Living in chaos.

The electrics in the kitchen were condemned and Wickes were having a 4 years interest free deal on kitchens, how could we resist?  The kitchen was falling apart when we moved in, I think there was only one door still hanging in the end, but with limited finances it got put on the list of things to do- in time.  Now with this deal and our new budget drawn up we could look at getting a kitchen, as the electrics would need doing it could all get ripped out rewired and fitted.  Hooray!

We had a man come round to plan it with us, extra tall cupboards, pull out corner cupboard things, a pull out spice rack drawer and the sink of my husbands dreams (not very exciting dreams admittedly).  In the old coal shed we could put the washer and drier and other sundry items thus leaving the kitchen as just a kitchen.  We booked it after tweaking it to fit in our budget and got an installation date.  Everything going well so far.  As it was a full refit, with electrics, everything had to pulled out and that’s where the chaos started.  The conservatory was packed with stuff we wouldn’t need til after the fitting, the living room contained 2 freezers, a fridge, a tumble dryer, kettle, toaster, crockery, cutlery- you get the picture.  Any other bits were put in bedrooms in boxes.  Kids couldn’t get their toys, we wouldn’t have a working oven for up to 8 working days, no sink for at least 3, no washer.  Fortunately my parents live not far away and would let us eat there and wash the clothes.  So I seem organised and have tried to explain to the kids what’s happening, showing pictures of the new kitchen and moving things while they watch.

Day one- the workmen turn up at 7 on the dot and rip out the kitchen, I say rip out, they probably give it a kick and it collapsed! “I don’t like these mens mummy” says Popples but we seem to cope with the change ok.  We go for tea, do a wash and when we come home the “mens” have gone which makes Popples happy.  Oliver struggles as there is no space for him to play, or lounge with his teddies after a hard day at school.  Then comes the next blow, the pipes have been waggled so a connection to the bath has come lose and started leaked.  The husband caps it off and I text mum asking if we can have baths there too.  He plans to fix it at weekend.  At this point we have one working tap, the bathroom sink.

Behaviours get worse as the week goes on, by all of us.  I’m running around dropping kids off, picking them up, going to the folks, bathing them, washing clothes, packing the clothes in the car to bring home to dry, wrestling three kids back in the car.  It’s chaos.  And for my 2 boys, it’s particularly hard as the routine is gone.  Oliver starts playing up at school.  I end up getting a phone call Thursday to come get him as he has stripped off and won’t get dressed.

The weekend comes and he gets all the plumbing supplies, spends 2 days working on the bathroom, moving the bath and sink as planned to give us more room.  I’d asked 3 times if we should just get a plumber- “no I can do it, it’s just some pipes” turns the water back on at 9pm Sunday night and theres now fountains in the bathroom.  My one tap, my one source of water has gone.  My husband is very upset at this point, clearly it’s more than “just pipes” when it comes to plumbing.  I knock on my neighbours door with 2 jugs begging for water, and I get more than water, I get a 20 minute gossip session too with some very juicy stuff.

The mens fit my sink the next day and I could have kissed him, he also emergency repairs the main pipe upstairs and caps off the rest so we have the water back on.  I get the number for a plumber but Leon knows a friend of a friend (I know, I can see whats coming too).  By this point I’m exhausted and stressed and can’t remember when I last slept and still have to do the school run, cope with three displaced kids and my dad feeding me mega portions as I’m “looking too thin and ill”.  The plumber comes, doesn’t fit the waste pipe properly into the outside waste pipe so when I empty the bath it comes down the newly plastered walls (it’s still drying out).  He also managed to take a tape measure, spirit level, screw driver, saw and other items that had been in the tool box.

I cry.  For hours.  My house is not my home, my kids are stressed, I’m stressed, bits are missing from the kitchen, and then someone says to me “it can’t get any worse, it’ll be great when it’s done” and then they listen to me rant for half an hour.  Leon manages to fix the drainage pipe so the bath works, the kitchen men plumb in my washer and cooker.

On Thursday (a week and a half after it started) I move the living room back into the kitchen, I clean non stop, and organise the toys and rug and teddies and I bring the little ones back from school to a home cooked meal.  Oliver’s face was a picture, wreathed in smiles, teddies on the floor, lying down and covering himself in stickle bricks.  Popples not so happy “I need to go to my nana’s”.

The kitchen is done, the bathroom no longer leaks, Oliver is now keeping his clothes on- at school at least, the odd pencil pot stills goes flying but he has calmed down in school, Max is trying to find his way around the kitchen but knows where the coke and crisps are so isn’t overly bothered about much else.  My husband has agreed in future not to attempt plumbing.  I knew it would be hard but this hard?  Although what eejit attempts a bathroom whilst kitchen is being done?

All settled?  Not a chance, with the severe weather Max’s ceiling has a major leak- think we will leave that to the insurance!




“A thorough investigation”

I spoke about Max and losing his placement in “How can people be so mean” and this is the update.  We were invited to a meeting to be given the results of the investigation into the allegations made about staff behaviour.  They claim there was a thorough investigation and there is no case to answer.  “We can’t go into specifics about people but we found it was a disgruntled employee who we have let go and basically a case of revenge/sour grapes.  Max is welcome to come back”

Their timeline of events was different to mine, when I pointed this out they said I had it wrong.  I asked if the main mean person had been let go.  No he hadn’t.  There was no evidence against him except he said/she said and if we sent Max back then he would have no contact with this man.  I asked about the screen shots I received with his mobile number on it and asked if they’d called the number.  “That isn’t evidence, anyone can doctor a screenshot”, well I can’t.  Also if the man was innocent why would Max have to be kept away?  I asked why nothing had been done when his 1-to-1 first mentioned something to the manager and got “it was only after we let her go that concerns were raised”.  We argued the time line, but it was no use, they wouldn’t budge.

We told of how his activity programme had changed and asked why.  We told of his change of behaviour.  “We have new management” so the old manager who was really good with the clients and keeping staff in line was now being blamed because of his lack of office skills, the new managers had to sort all that out and it “may” have affected services.  I told them that the new manager was the same woman who had been with us from the start, so she knew us and it made no sense to change his activity. “Well I’ve known her a long time, she has been trying to deal with a lot as she hasn’t been a manager before”- yes and? She gets a promotion and decides my sons tailored programme is no good without discussing it with me? The programme she helped tailor!

All staff members have been interviewed and been given a leaflet on respect and dignity.  All clients have been interviewed and no one else has a problem.  What about the people like Max with no voice?  The parent was interviewed to see if anything had been “said” at home.  I asked how they were supposed to say anything when they couldn’t talk, what method was used? A sad/happy board? “we can’t go into details”.

I saw a change in behaviour in Max and thankfully his 1-to-1 told me what was going on, so I could intervene.  My gut tells me something went on, you get a feeling about people, and it’s not scientific and sometimes it’s wrong, but not often I don’t think.  For her whistleblowing she has lost her job, been badmouthed all over and when I spoke to her last she had had a social worker visit her as they had received “an anonymous phone call” about her and her kids.  She is seeking legal advice.

I just wonder when I am going to hear about another incident at this place, or will they be more subtle in future.  One thing is for sure, they had their own agenda and have fulfilled it.  No case to answer.  They’ve skewed things so she has no credibility, and I look like an overprotective drama queen mother.  They’ve lost over £18,000 in fees plus other monies they could claim as he is classed as severely disabled.  The man managing the meeting said Max would be welcomed back with open arms, he brings a lot of money with him.

To me, and I know I’m not impartial, it feels like a whitewash.  Max wasn’t happy.  I’ll never know exactly what went on, I only have screen shots of conversations and my gut to go on, but I know something went on.  He won’t be going back.  My social worker is trying to find something else for him, we will see how that goes.  In the meantime, we have time to get him back to his happy self and rebuild his self esteem.




How can people be so mean?

Max had a placement in a park that had a café.  It was, and is, intended for adults with disabilities to provide a safe place for them to learn skills.  Life skills, relationship skills and maintenance, serving in café, cooking etc.  Each programme is tailor made to each clients abilities and what they are wanting to achieve.  They help support more able clients back to work, helping with cv’s and work focussed activities too.

Max has been there just over a year.  It’s expensive as he needs 1-to-1 care but it seemed to be a blessing when we found it so we applied for funding and got 4 days a week at a £100 a day.  It used to be run by a lovely bloke who retired a few months ago.   Max was given a programme of shopping, doing basic gardening like weeding, cleaning café tables, groundskeeping and going to into town to get used to being in the community again.  He loved it, he was happy, so we were happy.

A few weeks ago, things started to change.  It doesn’t sound much but the staff weren’t there to meet the clients on time, often rolling up, up to 15 minutes late.  Last week I had an appointment with Oliver and I went to drop Max off first.  No one to meet him so someone went down to the meeting room to get his stand in 1-to-1 as his usual one was off sick.  He came back with the message “he’s busy his mum’ll have to wait with him- he’ll come when he’s ready”  so I said I couldn’t wait as I had an appointment, and a lady member of staff sat with him when I left.  I didn’t feel very comfortable about the attitude but had to rush off.  It was only later telling the story to the husband that I started thinking about the changes I had noticed.  The clients had started waiting outside, in the rain at times rather than in the café.  Nothing was as clean as it used to be.  The table Max had been allocated after his meltdown so he could eat in peace away from the noise was still reserved and when I asked I was told he still went there for his morning brew and his lunch- it’s winter in the north west of England!

His usual 1-to-1 got in touch with me and said she wasn’t coming back.  And then proceeded to tell me why.  Horror story after horror story came out and I felt sick to my stomach hearing about the way these vulnerable people were being treated and spoken to.  Max had been shouted at by a staff member, they had taken the piss out of him and the noises he makes (he is non verbal), he’d been isolated from the group, everytime he found something he liked doing they took it away from him, his shopping visits and community visits had stopped and he was not allowed to be helped in his work focussed chores.  We had made it clear from the start he wasn’t ever going to be work focussed hence his programme of skills being designed for him.  Other clients were referred to in derogatory ways depending on their disblilites, swear words used and tasks set that they could never complete.  I asked for evidence and she sent me a text she’d received from Max’s new 1-to-1 complaining about his high pitched noises and saying she had to come back cos he couldn’t cope with him.  I felt so sick- he only makes high pitched noises when distressed so what the hell were they doing to him?  He can’t tell me.

I asked why she hadn’t said anything to me and she said she’d tried to deal with it internally but management weren’t bothered.   We decided to withdraw him .  I don’t want him somewhere he is going to be treated like a burden.  We’ve spent the last 2 days on the phone going through the proper channels to have him withdrawn and all payments stopped.  Now he has no support in place but at least he’s safe, at home with me.  What I don’t understand is how sick do you have to be to treat vulnerable people like this?  Why work at a place if you don’t like the people you’re working for?  We, and the other clients, pay these peoples wages.

My son has now lost a placement where he was happy for a year due to sick bullies.  I don’t know what’s going to happen next for us or for the centre.  I don’t know if social services will keep us informed, I know his personal budget that had just been approved is now no good.  But I know he is safe.  I know it will be hard work for me, but I know he is safe.

I have cried so much over this, how can people pick on my boy like this?  And how can they keep getting away with it?  I am sad for Max mostly, he’s lost more independence and he didn’t have much to start with.  Why can no one see that he is funny, loveable and so eager to please? Why do they have to ruin the little he has?

He has his family who love him, I hope somewhere he knows that and that now he feels safe.




Oliver v’s the range rover

This morning started like most other- getting three children ready for the day, drop Popples at nursery, wrestle Oliver in the car and drop Max off at placement.  All done on time- even arrived early for school and was looking forward to Foundation Stage’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk.  We’ve had to grow beans at home and keep a bean diary, and there’s been lots of work done in school with the story being at the focus.  Oliver was part of the beanstalk and had to wave a leaf at the appropriate time.  It was going to be interesting at any rate.

So we pulled up at school and was just finishing listening to Room on the Broom before getting out.  Now I know my son is a runner and a flight risk, we had a near miss just outside the house a couple of months ago where I let go of him to put the key in the door and he ran down the neighbours path into the road.  I shouted and ran after him and got to him a second before the car did.  A couple of weeks ago he got past the teacher on the door in the morning and ran off to the Bug Hotel/outside readers corner.  Fortunately he went down that path and not the one next to it as it would have been onto the road.  Therefore I am super vigilant and hold onto him all the time when he is mobile.  Today I had him by the wrist as it was hot and he is sweaty and I didn’t want to lose my grip on him. Five steps from the gate he managed somehow to get loose and was on the road in front of a range rover who fortunately wasn’t driving too fast and I had reached him and snatched him out of the way.  He is so fast and seems hellbent on escaping and running into dangerous situations that he has no comprehension of.

Teddy’s gran saw the whole thing, she said he was fast and I did nothing wrong but its hard to feel that way when I know him and he’s in my charge.  School made me a cup of tea and had a chat about his Houdini type antics.  I watched some of the play and he was happy as anything waving his leaf.  I think Teddy’s gran got upset too, she used to work with kids like Oliver and it’s never nice to see a near accident. I use reins everywhere else but never needed them to get from the car to school.  Well that’s what you think until this happens and you think “I knew what he was like why did I not do it as a precautionary measure?” When I went to collect him after another day of “what if’s” and sweet tea I took his reins and put them on.  Whilst walking with him out of the gates he managed to get the shoulder straps off.  So I did my research and have ordered him some super strength reins designed for children like Oliver.  They weren’t cheap- nothing is when you put special needs in front of it, but they may save our lives. Teddy’s mum said this afternoon “I bet you can never relax, always waiting to run ” and I am.  I have seen Oliver watching where I put my keys, watching which key I put in the door and I know he is waiting for his chance.

I’ve tried talking about cars and squashing.  Used simple language, told him NO.  Nothing works, he doesn’t understand danger, he has no clue as to the seriousness of consequences, he thinks mum shouting “no” and him having a time out is worth it to “catch” a car.  I need to be more vigilant, and I need to stop being lulled into a false sense of security.  Lets hope these reins help- at that price they had better be good!