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

Beyond modernisation? Social care and the transformation of welfare governance

J. Newman, C. Glendinning and M. Hughes

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 37, 2008, p. 531-557

This article reflects on the processes and outcomes of modernisation in adult social care in England and Wales, drawing particularly on the Modernising Adult Social Care research programme commissioned by the Department of Health. It focuses on the following challenges:

  • reduction in variations in both the quality of services and the eligibility criteria used by different local authorities
  • promotion of service integration at the point of delivery through joint working
  • user involvement and engagement
  • increasing service user independence, choice and control.

Cutting the cake fairly

Commission for Social Care Inspection


Report warns of a postcode lottery of care in which some elderly and disabled people have to pay for help which others receive free of charge. It calls for an end to the system which allows each council to decide how needy its residents must be before they qualify for free care. It argues that rules on who qualifies for care and how much money they get should be the same across England, and that everyone should be entitled to free advice and guidance.

The emotionally intelligent social worker

D. Howe

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008

Emotions are at the core of health and social care work and this book examines the fundamental part they play in effective and responsive professional practice. The book explains the theory of emotional intelligence - and its vital practical value to practitioners across a range of human services and caring professions. Emotionally intelligent practitioners are not only likely to be more sensitive; they are also more likely to be more resilient. The book begins by considering the origins of our emotions, how they develop across the lifespan, and how they affect us personally and inter-personally. It goes on to discuss the emotional wellbeing of both workers and their clients and examines how this can affect mental and physical health. Drawing on practice issues including emotional disorders and behavioural difficulties in both children and adults, it demonstrates the deep links between emotional intelligence, the professional relationship and skilled practice.

Handbook for practice learning in social work and social care: knowledge and theory. 2nd ed.

J. Lishman (editor)

London: J. Kingsley, 2007

This fully expanded and updated edition of a classic text provides a comprehensive summary of the theory, knowledge, research and evidence relating to practice learning in social care. Focusing on knowledge-based practice and in particular on improving outcomes, the five sections of the book cover:

  1. the reasons and circumstances in which people may become social work service users
  2. a holistic consideration of assessment in general and specific contexts, including risk assessment and management
  3. methods of intervention, including cognitive behavioural social work, task centred practice; advocacy, crisis intervention, family therapy and group care
  4. the legal, policy, research and evidence context in which assessment and intervention occur
  5. reflective and evidence based practice.

Increasing choice and control for older and disabled people: a critical review of new developments in England

C. Glendinning

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 42, 2008, p. 451-469

This paper critically examines policies currently being implemented in England aimed at increasing the choice and control that disabled and older people can exercise over the services they receive. It first summarises the development of these policies, culminating in the publication in 2005 of three key documents. It then explores the role of quasi-markets within publicly-funded social care services, and the political and policy discourses of consumerism and choice within the welfare state. In relation to the latter, the paper argues that, despite some powerful critiques of welfare consumerism, there are nevertheless very important reasons for taking choice seriously when considering how best to deliver social care services. The final section of the paper points out that the realities of exercising choice may be highly problematic.

Model answers

M. Ivory

Community Care, Oct. 9th 2008, p. 26-27

Government has initiated a debate on the future funding of adult social care in the context of population ageing. This article briefly reviews possible options, including universal entitlement to free basic care paid for out of general taxation, self-directed support models, social and private insurance, and equity release schemes.

A new beginning for the end

L. Hunt

Community Care, Oct. 9th 2008, p. 30-31

The Department of Health has launched a new strategy for improving care of the dying. At its core is the aim of giving people more choice over where they die. For this to happen, there needs to be a big change in the way in which professionals approach the subject of death. Dying should be openly discussed with people approaching the end of their lives, so that care packages can be implemented with input of services from social care, palliative care and the NHS to enable people to die in their own homes.

(See also Health Service Journal, Oct. 23rd 2008, p. 16)

Only the lonely .

C. Williams

Community Care, Aug. 28th 2008, p. 14-15

Social workers are increasingly finding themselves working in multidisciplinary teams alongside nurses, teachers, youth workers or police officers. They are having to deal with team members and managers who often have radically different training, expectations and ideals. In some cases social work values can be marginalised by more powerful groups within the team.

Points system recommended for social care needs

J. Carvel

The Guardian, Oct. 23rd 2008, p. 13

The head of the social care inspectorate in England, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, has recommended the adoption of a national points system to ration care for millions of older and disabled people. Dame Denise Platt has criticised the current 'postcode lottery of care', where millions of vulnerable adults miss out on help because local councils deem them to be not incapacitated enough.

Somewhere to practise

C. Williams

Community Care, Sept. 25th 2008, p. 16-17

The degree in social work was introduced in 2003 to wide acclaim. Central to the degree is a strong focus on workplace learning, with students required to spend 200 days in practice placements in either the statutory or the independent sector. This has led to an increased demand for placements and many universities are unable to find enough employers willing to take students on. Practice learning assessors, who support students on placements, are also under stress.

Valuing and supporting carers

Work and Pensions Committee

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers, session 2007/08: HC 485)

On 10 June 2008, the Government published its new ten-year vision for carers, Carers at the Heart of 21st Century Families and Communities. A wide range of commitments were set out, including: the provision of information and advice; breaks provision for carers; improved support from the NHS; and support to help carers better combine work and care. However, this report argues that the current system of benefits for carers is outdated and recommends the introduction of two distinctive 'tiers' of support for them, offering:

  1. income replacement support for carers unable to work, or working only part-time
  2. compensation for the additional costs of caring for all carers in intensive caring roles.

DWP should support adults who become carers during their working lives to combine work and care and enable those who wish to return to paid work when caring ends or changes to do so. It must ensure that in caring for family members, young carers are not disadvantaged in accessing opportunities for education, training and employment and it must mitigate the financial strain on those whose pensions have been affected by their caring roles. A 'joined up' cross-governmental approach is required to ensure that carers are supported in the wider social care system by adequate arrangements to inform them of their rights and entitlements and of how to access an appropriate range of support and services.

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