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An Arbroath family have organised a ‘Loo Tour de Britain’ to follow on from the Tour de France in Yorkshire. This family have teenage twins, Kelsey and Kein, with muscular dystrophy and require Changing Places toilets. Their uncle, Grant Speed, has organised the tour to raise awareness of Changing Places toilets and to raise money for the installation of a CP toilet in Arbroath and is cycling from Leeds to Arbroath, starting on Monday July 7th.
We are looking for volunteers to join the ‘tour’ at Murrayfield, Edinburgh, including the twins mother, Lois, on Friday 11th July at 8am to cycle to the Tay bridge (or as far as you can manage).
The cyclists will be passing through Fife, stopping at Lochore Meadows for coffee and to publicise the CP toilets in Fife.
A week ago the Audit Commission published its report on "Self Directed Support". It found that there was a mixed picture across Scotland about how well councils were preparing. As usual in reports of this kind, there were plenty of positive stories about how Self Directed Support is helping people make a change in their lives.
But there are plenty of other stories which paint a much bleaker picture. Yesterday LDAS spoke to the mother of John, who has severe autism and learning disabilities. He actually has a good service right now that helps him live a much better life. But it does cost a lot. The local council is now working on a reassessment programme for those who already get services. John has been given his first indicative budget for planning his care under SDS. It was a range budget of between 25% adn 50% of the cost of the current service.
His mum explained that John psychiatrist, his GP and up to last week the social worker had been happy with his current service but on this new budget he would no longer be able to use the service. Here's a snippet from the conversation.
Mum: How did you arrive at this budget for John?
Social Worker: The computer told us.
Mum: How did the computer know what was needed to meet John's needs?
Social Worker: We feed lots of very complicated things into it and then it tell us what is a fair budget.
Only now after Mum getting external help is there a prospect of this budget being changed.
There used to be an old saying in the early days of computers if the data put into a computer was wrong, then the answer it fed out would also be wrong. The computer cannot make a judgement, it only produces results. Such stories as John's rarely make it into official reports but unless they are taken seriously we are storing up problems.
If we are serious about transforming social care in Scotland we perhaps need to be a little better about thinking about real people and a little bit less obsessed with the latest computer system or spreadsheet.
Kingspark School in Dundee opened in 2009 but very quickly concerns emerged. By 2013, there were 20% more pupils in the school that had been planned. By 2014, it was nearly 140% more – 175 instead of 125.
In 2010 a new electronic recording system encouraged school staff to see themselves as the victims of attacks by school pupils even where there was no malicious intent such as a child having an epileptic fit whose involuntary hand movements touched a member of staff.
Meanwhile allegations were being made that a small but significant number of children were being illegally restrained or subject to physical abuse.
One 12 year old child was restrained on the ground by four teaching and support staff. Bruising and blood spots on his chest indicated that he had been held face down in what is an illegal hold. The incident was repeated on two subsequent days. His mother said “Four teachers held my small epileptic child on the floor till he passed our and urinated. Then they let him go!”
Earlier this week LDAS published an report from a Whistleblower that said there was a developing of a new approach in the assessment of current applications for the Personal Independence Payment. This centred around instructions being given to ATOS Health Professionals about how they should carry out face to face interviews.
LDAS is an independent campaigning organisation that believes information should lead to action. Our intention in publishing this article was to inform people so that they could help change the approach of ATOS to this. It is always better to stop things before they become entrenched.
A number of people have been in contact to say they have felt scared as a result of the information and blamed LDAS for making it available. As a result of this, we have taken the original down.
We did speak to the author and felt that they were genuine in promoting this article. They are a well respected disability activist known to two leading disabled person's organisations.
A number of things about the context for the article are important to think about. The government's flagship problem of welfare reform is in a difficult place. With a general election only a year away, Universal Credit has stalled and PIP is drowning in a huge backlog of claims that cannot be processed because of the length of time assessments are taking. In this it strikes us that it is reasonable to suppose ATOS management to be looking at ways they can speed up assessments of the backlog. It is in this context that we think there was merit in this article.
We will be making no further comment on this matter.
We really pleased to be able to announce copies of two new Easy Read documents on the arguments for and against Independence. These will help people with learning disabilities make up their mind about what they would like to do in the referendum on September 18th.
The first is from the Better Together campaign and summarises the reasons why Scotland should stick together with the rest of the UK.
The second is from the Scottish Government and summarises the White Paper on Scotland.