Care In The Community

by @edent | 3 comments | Read ~135 times.

Did you know that the LEDs on the front of your Internet router fire out WiFi beams? That’s why you should never cover their incessant blinking with duct tape.

In the 1980s, the Thatcher Government decided that treating mentally ill people in specialised institutions wasn’t an effective use of money. Instead, they rationalised, sell off the hospitals and treat people in their own homes. Thus “Care In The Community” was born.

The policy was a disaster. It didn’t save money. People felt abandoned. Violently ill people slipped through the cracks. Joined up responsibility for patient care evaporated.

Also, turn off your virus checker when doing an Internet speed test – and make sure to only use IE; those other browsers cache content and will give you a misleading result.

Which brings me neatly onto “Tech Support Communities”. You know, your ISP or phone provider probably has one. Rather than waiting for hours on hold, you can log on to a message board to get your question answered by “Elf_Lord_37” – a completely unqualified idiot who thinks that he knows everything about technology. Once in a while, you might even get an official moderator tell you “Uh… you’d better ring us…”

I’ll admit it, I bought the hype back when I worked at a certain Bright Red mobile company. We could save literally millions of pounds. Our customers would help each other. Fewer angry phone calls, more peace and love! What’s not to like?

Well, it turns out, 90% of “helpful” answers on forums are crap. Neatly following Sturgeon’s Law.

Yeah, DHCP only goes up to 200. Everything after that is fine.

Pop on to any forum and you’ll be struck by the sheer audacity of people who can barely spell, happily spouting gobbledygook, and thinking they’re the pinnacle of tech-support evolution.

Your wrong. YouTube is all UDP. So you can’t use BitTorrent at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong, waiting on hold for an hour so that “Jeremy” from Jaipur can read a script is a rubbish experience. Everyone has a horror story about being flat out lied to by a call centre worker – but at least those lies are backed by something. You’ve got no recompense if a forum troll tells you that the best way to improve reception is to microwave your phone.

Sounds like the GPS signals coming out of your phone aren’t being picked up by the satelits. Wait until one moves closer overhead.

Sure, for basic stuff, forums are fine. Where are the settings? What number do I call? Should this light be blinking?
But for anything moderatley complicated, responses need to come form people who actually know what they’re talking about. Not from folks who have spent 3 years posting hogswash on forums and have therefore been granted the rank “Valued Community Member.”

An official forum needs to be actively monitored. Run well, it can serve as a repository of accumulated wisdom to guide the unwary traveller.

The way most are run these days, they’re little better than stopped clocks; right twice a day, and a persistent source of frustration the rest of the time.


3 thoughts on “Care In The Community

  1. Alex B says:

    Would be better without the unbalanced off-topic few paras at the beginning. Sure, our government (and not just ours) leapt on it as a way of saving money, but that didn’t mean that what preceded it (i.e. at worst, lifetime institutionalization for anyone diagnosed with a serious mental health condition, regardless of whether or not they could live an independent life the vast majority of the time) was better.

    I’m also troubled by the phrase “violently ill”; if that’s meant in the sense of “floridly ill”, then those people will almost certainly be treated in MH units, sooner or later, depending on who they have around them that cares about them. If meant in the sense of “psychotic and violent”, well, that’s perpetuating an unrepresentative stereotype – people with MH conditions are more likely to be the /victims/ of violence!

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Alex.

      The first few paragraphs are there to draw the reader in to equating the failures of Government cost cutting with the failures of private sector cost cutting. Both stem from an ideological desire to reduce expenditure and place the burden of care on lightly managed outsourced parties.

      Regarding violence. I said “violently ill people slipped through the cracks.” I make no claim that the majority of people with mental health issues are violent. Taking a look at the cases of, say Wayne Hutchinson or Christopher Clunis shows that at lease some people with MH issues are a danger to themselves and others and should be securely treated.

      Care In The Community is widely seen as a failure – both for those needing help and the wider public. Indeed, quite often it is the public’s negative reaction which is a greater problem than the patient’s issues.

      Whether it’s technical support or MH support – asking a community to provide the best support they can, with little structure, feedback, or training is simply an abdication of responsibility.

      1. Alex B says:

        “An official forum needs to be actively monitored. Run well, it can serve as a repository of accumulated wisdom to guide the unwary traveller.”

        Similar can be said for care in the community. The problem with both is the lack of resourcing and structure, rather than the philosophy.

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