I'm still reeling from yesterday's discovery that for his first two weeks in the Unit, Steven believed I was dead and that it didn't occur to the staff that a simple phone call to me would take away all that anxiety. Not for the first time that year, the rules and policies of the Unit were put before the needs of the residents.
Which brings me on to teeth.
Steven has always been pretty good with his personal care. He can do most things. The two things he has always struggled with is wiping his bottom and brushing his teeth. I've sat for hours with him in the bathroom trying to teach him how to brush his teeth but he just licks the toothpaste off the brush and does a cursory couple of strokes with the toothbrush on his front teeth. To preserve his teeth, it is safer and better to clean his teeth for him.
This went against the Unit policy of "Independence". Steven had to clean his own teeth and if he couldn't (or wouldn't) do it, that was that. The staff were obviously told not to intervene. You may remember from an earlier blog that I had to go through their training programme in personal care and their idea of support was giving verbal instructions and encouragement. And if that is the Unit policy, they couldn't deviate from that at all, regardless of the person's needs.
In the summer of 2010, Steven's normal support workers took him for a dental check up and his long term dentist was shocked by the deterioration in his teeth. He needed two fillings and she remarked how dirty his teeth were. The dentist phoned me to tear me off a strip (she didn't know that Steven was away) and when I explained to her what was going on, she wrote a letter to the Unit, detailing a dental care plan for Steven.
It was never implemented. Well, not until Steven came home six months later.