Dont Assume things about me just cos I live in Care!
Living in a residential home, it’s sometimes difficult to work out quite what “role” I take, particularly in other people’s eyes.
There are various technical difficulties with living in a building registered as a “business”. For example, the Council won’t collect bulky rubbish, and I have previously had difficulty getting some things supplied or delivered (e.g. broadband) as they only supply “residential properties”. The fact that I live here doesn’t always work in a “computer says no” situation.
Perhaps more worrying is the assumptions others make about me because I live in a residential care home. Both the home and I have contacted various organisations to tell them that I deal with my own affairs and have my own phone line – but still, I have yet to persuade the NHS wheelchair repair people and the District Nurses to speak to me direct! They phone the home, assuming the Home run all my affairs.
Some tradespeople assume it’s OK to turn up at their convenience and without notice; over the years, particular failures of this type have been perpetrated by lift service people (cutting it off at no notice) and hoist repair people amongst others. (Though I’m also cognisant that this happens elsewhere!) They seem to assume that as the home is “manned” 24 hours a day it doesn’t matter when they turn up.
Then there was the time the home registered everybody – including me – for a postal vote without asking the residents. I’d rather go to the polling station.
“Charitising” fee-paying residents
Whilst frustrating and inconvenient, the above are simply a symptom of a worse disease: assumptions made about people living in homes. I find it most vexing. It’s one level on from the assumptions all disabled people face. I also have to continually fight internalising these assumptions.
Like many homes, particuarly homes for “younger” adults (under 65), the one I’m in claims to encourage personalisation, independence and normalisation; to work against segregation and preconceived ideas about disabled people.
So why is it that there’s a fayre advertised at the home for Saturday, to raise money for a new minibus.? There are huge signs around the town advertising it to all and sundry for the public to come. To me, this fair is about as welcome and appropriate as the proverbial fart in a spacesuit.
I object to the public being invited into my home, my personal space. A few years ago at the fair, I decided to go to bed for the afternoon; but random public opened my bedroom door and wandered in!
I also object to the perception of me and other residents as charity cases. I know my fees are over £1,000 per week to live here. On top of that, we pay 60p per mile for transport in the minibus with a volunteer driver. And that’s just the beginning of my financial objections in this area; let alone the more moral and personal objections.
Sod off, Father Christmas!
It’s nearly as bad as some bloke in a red uniform coming over on Christmas Day, dancing in our living room and giving out shortbread as his self-serving patronising gift to the Tiny Tims. If I’m at home, I hide in my bedroom until he’s gone. It’s not pretty; a 33 year old bloke hiding in his bedroom to avoid Father Christmas.
That’s organised by the well-meaning but misdirected local Lions group. The rest of the year, when we need people to assist residents to get out and about, we don’t see them. It’s pretty stuffed up really.
We Live Here
Next time there’s a debate about what to call us – service users, customers, charity recipients – how about normalising us and calling us residents? You never know it might just start to sink in.
Though I doubt it.
With thanks as always to Dave Lupton / Crippen for his most excellent cartoon. Image courtesy of Crippen / Dave Lupton Cartoons: www crippencartoons.co.uk