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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

My Local Children's Centre- inclusive?? UPDATE

Today was one of those days you really dread. Having to have a public confrontation with Officialdom *

(* term used Loosely)

I was already very worried about my Midwife appointment today. I have no child care and so Tiddler has to accompany me to all of my antenatal appointments. This is far from ideal and incredibly stressful for both of us. She screams and cries as soon as anyone so much as puts the blood pressure band around my arm, let alone tries to take blood or if I have to lie down.

So anyway, apparently, "Every Child Matters"... It didn't feel like that today.

My complaint email is copied below. I will update with any response I get.

I visited your .... Centre today, 24th April and wish to draw your attention to the experience I had.

I had a booked Midwife appointment and, having used your centre before and being aware of your pushchair policy, I called ahead. I called on 18th April to seek reassurance that I would be able to bring my pushchair into the Children's Centre. I was told that this would be absolutely fine, Midwife appointments were different, but that you couldn't take a pushchair in to the Play and Learn sessions. Understandable, and I have indeed left my pushchair in the buggy park when I have attended Play and Learn sessions.

Upon arrival at the Centre today, I was told straight away that I could not take the pushchair in. I explained that I had called ahead and had been assured it would be ok. I was immediately challenged and asked who exactly I had spoken to. Unsurprisingly, I had not taken the name of the lady I spoke to (although looking at my phone records I have established it was 18th April at 08.48) I explained that my child has additional needs and so she had to be seated in the pushchair.

The first employee then went to get a colleague who came into the reception area. This colleague was clearly more empathetic than the first but was still adamant that I could not push the pushchair into the Centre. I explained that My daughter cannot stand unaided, cannot walk yet, has additional needs and that I have no child care meaning she must attend with me. I asked how else was I supposed to attend my Midwife appointment when the clinic is held here? The whole experience was made all the more frustrating as I had called ahead to establish that there would not be a problem. 

I was told that having the pushchair there posed a danger in that routes to fire exits could be blocked. I wonder then how a wheelchair user would have been greeted? Are they also guilty of blocking fire exits? How is this policy inclusive? I cannot believe I am the only Mum with a non-walker attending the Midwife, let alone a Mum of a child with additional needs. As the Midwifery clinic is held in the Children's Centre I cannot believe it is acceptable to attempt to bar access to services in this way.

The whole incident was upsetting, frustrating and embarrassing as the conversation was held in reception in earshot of one other mum.  Eventually, it was suggested that my daughter sit in a Tumbleform chair, or the worker would speak to the Midwife to see if she was happy if I took a pushchair into the appointment. The Midwife was busy and so was not disturbed, I assured the Centre worker that there was enough room in there for a pushchair- it seems that she did not know the room. In the end, I was told I could use the pushchair today, as a one off. 

At the very least, I believe the access policy should be reviewed. If not all patients can attend the Midwife clinic because of the Children's Centre policies, I don't see how it can be held there. this is not inclusive, in effect I am being denied a service because of my daughter's health problems. I understand that you cannot allow every pushchair in the building but at the same time I also think there needs to be some flexibility, especially when I had called ahead to check the position. This was a humiliating and stressful experience and I look forward to your response.

As promised, here is the response to my complaint:

"Dear ******
I was very concerned to hear that you did not have a happy experience at ******* Children’s Centre this week.  I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for you at the moment.
I have spoken to the administrator who was your first contact on Tuesday, and our family worker who was the second member of staff.  Both are extremely sorry that you went away feeling upset and angry.  I gather that you were finally given access to meet the midwife so did not miss your appointment. 
We are having some issues at ******* at the moment as you have probably noticed, with a leaky roof.  With all this rain that has not been made easier and the repairs are taking longer because of it.  This has made the corridors and fire exits rather difficult to access which would not normally be the case and I believe the staff were being very concerned around the health and safety of all people accessing and exiting the building.
I also wondered if you would like to join a group of parents who could advise us on how they feel Children’s Centres could be more inclusive.  ... we run a group for children who have been diagnosed with autism and the parents are vital in informing us about the service we deliver.
I do hope this email has made you feel more reassured but should you feel you need to discuss the matter further, please do contact me on the mobile number or email me on the contacts below...."

And in response my reply... There is still no confirmation that I can take a pushchair into the building. I appreciate the time taken to reply but feel that this reply did little to address my complaint.

"Hi ****

Thanks for your response to my complaint. I appreciate the time you took to look into this, thank you. However, I am unsure from your response whether next time I will be allowed to bring the pushchair in to the building?  Can you please confirm that this will be the case? 

While I know that there are building works at the moment, certainly when we were at the Centre there were none inside and no obstructions of fire exits. As I asked in my earlier email, what am I and others like me supposed to do ? Would the policy be the same for wheelchair users? 

Finally, I would be interested in joining a Parents Forum, certainly-great idea!

I look forward to hearing from you"

Will post any response to the Blog. Anxious to get this resolved though otherwise pretty concerned as to how I will attend any further Midwife appointments... Especially if I don't have notice to ask the Midwife if she can meet me elsewhere


Sunday, 22 April 2012

I find different difficult.

Tiddler had her OT follow up on Friday. In the main, the appointment went ok. her headbanging is still the major concern... I had managed to video episodes of her headbanging in the car which was useful I think.

They have no idea why she is doing this, my theory is that it is Tiddler trying to get a "buzz" or any sort of sensory feedback. It isn't linked to mood but is much more prevalent in the car. Unfortunately, Tiddler is still too small for the next size car seat which is frustrating nd means there is little we can do about her seating for now really unless we buy an entirely different car seat to the one we already have for her to move onto. We have found that she stops headbanging in the car when we turn music up very loud- this has prompted the Therapist to recommend we get her hearing checked out but she has also suggested we try T with headphones playing soothing music. I have no idea how small they make headphones but it's nothing a good Google won't solve! We are waiting for a helmet for T as they cannot be sure she isn't causing damage with the banging.

This is heartbreaking for me but I don't feel we have an option right now. I just don't want her to look different I suppose... This is clearly my issue. I need to get my head round it. I don't want people to make judgements about her. I don't want the looks. Or the questions. There is of course nothing wrong with being different. My little girl is fantastic and beautiful in every way but although I can write the words I can't quite live the words as well. I still find different difficult.

Monday, 16 April 2012

27 weeks pregnant

So this might be cheating a but... Not quite talking about Tiddler... More me and bump.

Am now 27 weeks pregnant- didn't know this, had to google it, just find it so hard to keep track as Tiddler consumes almost every ounce of energy I have!

It has been a very different pregnancy so far- I suppose they always are but I have been surprised how different I have felt. I am certainly more tired than I was during my first pregnancy as this time round I don't ever have the option to take it easy or not carry Tiddler. I find her unpredictable movements difficult to cope with, she arches back quite violently and suddenly and I think because she is so bendy this poses more of a problem to the person holding her. This person most often being me. Nappy changes are also a complete nightmare... Any tips very much welcomed! She is too small for the "pull ups" style so we have a fight to get her to lie down and not thrash around, arch or crawl away.

The combination of Tiddler being Tiddler and that this pregnancy has occurred so soon after the last has meant that my joints are struggling. I am suffering from some Pelvic Girdle Pain, previously known as SPD, and have also hurt my lower back from carrying Tiddler. After pushing, I have been referred for physiotherapy, I have had my first session and I can assure you that its not a good idea to take your 16 month old to such appointments. In fact its bloody madness, but that's another story. I have also started Pilates which I hope will help as I still have 12 weeks T go!

The other thing that I hope will help will be if Tiddler can stand unaided to help me out a little when lifting... She is doing well and surpassing all expectations so you never know!

I just can't help myself can I, still written about Super Tiddler!!