Whose Learning Disability?

I called my local adult social care team earlier to check they’d received the form I’d sent in describing the difficulties I’m experiencing at the moment. The friendly woman I spoke to confirmed that they’d got it, but said they’d be passing it on to the learning disability team:

TH: Why?

Social Worker: Because we wouldn’t deal with Tourettes.

TH: But I don’t have a learning disability.

Social Worker: My manager said we have to pass it on to the learning disability team.

TH: But I really don’t have a learning disability. My difficulties are mainly to do with mobility.

Social Worker: Hang on – let me talk to my manager.

Social Work Manager: Hello?

TH: Hi. Your colleague told me you’ve received my self-assessment but are planning to pass it to the learning disability team. I’m confused because I don’t have a learning disability.

Social Work Manager: I know Tourettes isn’t technically a learning disability, but they deal with conditions like Aspergers. We only deal with physical disabilities.

TH: I have a neurological condition and my involuntary movements are my biggest problem. They’re physically disabling and seriously affect my independence. Socially and intellectually I’m fine, I just can’t get up and down stairs.

Social Work Manager: The learning disability team will be able to help you better. They might be able to help you manage your tics.

TH: How? I have all the medical care I need and they’re not going to be able to do anything my neurologist can’t. I need practical help and support.

Social Work Manager: We provide aids and equipment and stuff. We won’t really be able to help you.

TH: So you don’t provide people with support workers?

Social Work Manager: Well, we do, but normally for things like help around the home or with going shopping if someone can’t walk easily.

TH: That’s what I need. I’m living in unsuitable accommodation. I have a job I love and some support at work, but my mobility has deteriorated and I’m dependent on friends for help. I’m really not managing on a practical level. I understand that there’s not going to be a dedicated Tourettes team, but I would’ve thought that the best way to assess which team should support me would be to look at the nature of the problems I’m experiencing. At the moment mine are mainly linked to my mobility.

Social Work Manager: I take your point and I’ll discuss it with the other managers here and the manager of the learning disability team, and get back to you.

TH: Thank you.

Which team provides help isn’t necessarily that important if the support I need is provided, but I’ve worked in social services and know that the learning disability team isn’t going to accept my case because I won’t meet their eligibility criteria.

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