I am an angry woman` - Social Work Action Network

Report
‘I am an worried
woman’
Dr Margaret Kennedy
(PhD)
[email protected]
I and my twin sister have a rare neuromuscular degenerative disorder:
Caused by…

Mitochondrial disease
Resulting in…
◦ Parkinson’s/parkinsonism
◦ Dystonia
◦ Muscle myopathy

Who am I?


A former nurse
Former Social worker
Former social work lecturer
Specialist/expert on Disability & Abuse
Campaigner on Clergy Sexual Abuse
Disability equality activist

All of these plus my new role…

Service User / Disabled woman




 How
do you go from being a PhD
…university lecturer…speaking at the
EU…in the Oireachtas…world wide…to
‘Service – User’
in an
age of the
Troika
imposed
austerity?’
It is a profound SHOCK
 Being
a service user in an
age of austerity
Brings








Humiliation
Degradation
Loss of self-esteem
Loss of self
Loss of status
Loss of role
Loss of power
Great fear and anxiety
Fight
Fight
Fight

Nessa Childers MEP

‘throughout the ‘bailout’ countries, [the
EU, ECB, and IMF Troika]

…imposition of health cuts is at the heart
of their austerity agenda”.

“ shameful dismantling of our health
services”

27th Oct. 2013

Research has shown that [in Greece]
infections, infant mortality and mental
health problems has escalated as a result’.

‘Doctors from Portugal, Spain, Ireland &
Greece sent an open letter to European
political leaders and health authorities
deploring the effects that financial and
economic decisions… are having on the
health of their countries. They called for
immediate action to reverse this situation’
ignored
‘Groupthink’
Irving Janis (1972)
Governments unable to see the plight of another
group
Senior Professionals (HSE managers) unable to see
the plight of clients
(usually under pressure from Government policies)

Groupthink is …

when a group makes faulty decisions because
of group pressures [Troika]

This lead to a deterioration of “mental
efficiency, reality testing, and moral
judgment”.

Scapegoating of ‘expensive’ clients/service
users

[welfare recipients or perceived ‘nonproductive, not contributing members of
society]
 Groups
affected by ‘groupthink’
 ignore
alternatives and
tend to take

irrational actions that
 dehumanize

other groups.
Those with
power:
Government
Troika


Vulnerable
groups
Clients/
service
users
Abandonment

Of perceived ‘less valuable’ members of society

Less productive

Most expensive
Elderly
Sick
Disabled
Young adults

accusations of ‘cheating’ the benefit system.

Scrounging

Using our disability for fraudulent purposes

Exaggerating our difficulties.

Disability hate crime.

Abuse, assaults, abandonment
A daily onslaught against sick,
disabled, and elderly people

Neurology care
700,000 people with neurological
disorders in Ireland
Ireland has 7 rehabilitation
consultants; if we had 50 we'd still
have the second lowest per capita
rate in Europe. If we had 150
consultants, we'd have fewer per
capita than Serbia, Czech Republic,
Estonia, Latvia and Croatia
 Professor
Orla Hardiman, consultant
neurologist:
“that with only 33
neurologists in Ireland,
Mongolia has more than
Ireland has, despite having
(1m) fewer inhabitants”
Mongolia better than Ireland
 She
a
also said,
number of her patients [with
motor neurone disease] who had been
awarded medical cards are
having them withdrawn,
maybe two years into their
illness with six to nine
months to live.
Sellotape & Duct Tape for Holiday
Repair
recycled rubbish
 My
recent ‘clinical care team’
meeting only managed to
make me feel as if I was a
complete ‘object of concern’
not a truly participating adult
in my own care plan.
More humiliation
Ann Kennedy : “they want my
power wheelchair back”!

Some professionals also engage in ‘groupthink’

The alignment of managers to the
government policies of the day…even if
they harm the client

The denigration of clients who ‘protest’
because it is THEY who are making the
professionals life ‘difficult’.

Scapegoating of clients who do not ‘help’
senior managers keep budgets to
Troika/Government demands.

Groupthink professional practice which
dehumanises

Conjecture/assumption about client’s
wealth or capacity
Malicious judgement about clients
Assessments based on budget constraint
not on client need
Breaches of confidentiality
Blaming client when things ‘go wrong’
Reports/assessments written to fit
‘groupthink’ [austerity politics] rather
than reflect reality.





How can we
‘build alliances, defend
services’ when two
groups are now at war,
seen as adversaries
rather that
collaborators?
Austerity has severe Impact on
professionals…
scarce resources,
fewer workers,
Compromising vocation/service ‘care’
resulting in






Creating
‘doubleSick leave
binds’
Rudeness
Phone calls not returned That are
Blaming clients
intolerable
Ignoring clients
Scapegoating clients
 In
the files of
Mrs Brown
Power-abuse
◦
My research ‘Living Well & coping in Co Wicklow in the age of
austerity’
Assumptions
‘The architect and I were of the
impression that she had private
funds as she had allowed him to
draw up elaborate plans which
she kept changing’ (OT)
The OT and Architect became the ‘in-group’ over
the ‘out-group’ client…even in her own home! The
belief was the client was withholding information ;
defrauding state!
“Will she need a level access
shower in future? If so who
will fund it?” (OT)

The ‘in-group professionals’ were
aligning with the ‘in-group politicians’.
Taking on the rhetoric that the client is
‘expensive to the state’.
Decisions based on funds not on need

Client viewed as ‘manipulative’ for
requesting a social worker.
Social Worker writes on notes:
“There is always the issue with Mrs
Brown that if she protests enough
she will get what she wants”
This social worker also admits:
“there is a vacant social work post in this area”

Mrs Brown complained about the
services she was receiving and was
then deemed by HSE to have
◦ ‘unreasonable complainant behaviour’

Without ANY process or without
following any procedures laid down
concerning complaints.
Scapegoating & Harassment
 We
must now accept that in
Ireland today, poor, sick,
disabled and elderly people are
slowly being ‘poisoned’ by this
government , by the troika, by
austerity in all sorts of ways…
 Such
that life itself becomes
precarious…
EARLY DEATH is our fear
 Our
health and welfare services
are no longer ‘fit for purpose’,
we are on our knees , in fact the
whole of the HSE services are
falling apart; deliberately
dismantled by the troika’
People are dying, will die…or die
early or at their own hands in
despair.
◦
Unhappy
professionals
Angry
service
users
Cut
resources
Needs
not met
Poorer
services
We have to see the reality of
Austerity politics
It is the intent to save a nation but in
doing so annihilating the vulnerable
We saw this in the 1930’s & through
the WWII, where ‘out-groups’ were
scapegoated and killed.
Are we seeing eugenics by
stealth?... This is why I am a
worried woman.
Austerity more humanly affects, in
reality; poorer, vulnerable groups.








Poverty
Fear
Anxiety
Hunger
Scapegoating, abuse, abandonment
Cold
No access to health services
Death
Nothing left ?
I
ask you to consider….
 What
do I do with the power I have?
 Am
I working for & with my
clients/service users or am I working
for the government/Troika?
 Because
of pressure from austerity
policies do I inadvertently
‘dehumanise’ service users?
 What
can we do?
 There
must be a respectful alliance
between service users and
professionals
 Positive
possible
 We
power with service users is
must return to collaboration with
service users…
above all
 We
must ensure that our
moral and ethical base is
sound and strong
 And
do
 With
underpins everything we
utter respect for the
‘out-group’

BECAUSE
Equality is not for cutting – Human
Rights, Human Life
Is precious

References

Janis, Irving L. (1972). Victims of
Groupthink. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
 Janis, Irving L. (1982). Groupthink:
Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions
and Fiascoes. Second Edition. New York:
Houghton Mifflin.

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