Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A complaints strategy

Shout ballistics calculated. In the end, I decided to direct some 'friendly fire' at the OT to try to get the suction machine mended. As the manufacturer had themselves resorted to shouting at nurses and the Loan Store wasn't doing anything, I felt it was time for an independent to bang some heads together.

As a carer, we have very little status with these organisations and consequently no leverage. About the only weapon we do have is complaining to a responsible professional (surgical strike). This is obviously indirect, slow and heavily dependent on the goodwill and professionalism of the individual. Fortunately, in this case I have some confidence in the OT and I'm hopeful we'll get the broken bits sorted out fairly quickly - as long as she isn't on holiday. If she is, or in other circumstances where there isn't a helpful professional, the only option I've found that works is to turn up the volume on the 'complain' knob and aim it wider (blanket bombing) until someone feels embarrassed enough to do something. This makes you look like a whingeing troublemaker. The only option if that doesn't work is to threaten to make it a potential PR issue (nuclear option). This usually gets results but you can't use it very often without losing credibility.

I know it sounds very calculating and cynical and is plenty justification for branding me a serial complainer and professional whinger. I'm sure that's one of the labels I have in private among many of the professionals but I'm afraid I'm willing to live with that. I really don't like complaining. I find it frustrating, demeaning and uncomfortable. The only reason I do it is that it's the only way I have to get what my son needs. What we're actually talking about here is a piece of life critical equipment - he could literally die if it isn't sorted out. And I'm afraid I'd be willing to do much more embarrassing things to stop that happening.

Carers have very little real power - what we do have makes us look bad. I wish it weren't like this. If I could mend the sucker myself, I would.

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