Ots Don'T Have Gardens
0 comment Sunday, May 18, 2014 |
D from Independent Gardening told me one of her landscaping mentors was making a roundabout point in a conversation once about why OTs for social services, and social services themselves, do not recognise gardening as viable therapy for the disabled. Eventually D asked "Are you saying OTs don't think gardening is important because they live in flats? Right, I agree."
I thought at first this can't possibly be true...with all the information out there by Thrive, Cultivations, and Gardening for Disabled, with every single hospice or autism school which installs a therapy garden, surely they'd twig on that gardening is important, even if they didn't have time for it themselves. But during my appointment with my new OT (fourth one!) and social services representative, the question that came up was "How can you possibly garden as ill as you are?" (read - ' as you claim'?) They quite literally didn't think I could possibly be as badly off as I was if I was able to do all the garden work, and end result? No care plan.
The truth of the matter is I have to force myself to get out there - I had to force myself to mow the lawn, force myself to water, force myself to weed. Toward September time, I couldn't do it as I was getting more and more ill, but up till then I did. It was discipline, and it got me moving. It wasn't always something I wanted to do - who loves weeding?! - but I had to, and therefore it helped me get off my butt every day and do something. Since "getting around and moving" is considered important by most of these health professionals, you'd think they'd get that. But they don't; they truly don't get it. It doesn't help that apparently one of the training techniques for spotting benefit fraud is the purchase of garden equipment. Again...HOW is that even considered fraud? I don't get it.
This was again pointed out to me when we discussed housing and they pushed for me moving into council housing. That is a NO. If I wanted council housing in an overcrowded estate I could just stay here with the Asbos and anti-social kids throwing bottles into my minuscule garden. And the gardens would be TINY. Tiny gardens don't work with my son; he needs space to run, and we need space which won't allow for him waking up neighbours on either side with his yelling at 1am. I even said as much - detached bungalow with a garden and space for some chooks. The reaction? They laughed. But then they wanted to know why I don't get housing benefit or income support if I'm so badly off, and my response was "I don't have much but living like I do means I live how I please, not how someone else dictates. And you just laughed at my idea of good living, so point made." Again, possibly not the best response I could have given as I'm trying to get them to help me, but I have a right to live as I please, and I'm not using the ever-bemoaned taxpayers' money to fund it. I work; although the look on the face of the social services rep said she didn't think what I was doing was work as I've yet to generate meaningful income, but I'm only claiming on what I'm entitled to as a working disabled person, caring for someone else who is disabled. I get scrutinised enough on a regular basis, I don't want any more issues from the Jobs office, getting sent off to work I cannot possibly do.
I was a bit discouraged and actually even considered wavering a bit on it; I looked up some council housing and was, obviously, less than impressed. In addition, I remembered what I had read earlier last year about Wiltshire Council having a terrible rating re: council housing. And then, of course, there's the new legislation which may require you to move out after two years anyway, whether you have any money or not. Why would I intentionally do any of this? It's like standing in traffic waiting to be hit by a bus.
So if the option is to move into some cookie cutter ramshackle piece of property no better than what I'm currently living in, I'm not all that interested, especially if there's no garden whatsoever and it comes with such a heavy price. It might save a bunch of money for me to sell my soul that heavily but I'm well aware how much it would cost me in the long run, and I'm unwilling to do so.
I'm not sure I can convince the OT or SS any of this, but I'll stick to my principles regardless. It may mean I refuse the DFG if they are going to insist in moving me into somewhere I can't stand, but then I'll just have to try and save up to move throughout the year, and it gives me another year with this garden. No bad thing; I can deal with the house falling apart for a little while longer if the payoff is my garden space.

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