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‘I am an worried woman’ Dr Margaret Kennedy (PhD)

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1 ‘I am an worried woman’ Dr Margaret Kennedy (PhD)

2 I and my twin sister have a rare neuro- muscular degenerative disorder: Caused by… Mitochondrial disease Resulting in… ◦Parkinson’s/parkinsonism ◦Dystonia ◦Muscle myopathy

3 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

4 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

5 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

6 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” 27 th Oct. 2013

7 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

8 ‘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)

9 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 ‘non- productive, not contributing members of society]

10 Groups affected by ‘groupthink’ ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups.

11 Vulnerable groups Clients/ service users power Those with power: Government Troika

12 Abandonment Of perceived ‘less valuable’ members of society Less productive Most expensive Elderly Sick Disabled Young adults

13 accusations of ‘cheating’ the benefit system. Scrounging Using our disability for fraudulent purposes Exaggerating our difficulties. Disability hate crime. Abuse, assaults, abandonment

14 A daily onslaught against sick, disabled, and elderly people

15 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

16 Mongolia better than Ireland Professor Orla Hardiman, consultant neurologist: “that with only 33 neurologists in Ireland, Mongolia has more than Ireland has, despite having (1m) fewer inhabitants”

17 She also said, a 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.

18 Sellotape & Duct Tape for Holiday Repair recycled rubbish

19 More humiliation 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.

20 Ann Kennedy : “they want my power wheelchair back”!

21 Some professionals also engage in ‘group- think’ 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.

22 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.

23 How can we ‘build alliances, defend services’ when two groups are now at war, seen as adversaries rather that collaborators?

24 Austerity has severe Impact on professionals… scarce resources, fewer workers, Compromising vocation/service ‘care’ resulting in Sick leave Rudeness Phone calls not returned Blaming clients Ignoring clients Scapegoating clients Creating ‘double- binds’ That are intolerable

25 In the files of Mrs Brown Power-abuse ◦ My research ‘Living Well & coping in Co Wicklow in the age of austerity’

26 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!

27 Decisions based on funds not on need “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’.

28 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”

29 Scapegoating & Harassment 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.

30 EARLY DEATH is our fear 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…

31 People are dying, will die…or die early or at their own hands in despair. 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’ ◦

32 Unhappy professionals Cut resources Poorer services Needs not met Angry service users

33 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.

34 Austerity more humanly affects, in reality; poorer, vulnerable groups. Poverty Fear Anxiety Hunger Scapegoating, abuse, abandonment Cold No access to health services Death

35 Nothing left ?

36 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?

37 What can we do? There must be a respectful alliance between service users and professionals Positive power with service users is possible We must return to collaboration with service users… above all

38 We must ensure that our moral and ethical base is sound and strong And underpins everything we do With utter respect for the ‘out-group’

39 Equality is not for cutting – Human Rights, Human Life BECAUSE

40 Is precious

41 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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