Thursday, 17 January 2008
Mental Health: Strange World Gets Even Stranger
In October last year, I posted Mental Health: Strange World Gets Stranger" in which I said:
"'Shock and Dread' explained how we are fighting desperately for appropriate treatment but were consistently denied all save anti-depressants and a yet-to-be-received self-help book.
A few weeks ago I visited our GP about me; my stress; how I was struggling to keep going but had to keep going. Now I have an appointment with a Community Mental Health Nurse to assess my need for a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN). If successful I will accept help from a CPN. I will accept anything which will help me and my family.
Why is the strange world getting stranger?
Well, I was successful and I am now seeing a CPN to help me cope with my stress, anxiety and depression and Mrs Carr has still not been offered any support.
But there is more.
We approached a voluntary organisation in August (I think) hoping to get some residential support but our request was rejected because Mrs Carr's needs were too intensive for the organisation to support. Rather than simply walk away I asked if they would consider "at home" support and they were quite positive about this option and so a few weeks later we turned up for an interview. No promises were made but we were hugely encouraged. At last, it seemed that support - even if it were only a few hours a week - was available.
Some weeks later the letter arrived. Yes!! Suppport is there! All that was needed was for a worker to visit and devise a Care Plan.
Today we had that visit. NO support now available.
Why? Because more than 4 months after we made contact; more than 2.5 months after the interview, we were asked to complete a Financial Assessment and - surprise surprise - our savings are more than the £8000 cut-off and, therefore, we would have to meet the full costs. Now I can accept that there have to be rules - we always seem to be on the wrong side of them - but we were allowed to get our hopes up only to have them dashed so cruelly. We should have been asked about our finances right at the start of the process and we would have moved on but, having been told that support was allocated, we've had 2 months of thinking, "At last, help. We'll start to feel a difference".
We were told today that almost all applicants get their support paid because they are on some form of benefit. Do mental health problems not affect the middle classes? If not, where do they go for help? I wish I knew.
But there is more still.
Having lost out on support for Mrs Carr I was told today that I might be eligible for respite as a carer. A few hours later, the phone call: "Yes, You are eligible and we have a 2 hour slot available, 1 day a week, and when more slots become available you may get even more respite." A support worker will be with Mrs Carr and I am free to do what I wish and the support is FREE.
I accept, of course, but this must be a joke.
Mrs Carr is ill, there is support but we have to pay the full cost. I am her carer and I get FREE support.
Why is the strange world getting even stranger?
Obviously we will both benefit from this arrangement and we are both delighted but why is it so much easier for a carer to get help - that's twice now - than it is for the patient - sorry, service user - herself?
This strange world gets even stranger!