Celtic Illumination, part 393, If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.
Although I found myself moving further and further away from the people I wanted to help, I still managed to find the time to get involved at the ground level, so to speak, and do some good. Again, whether or not you were actually doing any good was quite difficult to determine as usually there would be no verbal communication. Most of what I did was carried out on a gut feeling. You would find that the weakest of excuses had been made to lump people together in houses. In one of my houses where four people lived I had two elderly ladies, both approximately mid-seventies and two young fellows both mid-twenties. I can’t really blame it on social services as they were only trying to fulfil their political masters will and they didn’t really have the ability to organise the proverbial piss up in a brewery.
It was at this house where the staff had asked me to report Delia for abuse. One of the young men was incontinent and wore a nappy. One day he refused to tolerate anyone near him to change the nappy. This of course allowed the social workers to argue that he had the right to sit in a dirty nappy all day long if he so wished. Then there would have been the hygiene aspect to take in to account and the effect the smell would have on the other residents. To me it indicated that something else was wrong, there had to be a reason for him acting this way and we should try to find out what that problem was which might help us resolve the nappy problem. Delia decided that she would go and talk to the fellow, she knew him from Calderstones. She went in to his room, closed the door and two minutes later came out, triumphant, with a full nappy in her hands, like Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain waving his, ‘Peace for our time,’ treaty with Hitler.
The young man was not a very happy bunny but he now allowed the staff to take him away and bathe him. It was the following day that I was asked to take action against Delia as some of the staff felt that Delia had in fact physically abused the fellow by forcibly removing the nappy from him. It wasn’t the first time I had experienced this type of reaction, in one house one of the fellows went for a carving knife any time he saw Delia, something she laughed off. Delia really was the closest I have ever come to meeting the embodiment of Nurse Ratched from the film One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. In fact it would probably be safe to say that Delia was our very own Nurse Ratched as she could seemingly do whatever she wanted and the owners of the company allowed her to do so, as she kept order. It really was a strange situation and I remember talking, over a couple of beers, with the deputy head of social services in Manchester. I asked him outright how on earth someone like Delia could be allowed to work in learning disabilities. He looked at me and said, “Look, we know she is a liar and that we couldn’t trust her as far as we could throw her, but she gets the job done.”
I was confused; I still thought that Jan, with Natural Breaks in Liverpool, was the best boss I had ever come across in learning disabilities. Richard was a management freak, all paperwork and procedure, not a people person at all. Delia was a bully, plain and simple. She once gave me a glimpse into her personal life, telling me that when she was a newly married nurse, her police officer husband used to bring his girlfriend home and hammer lumps out of Delia if she raised any objection. I could understand her hating men or policemen, but she seemed to hate everyone. She always seemed to know about everything before you did; she terrified the team leaders, yet supported her mates. One of her mates, the bingo freak, who was now a service manager, I learned had been a cleaner before taking up her post with NWCS. No experience or qualifications, Delia just gave her the job, which of course she couldn’t do.
I was on such a sticky wicket, I knew that my only option was to leave and find a new job somewhere else but of course I wasn’t able to tell anybody about my intentions. I couldn’t even tell Garry during our regular moaning sessions. I found the worst thing I could do was think that I was on top of things, I’m not a great believer in luck but like fearing the number thirteen I would fear feeling confident that things were tickityboo. It was the same house where staff wanted me to report Delia for abuse where the trouble started. It was a sort of industrial action, the staff refused to work with the team leader. It was one of those problems where you know the best solution is to go and stick you head in a bucket until it goes away. Unfortunately I didn’t have a bucket with me that day. I arrived at the house to find an impromptu staff meeting had been called.
Seems that someone, here the finger of blame was firmly pointed at the team leader, had stolen a mobile telephone charger from the house. The amount of time I wasted listening to people who had seen this, that and the other, but not the team leader take the telephone charger and put it in his pocket. But all the staff knew it was him. The team leader was at his home so I went to visit him there. He was ex-army so I had hoped for a bit of direct communication from him. There’s a hell of a difference between army personnel and air force personnel. Army chaps can lift heavy things, repeatedly; air force chaps tend to be a bit more cerebral. It was like when I worked with the American Marines and I asked why certain members were referred to as ‘Grunts,’ seems that they would grunt when they lifted heavy things. Mind you, they would also grunt if you asked them their name, or what the time of day was, it would be fair to say that their vocabulary, and social skills, were somewhat limited.
This team leader decided to fight fire with fire; he was refusing to return to the house unless all the staff were dismissed. I promise you I was sitting in his tiny little flat at the top of a tower block in back street Manchester and I wasn’t in the mood for any of it. I could see that negotiations would be required but I wasn’t in the mood for running between the different parties, especially if I returned and found the lift was broken. I also realised that I couldn’t just tell him to shut up and get on with it, Delia had managed to get herself involved and was telephoning the team leader as I sat there talking to him. Despite the fact that I had pegged him as a typical ex-army thicko who had pretentions of being a barrack room lawyer he secured a good deal for himself. He would not return to the house and would step down from the company as long as NWCS paid for him to get his care managers license.
Not as thick as he was stupid looking. The problem may have been sorted but it now created another problem as in I didn’t have a team leader for that house. None of the staff were interested in applying for the post so the proverbial ball was back in my court. I managed to get one of the staff members to eventually step forward and take on the role of team leader. I assured him that I would give him as much support as he needed. I wasn’t that comfortable with the situation but it was the best I could do with what I had got. What really got to me was that Delia was still spending money buying people flowers and chocolates at thirty pounds a time and she was shovelling money toward any problem that raised its head, such as getting the tricky ex-army team leader to move on. All this cash came from the pool of money that was meant to help support people with learning disabilities to live in the community.
It didn’t seem right to me. But things have a way or resolving themselves. Richard’s three amigos, the three service managers in Liverpool were now about to move on. Garry had been made boss of the Liverpool operation, Joe had decided that, as I was now in effect his boss, he would go back to retail and had found himself a job in a shop that repaired microwave cookers. The third fellow, Nick, had found a job in Southampton and was moving away from the area although remaining in the world of learning disabilities. Garry was only acting boss of the Liverpool operation and apart from wanting three new service managers for Liverpool the feelers went out for a new director of operations.
Garry had a degree in history; he also had more tattoos than me and shaved his head every morning so was quite obviously much better qualified than I was for the position. But there was no reason I shouldn’t apply for it. This time I had to mention it to Delia as I would need her support, but she assured me that she would actually recommend me for the post to the two directors, her friends. I raised many a glass that evening to my old air force chums, our proposed, ‘employment with rapid promotion,’ scheme seemed to be coming true, if I could pull it off I knew my air force buddies would be chuffed for me but I also knew that there would be many support staff in both Liverpool and Manchester who might begin to wonder what form of skulduggery was behind my success.