’s  entire budget. The Customer Support Team are the only posts in the charity ring-fenced for disabled people. They’re the only posts specifically aimed at empowering service users.

I think LCD’s treatment of the CST and of Honresfeld residents and staff proves that LCD’s claim to be focussed on disabled people’s rights is as hollow as so many people have said for years.

(With thanks to the excellent Crippen / Dave Lupton Cartoons for both cartoons on this page, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.)

Apr 142016
 

Leonard Cheshire announced on 11th March that their CEO Clare Pelham was resigning.

A spokeswoman for the charity said Pelham, who has no immediate role to move to, would stay in post until her successor was appointed and had no set date for leaving.

“Acting” Chief Executive

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Leonard Cheshire’s website was updated on the afternoon of 11th April. There is now an “acting Chief Executive” – former Director of Services, Rosemarie Pardington.

So what happened to Clare Pelham’s promise to “stay in post until her successor was appointed“? There’s been no announcement by Leonard Cheshire, or by Clare Pelham (on Twitter or in the Huff; she doesn’t seem to have a Linked In profile.) As I previously noted, there’s no way that a career politician like Clare would have left voluntarily without another job lined up. Now she’s left / been given the kick without even working her notice.

Given LCD’s typical silence, we are left guessing WHY she’s gone. I note that they have form for CEOs botching things and leaving at no notice, and Goodness knows there are enough reasons for getting rid of the odious, duplicitous, disempowering, disablist, cripple-kicking Clare Pelham, but it’s unlikely this is why (after all, LCD rarely let reason cloud their judgement.)

HR director also buggered off

ss+(2016-04-13+at+09.40.20)
I think we may draw some inference from the fact that their People Director, Vicky Hemming, has ALSO gone –  without waiting for a replacement, leaving Patricia Williamson as interim People Director (whose 7+ previous positions strongly suggest adherence to the Seagull school of management.)

We may remember that former people director Vicky Hemming had lied. She claimed that Leonard Cheshire Disability had written to all local authorities asking for increases in fees so that LCD could pay their carers the Living Wage, but that was proven irrefutably untrue.

Where’s the money?

Rumour is that our Clare and Vicky have left Leonard Cheshire in severe financial difficulties. They failed to prepare for the increased National Minimum Wage (which Osborne disingenuously refers to as the “National Living Wage“.) This has resulted in rapid closure of LCD homes with an “uncaring disregard for the wellbeing of residents” (to quote Rochdale Council and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group – and I now hear that other LCD homes are closing.)

It has also caused operating difficulties throughout the charity, because whilst carers‘ wages have increased, senior carers‘ wages haven’t for years and are now pretty much equal to carers‘. This has led many seniors to wonder why they should take on the extra responsibility of administering medication and running shifts, when they aren’t paid. It has also led to LCD returning to their favourite tactic of evicting residents who dare to raise concerns.

Cheers!

There’s undoubtedly much more to this story than meets the eye, but LCD are about as open as the Gestapo (albeit about as competent as Herr Flick) so unless and until some kind soul leaks again to Third Sector, one can only speculate. (and hope against experience that this won’t affect service users.)

Still, we have little enough reason to celebrate these days, and I think that dumping Clare Pelham and Vicky Hemming can only be a good thing – so Cheers! (And potential new employers of either – Caveat emptor!)

IMG_1372

Sam Smiths don’t give a stuff about disabled people

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Apr 132016
 

At the Harewood Arms, there is a stone wheelchair ramp in the car park, to get into the bar. I’ve been a lot over the years – most memorably to celebrate my degree.Humphrey_Richard_Woollcombe_Smith

Last time I attempted to go (with a friend I don’t get to see very often) the door at the top of the ramp was locked. There was a sign saying to use another door (which had steps.) There was no means of contacting staff, so another customer went in and got help. Staff eventually found some keys, though they initially brought the wrong ones.

I complained. I was told that they had been “requested” to keep the door locked “unless needed”. They said that because they “gave (us) access within a matter of a few minutes of (our) arrival” there was no problem. They had locked the door due to its use “by smokers who congregated outside” – causing complaints from guests in rooms above the entrance, and potentially being off-putting for customers entering or leaving the pub.

I felt this was not an adequate reason for keeping the only accessible bar entrance locked, so I took Sam Smiths to court. I lost; the Judge felt that having to wait “a matter of a few minutes” to get in wasn’t “substantial disadvantage“, and in any case was justified by their need to deal with the problems caused by smokers. He dismissed out-of-hand my suggestion of simple measures such as a sign requesting people not to smoke on the ramp, or provision of alternative smoking facilities – he didn’t take any evidence as to the potential efficacy of such measures.

So I phoned the Fire Service. I was concerned that the only accessible entrance was being kept locked, and that the occupiers couldn’t readily find the key to open it. People could be trapped in a fire. The fire service said that they were already aware, and that as a result the pub now keeps the door unlocked.

I was going past the pub today so I thought I’d have a quick shufty:

2016-04-13 16.57.21The door’s open, marked as “entrance to bar“, with the ramp unobstructed and with a new doorbell to boot.

Why was that so difficult, then? Why did they claim to me, and to the Courts, that it simply wasn’t possible to keep this door unlocked, because of the danger of marauding smokers?

Pig-headedness really knows no limits at Sam Smiths.

We already knew that Sam Smiths don’t give a stuff about their local community:

Or for their tenants, staff, managers, or anybody else really:

We now know that they don’t give a stuff about disabled people either.

Mar 132016
 

Clare Pelham, CEO of Leonard Cheshire, is resigning.

Pelham-20140930105114887

She’s resigning without another job to go to.

She’s a career politician. She was previously first chief executive of the Judicial Appointments Commission, the body charged with introducing more diversity into the Judiciary, and was under fire in the Select Committee on Constitutional Affairs for the Commission’s poor record in the first year.  (She restricted appointments to her commission to existing Civil Servants, thus perpetuating the lack of diversity.)

Before then Clare Pelham held senior civil service positions at the Cabinet Office, the Home Office and the Department for Constitutional Affairs. She has also a senior manager at IBM and was a member of the Executive Committee of Coca-Cola.

She has given no reasons for leaving her £150,000 job at Leonard Cheshire. I don’t need a reason, I can celebrate without one. But I smell a rat. I simply can’t see a career person like this leaving her job without some other well-paid, ego-stroking job to go to, without a serious reason.

I think she is leaving before the shit hits the fan.

OR somebody has finally GIVEN HER THE PUSH!

Leonard Cheshire are in financial trouble.

They have written to staff telling them that any Leonard Cheshire home may close, citing increased costs due to the need to pay their carers the Government’s new “National Living Wage” from 1st April. They are closing Honresfeld home with indecent haste and “an uncaring disregard for the wellbeing of residents” according to the Council and CCG, citing economic factors.

I think Clare Pelham can see the writing on the wall, doesn’t want to be associated with this looming PR disaster (she doesn’t give a stuff about the residents and staff, of course) and is escaping quick before she gets mired with the resultant bad publicity. (After all, her career and public profile were always her prime motivation anyway.) She perhaps has in mind the indecent spectacle of her predecessor, Eric Prescott. LCD brought him in as a “hatchet man” to cut costs, but left halfway through after staff morale hit rock bottom – tales of groups of staff forced to cluster round speakerphones to listen to recorded messages about the future of their employment were not confidence-inspiring.

Either that, or Leonard Cheshire have realised that her indifference to the charity’s own services has sabotaged them, and is thus giving her the push.

Leonard Cheshire didn’t prepare for the National Living Wage.

Leonard Cheshire didn’t even begin the process of asking Councils for extra money due to the increase in costs caused by the mandatory National Living Wage (due 1st April 2016), until December 2015. We already know that they hadn’t bothered asking for more money to enable them to pay their carers the  (entirely different) Living Wage Foundation’s Living Wage, until I forced them to do so (in a desultory and non-comprehensive fashion.) Councils have either refused due to their shrinking budgets, or told Leonard Cheshire it will have to wait for a decision pending multiple fee review meetings.

Worries for staff and residents

So LCD have done too little and left it too late. Now staff round the country are demoralised and worried for their jobs, and care home residents around the country (+ their relatives etc.) (with whom Leonard Cheshire have not deigned to communicate on this matter) are left not knowing if their home will be shut in two months with all of them evicted.

This situation is looking increasingly like a repeat Southern Cross. Yeah, thanks for that, Leonard Cheshire Disability.

I quote the founder again:

As time passed, professionalism advanced, and trustee numbers rose. In 1985 the trustees debated proposals which in Cheshire’s eyes “seemed to be based on the assumption that the foundation was moving towards being run by full-time professional staff, with the trustees responsible only for broad policy“. He opposed this, predicting that it would lead to “a radical change in the foundation’s way of thinking.” There would be less local involvement, diminished local fund-raising and a decline in voluntary help. Against this, core costs would rise, and the foundation “would become more and more like the NHS or social services“. (my emphasis)

Do Cheshire Homes have a future?

Mar 032016
 

Leonard Cheshire has decided to close Honresfeld Cheshire Home, Littleborough. It notified the residents and staff on 27th January of the impending closure at the end of March. 22 disabled people with high support needs live there. Arranging new accommodation and moving is difficult and traumatic enough for people without severe impairments. Imagine trying to sort out suitable care, equipment and accommodation at such short notice

Leonard Cheshire claim that they are consulting over this closure; but it is clear that they have decided they will close it, and rapidly. Their two months notice is in breach of the standard contract with Leonard Cheshire residents, which states:

7.6 In addition to any other rights it has to do so, Leonard Cheshire Disability may terminate this Agreement by giving at least three months written notice to the Service User at any time if Leonard Cheshire Disability proposes to close, temporarily or permanently, or to modify or redevelop the Home and believes that it is not possible in such circumstances to continue this Agreement beyond the end of that notice period.

So Leonard Cheshire Disability have to give residents three months notice. They gave them two months. Why?

As I say, they claim they were consulting on their closure. This doesn’t seem to be a consultation on if they will close, but how. They then decided to give residents an extra couple of months to get out – how generous! Given their own contracts say they have to give three months notice, I have concluded that they always intended on shutting in four months, but went for two just so they can show they are being “responsive” to the “consultation”.

cartoon by Crippen

And when we want your opinion, we’ll tell you what it is! Cartoon c/o the excellent Crippen. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 UK

So why do they have to close anyway, and so quickly?

Leonard Cheshire says that it’s because:

the service is no longer financially viable in the current market. Our charity has been financially supporting the service for a number of years and sadly this is no longer possible.

In addition, the Victorian building requires substantial investment to bring it up to modern-day standards. (my emphasis.)

If Leonard Cheshire have been funding the home for “a number of years”, why the urgent rush to shut it? Is the home that unviable and that skint? The Council and the NHS deny this:

The council and the CCG thoroughly and absolutely refute that the levels of fees paid to Leonard Cheshire, the owners of the home, by Rochdale Borough Council and others can be attributed to their decision to close the home.

We are strongly of the view that with efficient use of resources, the care home could remain open.

We would welcome the opportunity to examine the accounts of Leonard Cheshire and will gladly work with them to provide assistance to review their staffing and care costs in order to find efficiencies to support the home to be viable.

The state of the building and the costs of the works needed to bring it up to standard is a separate issue. We understand that Leonard Cheshire has to make decisions about use of its resources, although we note that according to the last accounts published by the Charity Commission, the organisation has significant levels of reserves.

As a council and CCG we must respect Leonard Cheshire’s commercial decision to close this home as the building needs significant capital investment. We are also aware that any subsequent sale of the land is likely to provide significant additional sale value for the organisation.

We are, however, very disappointed at the way in which Leonard Cheshire has communicated and managed this situation to date. A letter was sent to residents and families on 25 January with the intention to close the home by 31 March.

In our view this shows an uncaring disregard for the wellbeing of residents, some of whom have lived in the home for over 20 years. With better planning and more notice Leonard Cheshire could have worked with Rochdale Borough Council and the CCG to plan the closure and the enforced move for residents more sensitively. (my emphasis.)

So the Council and the NHS think the rapid closure is unnecessary. Leonard Cheshire undoubtedly won’t let them examine their books, Leonard Cheshire is about as transparent and accountable as Colditz. We therfore have to examine other figures.

  • Rochdale council pays Leonard Cheshire on average 44% more per placement than for analogous placements with other providers.
  • They’re not alone: 55 of 71 other councils that place residents in LCD care homes similarly pay more to Leonard Cheshire than to others. (reference)

Perhaps they pay their carers more?

Nope. As previously noted, despite their Chief Executive advocating that carers should be paid the Living Wage as set by the Independent Living Foundation, Leonard Cheshire routinely pays just above the minimum wage. The minimum wage for people aged over 21 outside London is £6.70 per hour. The Living Wage as set by the Independent Living foundation is £8.25 per hour. Leonard Cheshire is currently advertising for carers:

Support Worker (Residential Services) Penzance: £6.77 per hour.

£6.77 per hour.

Leonard Cheshire repeatedly claim that they have “written to all local authorities who commission our services about our desire to pay the living wage” but in fact they still haven’t; for example Manchester City Council contract Leonard Cheshire but have never received any correspondence from them whatsoever asking for increases in fees to enable them to pay the living wage.

So it doesn’t go on carer’s wages. Where does it go?

Good question!

As of April 2015, there were 14 LCD employees who earn more than MPs. (An increase from 11 employees the previous year.) (from their Annual Accounts.) Between them, these LCD employees earn at least £1,300,000 per year (+ private medical care, pensions and other bonuses.) That £1,300,000 is considerably more than Honresfeld residents’ fees. (Assuming that residents’ fees are about £39,000 per year, based upon figures supplied by Rochdale Council, the fee income for Honresfeld is around £850,000 pa.)

Just think: if LCD cut the salaries of their top 14 employees to that of a carer (i.e. the people who actually do the work that makes a difference to disabled people), they could save well over £1,000,000 per year. This saving could more than double the contribution from Honresfeld residents’ fees.

Leonard Cheshire evictions

Leonard Cheshire has a long history of attempting to evicttroublesome” and “non-profitable” people. In the 1950s, it attempted to evict a number of residents  who protested at having to be in their pyjamas by 6pm every day. In 2002, Leonard Cheshire argued for – and got – the legal precedent that they don’t have to respect residents’ human rights, so that they could evict residents from Le Court (the original Cheshire home.) In 2010, “a range of senior (LCD) management” were found to have committed institutional and psychological abuse of me over a number of years, in the process of which they illegitimately attempted to evict me without any justification. Now they are evicting Honresfeld residents with unneeded and cruel haste because they aren’t “profitable“.

I know what Leonard Cheshire the man would have thought. He’s on record. To quote Richard Morris’s biography of him:

As time passed, professionalism advanced, and trustee numbers rose. In 1985 the trustees debated proposals which in Cheshire’s eyes “seemed to be based on the assumption that the foundation was moving towards being run by full-time professional staff, with the trustees responsible only for broad policy“. He opposed this, predicting that it would lead to “a radical change in the foundation’s way of thinking.” There would be less local involvement, diminished local fund-raising and a decline in voluntary help. Against this, core costs would rise, and the foundation “would become more and more like the NHS or social services“. (my emphasis)

In response to the Leonard Cheshire Foundation’s attempt to evict those who objected to the pyjama curfew:

he responded by advising the Management Committee that a Cheshire Home was a home for life.

Honresfeld resident Harry Roach said:

It can’t be right that we can be thrown out after two months. I’ve been here 10 years and I’m happy here.

I thought that they would at least give us a year.

When they said two months I thought ‘You are having a laugh’.

Two months to sort your life out? It would be hard for somebody not disabled, let alone someone in a wheelchair.

Quite.

There is a petition to stop the closure of Honresfeld Cheshire Home.

Slimming World Syn values of Diet Chef foods

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Slimming World Syn values of Diet Chef foods
Feb 262016
 

I am a fat whatsit and really need to lose weight. I lost a lot on Slimming World a few years ago, then did Diet Chef for a while, now I’m back on Slimming World again (there’s more choice and it’s more sustainable long-term.) So I have Diet Chef stock in the cupboard but I’m on Slimming World. Slimming World syns online and so on don’t list Diet Chef foods, so I’ve shoved the various Diet Chef foods in my cupboard through the Slimming World online syns calculator, with appropriate selection of any free food content. I thought this might prove vaguely useful to somebody else, hence this departure from my normal content on my blog.
I don’t guarantee it to be error free, the recipe may change, it’s not all the Diet Chef foods (just the ones I could stomach), don’t leave your grandma out in a gale and always make sure to shut the firebox and turn the blower on when entering a tunnel, or at the very least open the regulator all the way.

Main Meals

Meal Syns
Mild Chicken Tikka Massala
Lasagne
Sweet and Sour Chicken 6
Chicken in Black Bean Sauce
Chicken Jalfrezi
Thai Red Chicken Curry
Vegetable Curry
Macaroni Cheese 5
Sausages and Onion Gravy

Lunches

Meal Syns
Cream of Tomato Soup
Mushroom Soup
Pea and Ham Soup Free
Curried Parsnip Soup 4
Sweet Potato & Coconut Soup
Oxtail Soup 3
Creamy Pesto Pasta Pot ½
Spiced Bulgar Wheat & Couscous Pot Free
Lemon & Herb Bulgar Wheat & Couscous Pot ½
Tomato & Herb Bulgar Wheat & Couscous Pot ½
Tomato, Red Pepper & Cheese Pasta Pot Free
Vanilla Flavour Protein Bar 11½
Chocolate Flavour Protein Bar 11½
Peanut Flavour Protein Bar 11½

Breakfasts

I guess it’s up to you if you count any of these as “own brand” Healthy Bs, though they are slightly bigger at 40g.

Meal Syns
Fruit and Oat Muesli
Luxuri Muesli
Chocolate Granola 10
Treacle & Pecan Granola 10
Fruit & Oat Soft Cookie 10
Chocolate Soft Cookie 10
Original Muesli Bar 10
Chocolate Chip Muesli Bar

Snacks

Snack Syns
Fruit & Spice Oat Buiscuits 4
Stem Ginger Oat Buiscuits
Dark Chocolate Chip Oat Buiscuits
Mixed Berry Oat Buiscuits
Cranberry Protein Bar 30g 6
Strawbery & Apple Bar 2
Chocolate Bar 5
Feb 182016
 

I’ve noted in blogs passim that the Department for Work and Pensions promised the Work and Pensions Commons Select Committee in 2009 that it would collate statistics on disability discrimination cases in the provision of goods and services.

42. There is a lack of data on the number of DDA cases on goods, facilities and services in the county courts, although a number of witnesses presume the numbers to be very small. We recommend that the Government monitors the trends in the number of cases taken and their outcomes. (Paragraph 264)

89. The Government will consider introducing changes to the county court IT system when there is an opportunity to do so. Until then, courts will be asked to manually gather information on DDA cases involving goods, facilities and services.

I asked for that information, in a Freedom of Information Request.

1) what changes to the IT system were considered, which were implemented and which were not, and why

2) what systems were implemented to ensure the manual collation in courts of data on DDA cases involving goods, facilities and services, when those systems were implemented, when they stopped and how successful they were;

Please provide all data collated on disability discrimination cases as a result of the above.

I’ve had the belated response from the Ministry of Justice today.

I would first like to take this opportunity to apologise to you for the long delay in our response which was caused by the need for the Department to conduct extensive searches to determine if any information was held. Also there was difficulty in trying to locate the best business unit to accurately respond. I therefore confirm the HMCTS (Her Maj’s Courts and Tribunals Service) was not compliant in its handling of the FOI request and breached section 10 (1) of the FOI Act, by responding outside the twenty day statutory deadline.

Having conducted extensive searches of all relevant areas within HMCTS and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) I can confirm that the Department does not hold the information that you have requested. To establish whether the information was held we have conducted a thorough search and made enquiries with the following business areas: HMCTS Equality Team, MoJ Corporate Equality Team, HMCTS Finance Directorate Performance, Analysis and Reporting, MoJ Strategic Reform, Forecasting and Finance and HMCTS Civil & Business Support Team.

When assessing whether or not information was held adequate and reasonable searches for the requested information were made of:

  • Electronic records were searched using the following key search terms: Disability Discrimination Act case in County Courts, DDA cases involving goods, facilities and services, DDA cases on County Court IT system, Changes to County Court IT system, DDA cases and DWP Select Committee, MoJ’s response to DWP Select Committee Report on DDA cases etc which would have revealed any information held.
  • Checks were made with policy officials responsible for the issue in MoJ.

If the information was held by HMCTS and or MoJ it would have to be held by the above mentioned business areas. It may help if I clarify that the information being requested is not held by HMCTS and MoJ because there is no specific legal requirement for MoJ to do so.

I think all that extensive, extensive searching indicates a degree of justifiable embarrassment experienced by MoJ officials at determining that it’s now 100% clear that despite promising a select committee that they would collate statistics on such cases, in actuality they did sweet FA and just forgot about their promise.

This is somewhat of a shame as it would have been useful to the select committee in its post-legislative review of the Equality Act. I was asked about statistics of such cases:

Q101 Lord McColl of Dulwich: … My question is: what proportion of cases are taken by litigants, both disabled and non-disabled people, without legal advice?

Doug Paulley: I have been trying to research this. Back in 2009, the Government responded to the Work and Pensions Select Committee, stating that they would manually collate statistics on various aspects of disability discrimination cases under what was then the DDA. They would then institute a computer system that would automatically record this. When I tried to research the proportions using the Freedom of Information Act, nobody seemed to know, to be frank. I have asked quite a lot of different organisations, and from what I can gather the requirement to notify the Equality and Human Rights Commission of cases is not universally complied with, to say the least. The Ministry of Justice has not recorded statistics on this. So I am afraid that all we can give you is anecdotal experience.

Is it contempt of Parliament to make a specific promise to a Select Committee to collate such statistics, then to not bother at all, do you think?

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