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Welfare Reform on the Web (September 2008): Social care - UK

Back to the future

D. Callaghan Community Care, July 24th 2008, p. 14-15 Since 2003 children's and adults' social services departments have been led by their own separate directors. Children's social services have been integrated with education, while many adults' services directors are now responsible for housing and neighbourhood renewal. Some local authorities are now placing all of these services under a single director in order to offer more rounded support to all members of families in difficulties.

Better off at the frontline

A. Gulland Community Care, July 17th 2008, p. 14-15 Hackney has radically redesigned its children's services and abolished social work teams presided over by a team manager. Social workers are now organised in units, comprising a consultant social worker, a qualified social worker, a children's practitioner, a family therapist and a unit co-ordinator who provides administrative back-up. Consultant social workers are able to gain management experience while continuing to work directly with families.

Compassion: more than just chemistry?

A. Mickel

Community Care, July 31st 2008, p. 14-15

Compassionate care makes an enormous difference to service users' lives. However, there is no agreement on exactly what compassion means in the context of social care, making it difficult to measure. However, the personalisation agenda in social care could help, as providers will have more scope to work with and empathise with users.

Everything must go? The privatization of state social work

M. Carey

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 38, 2008, p. 918-935

Over the past two decades, state social work in the UK has experienced a series of radical reforms. At the heart of the reform is the ongoing privatisation of state social work, thanks to which key sectors of social care are now dominated by business interests, many of which seek to gain profits. A cultural change has also taken place which has led to the acceptance by social workers of contracting out of services, standardisation of practice, performance measurement and audit, and greater accountability and regulation. It is argued that many of the promised benefits of privatisation have failed to materialise, including that it would create a more efficient and effective structure for the delivery of social care. On the contrary, in most sectors privatisation has led to poorer working conditions for staff and worse services for clients. Moreover the status of the social work profession has suffered significantly.

Individual budgets and transformational change

V. Jackson

Journal of Care Services Management, vol. 2, 2008, p.322-333

Individual budgets enable people eligible for state-funded social care to design their own support. A resource allocation system gives individuals a clear cash or notional budget for them to spend on care with support from a service broker if desired. Oldham Council was chosen to become one of 13 pilot sites leading the implementation of individual budgets. This paper outlines the challenges it faced and lessons learned.

Involving people in the design and delivery of services

R. Kramer and J. Stafford

Journal of Care Services Management, vol. 2, 2008, p. 368-377

Turning Point's Centre of Excellence has developed a unique model of community engagement in the design of health and social care services called Connected Care. The model aims to help commissioners achieve a better understanding of the needs of communities to inform their service provision. Connected Care aims to integrate health, housing and social care provision in the most deprived communities, with the community playing a central role in service design and delivery.

Protection at a price

M. Hunter

Community Care, Aug. 17th 2008, p. 14-15

Local authorities have the difficult task of balancing how far they should go to protect vulnerable adults within the community without infringing their rights to live independently and make their own decisions. Their duty of care has been redefined by a judgment in favour of a vulnerable family, known to social services, who had been abused by a gang of youths in Hounslow. In a recent High Court Ruling, the judge ordered the council to pay compensation to the family for failing to re-house them. The judge took the view that the council is a single corporate body and that the duty of care lies not with a specific department but across the authority as a whole. The social services and housing departments should have realised that the family was in imminent physical danger and acted together to re-house them.

Rewriting history

L. Jamieson and T. Spencer-Lane

Community Care, July 17th 2008, p. 26-27

The legal framework for adult social care is inadequate, incomprehensible and outdated. It is a confusing patchwork of often conflicting statutes enacted over 60 years. There is a need for a single modern statute to which service users, carers and staff can look to understand whether services can or should be provided, and, if so, what kinds of services. The Law Commission has announced a review of adult social care law, with the aim of providing a coherent legal structure for social care services.

Running on empty

S. Gillen

Community Care, July 10th 2008, p. 14-15

Soaring petrol prices are leaving some social care staff out of pocket as car allowances paid by employers no longer cover costs. This article looks at whether public transport is a viable alternative to the car and the impact on service provision.

Social care experiencing 'its most important year'

M. Samuel

Community Care, July 31st 2008, p. 4-5

Report of an interview with care services minister Ivan Lewis. Government has recognised that adult social care poses one of its biggest policy challenges, given the increasing number of older and disabled people. By 2011, the Department of Health wants all publicly-funded social care users to have personal budgets; all councils to have high quality information and advice services; and there to be a shift from crisis intervention to preventative services. However, councils may lose their commissioning role if they fail to deliver these changes by 2011. There is also concern about the current postcode lottery around access to care, and government may introduce a national entitlement to a certain level of care regardless of where people live. Another key debate is how the future costs of care will be met, with government hinting that taxpayers will be unwilling to contribute more.

Training together to work together

H. Dickinson and J. Glasby

Community Care, July 17th 2008, p. 30-31

This article focuses on the role of inter-professional education and training (IPE) in promoting partnership working between health and social care staff. It outlines the rationales behind IPE programmes and points out that there are few studies empirically demonstrating their effectiveness.

We are not all the same

T. Cantle

Community Care, July 3rd 2008, p. 14-16

Social services need to recognise the diversity within ethnic and faith communities if they are to engage with them effectively. Diversity within what appear to be homogeneous groups becomes clear once the surface is scratched. Yet engagement is often limited to small, often unrepresentative groups of community leaders. Social services are also overlooking the diverse needs of white working class communities, which are often stigmatised as being ignorant, xenophobic and racist.

Weighing the evidence: a case for using vignettes to elicit public and practitioner views on the workings of the POVA vetting and barring scheme

J. Rapaport and others

Journal of Adult Protection, vol.10, May 2008, p. 6-17

This article describes research exploring the steps involved in recommending to the Secretary of State for Health that a care worker's name should be placed on the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) List, which records individuals barred from working with vulnerable adults in England and Wales. It focuses on preliminary work in which discussion groups were held with a purposive sample of older people, managers and staff, using a vignette approach to explore their perspectives.

Why should they be abused anymore than children? Child abuse protection and the implementation of No Secrets

R. Filinson and others

Journal of Adult Protection, vol. 10, May 2008, p. 18-28

The parallels between child abuse and adult abuse have been frequently noted as public awareness of both has increased in recent decades. Both can involve concealed victimisation of a weaker family member, for both interventions are difficult to implement because practitioners are loath to intrude on family life and risk causing harm, and combating abuse of either type requires multi-agency working. Significant differences between adult and child abuse have also been stressed, particularly that adults are not always dependents reliant for care on the persons mistreating them and have the autonomy to resist efforts to intervene on their behalf.

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