Though the parents 2nd stage complaint against Cyngor Gwynedd Council showed serious failings within the Children and Families Department and was upheld by independent investigators in 2010 nothing has changed.
I have read through the report and noticed that many names involved back then are now ensconced as managers in Gwynedd social services, though it is not for me to say if these same people are now acting out of spite or have always been so unprofessional.
My experience working in the mental health field with dementia, learning difficulties, challenging behaviour and acquired brain injury was no use to me at all in this case and I was playing catch up for the first year learning about PDA, the boy’s complex needs and gaining his trust.
I stood back and watched as first the Council got in contact and after discussions agreed that support may be available and a social worker would be assigned. Everyone was wary because of the behaviour of social services in the past but it was agreed that help towards social skills and integration was more important.
A social worker was allocated and a support worker was granted. Unfortunately the support was still not provided and so in desperation a solicitor was contacted and only then was a support worker assigned.
The first social worker was replaced by a second , this time from Children and Families, as the disability team would not assess, due to the boy having too high an IQ. This social worker introduced himself as having no experience of Autism and was not a disability social worker but said he was there to help.
He did not endear himself to anyone over the next period by comments such as –
‘We are really doing the education departments job’
‘What to do you want a core assessment for? I don’t see what use it will be, can you explain to me how you think it will benefit *****? ‘
‘I’m a very busy man you know’ (when he failed to phone back)
‘This service is really for people that need a social worker’
But he was all my partner had to work with and the fact the boy was, finally, going to get help with socialisation and independent living skills was enough for me to still my misgivings and keep my professional mouth shut.
The help and support that eventually began was anything but.
Communication was poor and I mean mono-syllabic from the support worker when asked for feedback. One day he just grunted at me when I tried to engage him.
Different days different times and sessions that were arranged with less than 24 hours notice – and sessions were strictly on a take it or lose it basis.
The stress of dealing with this ‘care support’ had a knock on effect in dealing with other aspects of care and we all suffered for a period.
So a letter of complaint was sent to Support Services at Cyngor Gwynedd Children and Families Dept asking for continuity of times and reminding them that due to the boy’s complexities the family had no idea of where he was taken, what subjects were discussed or how he engaged with others if at all and simply a plea for feedback to help us to help him progress with socialisation.
It is called team work and every professional in the care field will recognise its importance for the child and family – except, it appears, at the Children and Families Department of Gwynedd council.
A letter was duly received apologising for blah blah blah and informing us that we had to ask the social worker to ask the support worker to communicate with us re the sessions !!!! But they did take on board our need for certain times to avoid clashing with the child’s education.
To be fair we were allowed the same time and day every week which removed so much stress and I am grateful for that. Imagine being grateful for a regular weekly slot from a children and families service(!) but I truly was.
The feedback from the support worker however did NOT materialise.
(Another social worker was asked further down the line again if we could have some feedback – again nothing)
In fact we did receive reports written by the support worker eventually. We asked Social Services for their file on the family and they were included. So much interesting information (and mis-information) But that is for future posts.
My misgivings and worry about what I considered unprofessional and totally unacceptable behaviour turned to anger when I returned home and found my wife crying. She had had a phone conversation with the social worker which had caused her upset.
Then after I listened to the recording of the conversation I became quite upset, too.
A meeting between the social worker and my wife had been arranged but I wanted to be there for support so I emailed Cyngor Gwynedd Customer Care to raise my concerns about their social worker, Jamie Haydon and cancel the meeting.
My email and first contact with Cyngor Gwynedd Council was dated 29th Feb, 2016.