Monday, 31 March 2014

Story Sixteen - Timer

After a few weeks in the Unit, they introduced a couple of ideas "to help Steven with his anxiety". They sailed straight past the point that his anxiety was caused by him being there in the first place. Yesterday's story about only using four word sentences with Steven was one of the "innovations". Another was the timer......

The Unit felt that Steven didn't manage the anxiety around time very well. They introduced a timer which they'd set for a specific time and when the alarm went off, that signalled the start (or ending) of the activity. I was confused because at home, Steven had never had much problem with gauging time - "Steve, going when swimming when Jeremy Kyle starts". "Steve, going on holiday in two more Mondays". Life at home was constructed around the routines that Steven so desperately needs, that timing never became an issue. He was used to having his tea as Come Dine With Me starts and then going up for his bath as the 6 o'clock news begins.

It was different at the Unit because the needs of the staff and other residents had to be taken into account. The house rules became the driver. Steven was expected to suddenly learn a whole set of negotiation skills that had never been relevant before. Every time he wanted to do something, he had to negotiate with everyone - if he wanted to watch Countdown, he had to ask all the staff and other residents if he could.

Steven had been to a car boot sale and picked up an old Mr Bean video. It was one he had at home but he was very excited at this discovery. The sale was on a Sunday - the staff promised him he could watch the video the following Saturday. Goodness knows why he had to wait 6 days.

He woke up early on the Saturday morning and the shift leader that day was another of the "I'm more important than you" crowd. She set the timer for four hours hence. She told Steven and his support worker that they needed to let the staff and other residents do their normal Saturday morning stuff before he could watch the video. Of course, there was no reason why he couldn't have watched the video straight away but this was all about power.

At about 11 o'clock, and with the alarm due to go off at 12 o'clock, the shift leader decided that Steven needed to go to the shop to get some milk. Steven had been watching the timer intently for the past three hours and wasn't keen on going. It wasn't open to negotiation. By the time they got back from the shop, the alarm had been stopped and as they were now into preparing lunch, the shift leader made Steven set the alarm for another three hours. He kicked off.

I arrived at 1 o'clock for my normal visit, and not knowing any of what had gone on, tried to encourage Steven to get on with his music tape. Of course, he was expecting Mr Bean. By this time he had been waiting five and a half hours. He was in a serious meltdown.

When his meltdown was logged there was no mention of the Alarm or Mr Bean in the "antecedents". It was just logged as another example of Steven's behaviour "that needs further assessment".

#107days #justiceforLB


  1. The sheer meanness of the petty pointless cruelties imposed by jobsworths in "caring" institutions or organisations is one of the most dispiriting things to try to come to terms with. In the end I sadly conclude that some such people do it deliberately to hurt and distress others, but hide behind a front of "Doing a good job" (perhaps even to fool themselves). God knows what goes on in their heads.

  2. I wonder if this 'shift leader; worked at Winterbourne view? They also used abuse and manipulation of the residents to create 'challenging' behavior to justify and extend the placements .All units of this kind should have CCTV with sound Psychiatrists should evaluate first hand and not through care workers notes and reports. Better still close them down and prosecute the staff and in particular the evaluating Psychiatrists responsible for the persons care and well being. Time for change. Bring on the red buses

  3. Not just units of this kin to have CCTV abuse and manipularion goes on everywhere my daughter lives in "Supported Living" and it's a joke the days starts with baths showers get up get out to a "Day Service" not much choice in that! Then home and usually spend rest of day under a blanket to watch more Jeremy Kyle and complete and utter boredom whilst the "Carers" will (if you leave the room change tv to Sky News and concentrate on their mobile phiones very little interaction with the people they support The Company providing the support and the Day Service from these peoples personal budgets have a dynamic web site tellin you how great thery are and awards they have won for supporting people and its utter "B........T! Yes indeed TIME FOR CHANGE BRING ON THE RED BUSSES