Wrexham Council

Time for a Laugh: Wrexham Adult Social Care Commissioning Strategy 2018-23

I have just found the following information on the WCBC website. It talks about how the Social Care Department has been “working hard” on a new commissioning strategy for those in need of care and support services.

It goes on to state that there has been a “great deal of engagement with staff, partners, providers and importantly the people who use our services and their carers“. This is the first I’ve heard of this and none of the 8 members of staff that I employ have heard about it either.

A cynical person might think that this is because WCBC do not want to hear the truth and are just working on a strategy that will protect their budget by creating flimsy justifications for acknowledges the considerable financial pressures faced by the Department.
Lucky I’m not a cynic…

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The following material was taken from the WCBC website. 

Why are we doing this?: 

Over the last year, the Adult Social Care Department have been working hard to develop its Commissioning Strategy, which sets out our vision for care and support services for the next five years. The Strategy has been the result of a great deal of engagement with staff, partners, providers, and importantly the people who use our services and their carers; which I hope many of you will have had the opportunity to be involved with.

The enclosed strategy is the product of these conversations. It reflects our understanding of what the people who use our services have told us they want. However, it acknowledges the considerable financial pressures faced by the Department.

The changes and service developments outlines in this Commissioning Strategy are some of the things that will help us to deliver the savings we are required to make.

What do we want to know?: 

We would be grateful for your feedback on the Strategy, and whether you feel it adequately reflects what our priorities for service development should be over the next five years.

Enclosed alongside the Strategy is a short questionnaire, which I would be grateful if you could spare the time to answer and return to the email address below

 socialservicescustomerfeedback@wrexham.gov.uk 

Start date 15 October 2018
End date 15 November 2018

 

Mind Games

My mind is cluttered up at the moment as the need to Save WILG increases and my disability continues to progress. Throughout all this I am surrounded by some amazing friends and comrades who really keep me going, yet still I remain intrinsically lonely.

This is not meant to be a self centred, depressing blog. I am just stating my feelings on a sleepy Sunday morning. Hopefully others will be able to relate to my story and it is in this spirit that I am writing.

After enjoying an evening watching the superb Joe Solo at The Sun Inn, Llangollen. This award-winning musician, writer, poet, activist, broadcaster and washing machine engineer hails from Scarborough. His musical odyssey began in 1987 fronting a bash-em-out band at school, and has seen him play seven countries either as lynchpin of pop-punk upstarts Lithium Joe or hammering out his unique brand of Folk, Punk and Blues in his own right.

He put on a wonderful sincere show that obviously came straight from the heart and he managed to spread his passion for politics throughout the packed pub.  As he was performing I couldn’t help but wish I had remembered to bring a #SaveWILG postcard for him to pose with. I had to compromise and took a photo of Joe and I after the gig so that I could show that he was a supporter of the campaign.

Then I saw the photo…

At the beginning of the evening I chose to wear my new New York City t-shirt in homage to John Lennon. Unfortunately, I do not resemble the former Beatle in any way whatsoever so could only be disappointed with a photograph of a chunky bloke slouching in a wheelchair with a recognisable t-shirt hiding his flab. I was disappointed with the picture. Joe looked great and we captured the busy pub behind us, but the shot was ruined by me. I guess this is what happens when you are a perfectionist trapped in a imperfect body.

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I think the problem is not that I am especially overweight. I recently got weighed and was pleased to find that I was only 13st. This is about average for someone of my age and height. The main issue that I have is my posture in my wheelchair as due to Friedreichs Ataxia my hips tend to roll forward causing me to slouch down to a uncomfortable position. My spine is of no use at all as I am suffering from Scoliosis which means my spine has a sideways curve.

I guess this is one of the hard things of living with Friedreichs Ataxia – it is constantly changing due to its progressive nature and I am always having to come to terms with accepting changes to my body. At a time when I am fighting the Welsh Government, Wrexham Council and Wrexham AFC this is particularly hard to cope with.

However, I am a fighter and I will continue to fight while trying to learn to ignore media perceptions of what is beautiful and accepting that I should really love myself.

I really should spend longer writing this blog, but I just do not have the time to explore my feelings in a deeper way. Tomorrow afternoon I have a meeting with Wrexham Council that I need to prepare for plus countless emails I need to write without any comfort eating…

The fight continues.

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After watching Joe Solo, my own creativity was sparked into life again and when I got home I wrote the following Tanka while lying in bed.

Sepia stained youth

 Running free through fields of gold

Stranded in the past

As your whole body erodes

Revealed in digital form

 

 

If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Won’t Change You

It has been a busy old week that has included hospital visit to the cardiologist and physiotherapist, as well as stressful meetings with the Wrexham Supporters Trust board and illuminating emails from Welsh Labour bureaucrats  that clearly show that the Welsh Government have something to hide over the WILG debacle.

HEALTH 

It has been a mixed week health wise. Depending on where you stand, my visit to the cardiologist revealed good/bad news that my heart is in good working order and I don’t have to return to the cardiologist for another twelve months.

I have also been to see the physiotherapist who raised concerns about my posture in my wheelchair. This echoed concerns raised by the wheelchair assessment team who I visited a few weeks ago. While I was with the physiotherapist she showed me, on a skeleton, the extent of my scoliosis. It was upsetting to watch her bend the spine of the skeleton in to a disfigured position. I guess this is life with ataxia – constantly trying to come to terms with a disability that is forever stressing.

MEETING WITH WREXHAM SUPPORTERS TRUST 

On Wednesday night I was at a meeting with some familiar faces who I have mingled with for over thirty years, as a Wrexham AFC supporter. However, the majority of people at this meeting between the board of Wrexham Supporters Trust and the Disabled Supporters Association Committee did not seem to show any understanding of consideration to the plight of disabled supporters in general.

This is neither the time, nor place to go into a deep discussion of everything that was said at the meeting – I will save that for another day, but it should be noted that I was hugely disgruntled by the attitudes shown by a so-called ‘community club’.

SUSPICIOUS MINDS

I will be writing a separate blog dedicated to the highly suspicious actions of the Welsh Government in the latest communication as the battle to #SaveWILG continues and intensifies.

I am being put under an intense amount of pressure as my body deteriorates and being forced to fight for the right of disabled people against the Welsh Government, Wrexham Council and Wrexham AFC. Luckily I have been fighting all of my life and I have the strength and stamina to carry on standing up for what is right thanks to my amazing circle of friends and comrades…

TOM ALLEN 

36634891_10155554936421846_1430258593860419584_On Thursday evening [26/7/2018] I went to watch the supremely funny Tom Allen in action at William Aston Hall at Glyndwr University.

I have watched this comedian performing before, when he starred alongside Suzi Ruffell at the Catrin Finch Centre, which is also part of Glyndwr University.

When I heard that Allen was performing at the Catrin Finch Centre again, I quickly snapped up tickets. This was some time last year I think. Earlier this year I received a phone call saying that due to the high demand for tickets, the show would be moved to the larger William Aston Hall. I was disappointed by this as the Catrin Finch Centre is a more intimate venue, where comedians do not need to rely on the use of a microphone. This is good for me and my hearing, which struggles to fully grasp what is being said when a voice is projected through a microphone.

Last night proved that this is indeed the case. I was frustrated beyond belief as Allen energetically pranced around the stage in front of me, and came out with classic quips judging by the roars of laughter around me. Alas, I could not decipher any of the jokes and could only pick up on certain words such as ‘party rings’, ‘ham sandwiches’ and   ‘Phil Spencer’.

Subsequently, I decided to leave at the interval. This was no judgement on Tom Allen, but just another frustrating sign that my progressive condition is accelerating and stopping me from doing things that I enjoy. What I really needed was subtitles and this got me thinking. Last week, I attended a Disability Wales conference on Direct Payments in Newtown, Mid Wales. Disability Wales had organised for  Palyntype support to be available.

This is basically a machine for typing in shorthand, now often used in transcribing speech to text for deaf people.This transcription was projected on to a large screen so those that are hard of hearing can follow everything that is being said. I found this to be extremely useful and beneficial, and would have appreciated it last night. If I ever #SaveWILG this is something that I would like to campaign for being used in may more locations across the country, as we strive to make events accessible to all.

I am hoping for a quieter weekend…

#SaveWILG REACTION: Social services ‘close to breaking point’ as it faces £3m budget cut

This is a four part Tweet that I have just posted on Twitter in relation to an article that appeared in the local newspaper on Friday about the self manufactured crisis that Wrexham CBC Social Services find themselves in:

@fmwales @huw4ogmore @JulieMorganLAB @MarkDrakeford @johnpringdns @PaulNeilMartin @IanCLucas @lesley4wrexham @DavidRowlandsAM @JFinchSaunders @RhunapIorwerth @MikeHedgesAM @neiljmcevoy Still they want to close WILG. MANY LA’s are in similar situations: http://www.leaderlive.co.uk/…/16345358.wrexham-social-serv…/ … 1/4

Disabled people with high care and support needs across Wales MUST be protected. This is what EVERYONE believes is right apart from a few civil servants and Minister’s in Cardiff. Our FOI’s clearly show that there is chaos and confusion across Wales over WILG reassessments. 2/4

As my progressive condition deteriorates I am in urgent need of 24/7 care within my own home as I struggle against Mother Nature. No one should be forced to sleep on a urine soaked mattress due to inadequate care. This is happening NOW in the 21st century. 3/4

Welsh Labour need to look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves why they are in power if they can’t help those who need their help the most. 4/4

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Here is the article in question taken from The Leader

FEARS have been raised that social services in Wrexham are close to breaking point after it was revealed they could face a £3m budget cut.

Wrexham Council is looking to save approximately £11m in the next two years and has warned that a reduction in spending across both adults and childrens’s social care could be required unless central funding increases.

While stressing that the £3m figure had yet to be formally agreed, leading councillors are lobbying to be given more money to allow them to continue to protect vulnerable residents.

Addressing an executive board meeting this morning, leader of the council Mark Pritchard said: “They’re all important services and we’re here to protect and look after these difficult cases and individuals.

“We can’t continue to cut in these areas, because the departments and the service will break and it’s close to that now. I have no problem saying that.

“It’s only down to the dedicated staff in Wrexham and all across Wales that we continue to deliver these services.

“You can’t continually put money in health and not put money into social care. I have no problem with extra going into health, I celebrate it and it’s a must as well, but you can’t then not put it into social care as well.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand it, because I go and visit people and they are not aware of all the money being cut from us by Westminster and Cardiff.”

In a report it was revealed that Wrexham Council has made more than £6.3m worth of cuts to adult social care during the last four years and savings of approximately £1.3m from childrens’ services.

The social services department said it had made every effort to reduce the impact on vulnerable people while reshaping services.

However, an opposition group leader questioned where the suggested £3m savings figure had come from.

Labour leader Cllr Dana Davies said: “Can I have some clarity over where that £3m figure has come from over the next two years, as my understanding is we’re still in the budget process and no firm decisions have been made.”

In response, finance officer Mark Owen said the figures had been outlined at a previous meeting and were only indicative at this stage.

He said: “The executive board report that went in January of this year included savings which were agreed in principle at that stage in the adult social care area of about £1.9m and childrens’ social care of around £30,000.

“Then there was some other cross cutting savings associated with developing the budget for 2019/20. Those haven’t been decided that they’re going to happen, but they were clearly laid out in that report.

“You all know that we’re looking to save around £11m over the two years based on our planning assumptions and given the scale of the social care budget then the £3m would not be unreasonable in terms of the level of savings that would apply to that service area.”

Councillors voted to approve the annual social services director’s report and the improvement priorities highlighted.

The council’s final budget, including cost savings, is set to be decided at a future meeting.

Postcard Campaign Continues… #SaveWILG

It is time to breathe new life into our #SaveWILG postcard campaign. We already have hundreds of photos and would like to reach out across Britain to ask people to show their solidarity by posing with one of our postcard which can then be posted to the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies.

It is essential that we keep up the pressure and show the Minister the depth of support that we have on this matter. I have added some photos that we took at the Caia Park Environmental Group Fun Day in Wrexham on June 9th.

These provide good examples of the type of photographs we would like. All you need to do is contact me to request a card and I can make sure you get one. All our cards include a message to Huw Irranca-Davies on the reverse and once you have taken photographs then you can pop a second class stamp on them and post it to the Minister. 

Many thanks for your support 🙂

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There’s No Other Way #SaveWILG

I have thought long and hard about posting this blog after an exhausting trip to Cardiff on Tuesday [June 5th] to meet with Ministers and discuss the future of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

It was a very productive day, but one that resulted in much work still to be done along with a conscious effort on my behalf to review, renew and strengthen my aims and objectives for this campaign.

I had to start the day at 03:00 to venture down to Cardiff and meet the Petitions Committee at 10:00 in the Senedd. The committee are very much onside with the objective to save WILG , and Huw Irranca-Davies AM is due to give evidence in response on June 19th. Every minister on the committee is very supportive, and spent some time chatting to me, Adam and Angie following this meeting. A video of our meeting with the Petitions Committee can be viewed here. Our section on the meeting can be viewed after 1Hr 17Min.

We were full of positivity for our next meeting with the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies AM, but he spent the first fifteen minutes on the defensive and stated why the Welsh Government would be “standing firm” on their commitment to scrap WILG, and pass all responsibility for social care to local authorities. We all chipped in, but Adam Samuels was particularly effective in getting his point across, leading to HID asking Adam to ” calm down”. I don’t think Huw liked being spoken to by a confident person who was in possession of some convincing arguments about money and neo-liberalism.

HID had to leave early to support Carwyn Jones answering First Minister questions. You would have thought Carwyn was big enough to face these questions alone, #justsaying.

We were then left speaking to Gareth Griffiths, the Special Policy Advisor to HID. This was a positive and constructive conversation. We appreciated his points and vice versa. There could be areas to work towards a special compromise here, as Mr Griffiths struck a pragmatic and concilliatory tone. He advised me to send him all of the information that we have at our disposal, which shows that local authorities do not have a clear grasp on the transition process. We will also be submitting evidence of individuals who have suffered dramatic cuts in their levels of care, and the success of other schemes such as the Scottish ILF.

This was followed by positive meetings with both Mark Drakeford AM and Julie Morgan AM. Now is the time to let the information gleaned from these meetings sink in, and wait to see what happens at the Petitions Committee meeting in a couple of weeks. However, anyone who knows me will realise that I am not built to remain silent, and action must be taken immediately, in an appropriate and decisive manner.

I have been lying awake most of the night, since returning from Cardiff and it was during these frustrating hours that I discovered what we must do. All talk of compromise should be rejected. We have been running a hugely successful campaign, that has gained much momentum. Now is the time to use the soft power we have collected, in a positive manner, and keep on campaigning. It is essential that we do so, because the fight to save WILG is vital to disability rights across the UK. We owe it to our friends in England and the 1,300 recipients [though this has gone down to 1,250 according to the latest figures quoted by the Welsh Government].

The fact that i qualify for extra hours of care and support is not something that i am particularly happy about, but it is a fact that i require extra help to get the most out of my limited life. My desire for extra care is not motivated by greed at all, simply NEED. I do not need or expect to see “every penny piece” of the £27 million given to the Welsh Government to provide full Social Care to former ILF recipients. I would gladly see a fraction of this money being spent on administration so that we had a independent social worker to turn to rather than complete reliance on local authorities.

Former ILF recipients who currently receive WILG, have already been through an assessment process to prove that they have a certain level of care and support needs to be eligible for special treatment. Why should this certainty be pulled from underneath them in a cruel and callous manner? 

HID keeps saying that 400 WILG recipients have already made the transfer to direct payment, and some of these have received more hours of care. They are still at the mercy of underfunded local authorities and even though the Welsh Government promised to keep an eye on this, I cannot see this happening once the transition period has ended.

I was worrying about all of this last night. At 3.00 I woke up needing the loo. I use a bottle beside my bed that I had already filled with urine before waking up again. I struggled for 30 minutes to pick up  my full urinal, with my spasticated hands, through fear of spillage. When I finally managed to move the urinal in to position, I had already lost some of the contents of my bladder  on to the mattress. I had to remain on my wet mattress until help arrived at 9.00am. Try telling me that I don’t deserve 24 hour care, something that my own social worker told me that I would have “no chance” of getting from Wrexham Council, as “no one in Wrexham gets that amount of care”.

I should also note that I do not believe that I am in a good mental place to be going through the stresses and strains of another social care reassessment. It is totally needless and uncalled for, but it could save Wrexham Council a few pennies and we must remember that they need to find some spare cash to give the councillors another pay rise, and the latest iPads. I shouldn’t really complain.

I don’t see why we can’t protect people with high care and support needs, by noting all of the problems in this transition period and extending it indefinitely for at least 1,250 people. We should also allow this scheme to be open to others with high care and support needs, who need the guarantee of adequate support that local authorities alone just cannot provide. After bringing the campaign so far, I have certainly got no intention of cosying up to Wrexham Council. Someone has got to put their neck on the line for the sake of disabled rights in the UK, it may as well be me. I want to show the authorities up for what they really are.

I would also ask, yet again, for full access again to the consultation papers that were sent out to recipients. The Welsh Government have previously tried to fob us off with a mere summary that they have produced. This is not what we are asking for as we are only to aware that a summary document can be edited to suit the views of the Government. It does appear that the consultation was not adequately considered and that a decision to scrap WILG had been made before the consultation process even started. It also seems highly unusual that no minutes exist from the stakeholder group meetings.

I am not asking for the moon on a stick, just the chance to play the game of life on a level playing field. In turn, this would give Welsh Labour the opportunity to create some positive PR [at a time when they need it], and show that politicians can show some humility and humanity.

The fight continues …

Wear them with Pride

Two new badges have arrived and will soon be available. Thanks must go to Keith Sinclair and his badge making contact, Rob.

The first badge is of the character I created with the help of an online Avatar creator during my dark years in Inverness. I like using this Avatar on all my work as it means I did something useful during these ‘lost’ years. They are perfect for my growing fanbase who want to show their support for my work 🙂

The Wrexham DPAC badges will hopefully help to foster a sense of togetherness for disabled people based in Wrexham as we fight back against the exploitation shown towards to us by Wrexham Council. An example of this unfairness can be seen below.

Both badges will be available at forthcoming information days or directly from me at £1 each.

 

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I wrote the following paragraph in an email to a friend following an annoying trip to Wrexham Town Centre where they have just introduced car park charges for Blue Badge holders despite my protest, which can be read in previous blog posts.

Just had a frustrating drive around town where I could not find anywhere to park. These damn principles won’t let me pay the Council anything so it seems that I won’t be able to go to town until 2022 when I hope we can elect a decent bunch of Councillors. I was thinking of maybe printing loads of stickers to paste around town protesting these parking charges.Something needs to be done as all they have succeeded in doing is to cut me off from their hometown. I wanted to open a bank account at NatWest today but I am not paying to park my car.  

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Thanks to Sylvia Prankard for the photograph.