Monday, September 21, 2015

An Update

In my last few posts, I talked about three major obstacles to the baby preparations.

One was the difficulties of getting assessed for a suitable wheelchair. After my last post, a number of people gave me details of companies and charities who had been useful to them. Sadly when I followed up these leads, some weren't able to help, and others were unhelpful by choice, showing me the chairs they wanted to sell rather than the chairs that would meet my needs, and calling it an assessment.

Thankfully, this turned out to be the easiest situation to resolve. The experiences with the "assessors" convinced me that I might as well ditch my fear that going into a mobility showroom would leave me prey to unscrupulous salespeople. I called a local showroom, explained my needs, and arranged an appointment. When I arrived, the salesman had several chairs lined up that did meet my specifications. After a bit more discussion and measuring, I was having a test ride, which included seeing if my favourite one would fit in the car. It did. The salesman then encouraged us to take our time, go home, have a think, and phone him on Monday if we wanted to buy it... and a brand-new one was delivered by him to our house at the end of that week.

I'm gradually getting used to it and I think it's going to meet my needs well.

There was Social Services, where "my" social worker had gone off sick less than three months into my pregnancy. The refusal of Warwickshire Social Services to transfer my case to a different social worker "because she'll be back soon" meant that I had no support at all until my pregnancy was past the half-way point, at which stage it was conceded that the Duty Social Worker team could help out with my case if they had time. I saw a Duty Social Worker at 26 weeks pregnant, but at the time of my last post, I wasn't confident that it had gone well.

At 32 weeks and with my assessment still waiting to be seen by the decision makers, my Health Visitor decided to see if she could intervene in any way. She was told that "my" original social worker was due back in the office any day and would definitely call her back as a matter of urgency. Except of course that this was every bit as much a lie as it had been every time I'd been fobbed off with it during the Spring.

Then at 33 weeks pregnant, for reasons it's probably best not to speculate on, I was officially reassigned to the proper caseload of the social worker who had been the Duty Social Worker who had seen me almost two months earlier. A few days later, I was given a date for my caesarean section which will be at about 39 weeks. I'm not sure if this deadline helped - at 35 weeks pregnant, with four weeks of pregnancy remaining, I think my assessment for additional support during pregnancy was very nearly ready to be submitted to the panel...

On the bright side, the Health Visitor and the no-longer-duty Social Worker are liaising directly now, and I think the midwife might be as well.

Which means I'm free to worry about the stairlift. At the time of my last post, after the delays caused by the absent social worker situation, we had sped through the assessment process thanks to a helpful and super-efficient OT and were awaiting a quote, which arrived, as it was supposed to, just before 28 weeks of pregnancy.

We signed, wrote a cheque for a deposit of over £2,000, and got it back to them next-day. According to the contract, this meant installation would happen within 6-8 weeks - so at the very latest, before 36 weeks of pregnancy (or "well before the end of September" for those of you who prefer a traditional calendar). It was cutting it fine, but it would be okay.

We were quite surprised to then be offered an installation date in the middle of October, or 39 weeks of pregnancy.

There were two problems with that.

One was that it was 3 weeks over the maximum 8 weeks promised in the contract, which really is not good enough when you are forking over five thousand pounds for essential equipment. I signed that contract on the understanding that my stairlift would be installed within the timeframe specified in the contract.

The other was that the date they were suggesting was the actual date for which my caesarean is booked.

After a lot of phone calls (which is always me phoning them, because their inability to stick to their own suggested timescales extends to calling back when they say they will), they have managed to rearrange for installation to happen in the first week of October. This is still breaching the contract - but I don't have the choice to make a big deal about that, because I need a stairlift in place before the baby gets here, and it is too late to get one from a different provider.

I am in my final month of pregnancy. I am supposed to be thinking nice, nurturing thoughts, and doing gentle exercises, and nesting. If I was at work and experiencing this kind of stress, I would be advised to start my maternity leave now. But there's no maternity leave from this situation.


fleda said...

It's a good thing I'm housecleaning today because I just made a mess howling and throwing things. And I expect nobody's taking any responsibilities for the cock-ups, to boot. Geeezus H'aggravating christ, there seems to be a lack of understanding of "service" down your way. I guess their plan is that you will go away in three more weeks so why bother!

Mary said...

I agree, it has crossed my mind that the supervisor/management layer at Social Services are just trying to run out the clock on my pregnancy - of course the trouble is that I'll also need support *with* the baby, ongoing. So all they've done is exchanged the opportunity to deal with an unusual situation in a calm, sensible manner, for the necessity of dealing with it as a crisis.

The stairlift company, I can only imagine that they don't give a toss about customer service on the basis that they've already cashed the cheque for the deposit (they managed to do that bit fast enough) and once the installation is done, it's at least five years before I might be in the market for a new one.