The paid help
I have just been shown a posting on a parents' blog – yet another – written by a mother from another new generation of parents finding out the hard way that she, her child, her family, their futures, are no more than grist to some huge, expensive paper mill that she and we, and I, am paying for through our taxes.
Hardly surprisingly, she writes anonymously, signing herself as 'miriamgwynne'. Her blog is called Faithmummy and the posting that I have just read begins –
It started before the meeting even began. Emails, phone calls and discussions between you all to synchronise diaries and finalise a time and location that suited everyone. Everyone, of course, except the insignificant mother. My diary was never checked. No-one asked if the time suited me or if the location was convenient. As long as the ‘professionals’ are fine with it that is what matters apparently....
So it goes. The same old story. This one comes from 'special educational needs' (daft, unthinking, bureau-professional category if ever here was one), it could just as well been from 'child care', or from 'community care', or from 'mental health, or from whatever they now call dealing with old people. This was from somewhere in Scotland, it could just as well be anywhere in the United Kingdom, perhaps from most countries in the developed world. This one refers to 2016, it could just as well have been fifty years ago, in 1966 (except that the hypocritical cant would not have been laid on quite so thick then).
I have watched all this grow and bed itself in for some fifty years now. I was younger and stronger once. Now that I am old and weak, this is no more than a spectator sport for me. Probablost of those who participated in this Great Game over those fifty years will have also now moved on – except of course the central players, the identified clients and the families who look after them. They had not volunteered for all this but, unless they have died, love and duty mean that they are still in it for the duration – they are lifers, till their game is done.
Ah, 'the professionals'. Nice people, most of them, I have always told myself. They probably came into this because they had good intentions and wanted to do good. Anyway, in many cases, they may have no useful skills or attributes for other, bolder, more creative careers. And once in, well, there was 'the system' and unless they did the decent thing and just walked away from it, they were trapped, and could no longer exercise free will and individual human understandings and compassion (they do not blog, however, so how can one ever know?)
'Professional', what a weasel word. It is used to imply higher-order knowledge, independent judgement, and an elevated moral code. Perhaps it still does. If only this could be so in ordinary reality. Try to imagine just how different the experience of the 'clients' might be if that were how things really are. If only professionals' hard-won qualifications were of transcending practical benefit to those at the front line, If only their highest moral principles were to take precedent over covering their backs and hiding blame.
The word 'professional' is the opposite of 'amateur'. It means 'paid'. Whatever the history of modern professions, in the early twenty-first century, most clients deal with the paid help, who should never be allowed to forget this. Where professionals are paid for through the public purse, they are public servants, something else that they should never be allowed to forget.
Who pays? We all do. It it were conceivable that better people would go into such trades. If there were better, more relevant knowledge to hand to prepare them to be of practical use in their jobs, if the organisations that employed them were conducive to creating and developing civilised, humane, services, shot through with those essential human elements of love and respect, then it might prove worth society's paying as it does, perhaps more even than we pay now.
As it is, however, you just can't get the help.
I cannot see any ways in which our society (and perhaps other societies too) might work towards solving the problem of 'the professionals'. If there is no apparent solution to work for. it may be tempting to act as if there is no problem. And so there will be many more such meetings as recorded in Faithmummy's blog, and more of what they represent, certainly to see my time out, and maybe hers too.
Indeed, will anyone alive today live to see better things? Or it this it, for ever?
miriamgwynne (2016) The insignificant mother? Faithmummy, 24 May