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

Anti-oppressive social work: a guide for developing cultural competence

S. Laird

London: Sage, 2008

The book aims to improve social work training and practice by arguing that a thorough understanding of people's values, social norms and family arrangements are crucial to achieving culturally sensitive practice. The book moves beyond traditional conceptions of anti-oppressive and anti-racist practice by exploring the cultural heritages of some of the main ethnic minorities living in the United Kingdom, and by identifying the many forms that racism can take. The book includes:

  • an introduction to the context and history of ethnic minorities living in Britain
  • a discussion of the nature of racism
  • Individual chapters on: communities with roots in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Caribbean, and China
  • separate chapter on economic migrants, refugees and asylum seekers
  • a range of practice examples which encourage students and practitioners to identify general principles which underpin cultural competence.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection's Quality Rating Review Service: fair or foul?

S. Marchant

Journal of Care Services Management, vol. 3, no.1, 2008, p. 20-31

There are serious concerns among care service providers about the ability of the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) to quality rate them fairly and consistently. In response, CSCI has introduced the Quality Rating Review Service (QRRS) as part of its quality assurance strategy. This paper considers whether this system can work effectively by critically assessing its procedural limitations and its lack of independence. It concludes that providers should be entitled to appeal unfair quality ratings to the Care Standards Tribunal.

Cutting the cake fairly

Commission for Social Care Inspection


This report brands the current adult social care eligibility criteria as flawed and calls for their replacement. It makes major criticisms of the current Fair Access to Care (FACS) guidance, which it says has been widely misinterpreted by councils. For example, they have equated low level need with simple services, which has meant that councils with high eligibility thresholds have failed to commission lower level services. CSCI's proposed eligibility system would allocate support at three different levels of need: immediate interventions for people in crisis; early intervention if problems threatening a person's well-being are likely to develop within six months; and longer term intervention if problems are likely to develop within a year. People who do not meet the eligibility criteria should be given advice about help available outside of public services.

Do we have the means?

A. Mickel

Community Care, Oct. 16th 2008, p. 28-29

This article sets out a range of options put forward by experts in the field on what types of social care the state should provide and how it should be funded. One option would be for the state to set a minimum standard of care for certain support needs, with payments dependent on recipients' financial means. At the other extreme, the state could decide only to fund care for those most in need.

Evaluating outcomes in health and social care

H. Dickinson

Bristol: Policy Press, 2008

Partnerships continue to be a prominent feature of health and social care policy and one which seems set to stay. Despite this, partnerships have not actually been demonstrated to improve service user outcomes. This book argues that this is a result of the massive challenge faced by partnership evaluations and suggests we need to effectively evaluate the outcomes of partnerships - or else the concept risks losing legitimacy. The book provides an introduction to evaluation, outcomes and partnerships, summarising recent trends in policy and research, setting out useful frameworks and approaches and aiding policy makers and practitioners to more effectively evaluate partnerships.

Feeding back? Learning from complaints handling in health and social care

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers, session 2007/08: HC 853)

There are currently two separate statutory processes for handling complaints about health and social care services: NHS organisations are accountable to the Department of Health and social care services are accountable through their local authority. There are differences in the numbers of stages and timescales involved and in the arrangements for advocacy support and independent investigation. The Health Service Ombudsman is responsible for ultimate review and decision on NHS complaints and the Local Government Ombudsman for social care complaints. The report provides an evaluation of existing performance, capability, capacity, and costs of complaints handling in both health and adult social care. Its findings include:

  • Where people are dissatisfied, there is a low number who make formal complaints.
  • Navigating the complaints systems is not straightforward, particularly for health service users.
  • Only a small proportion of NHS complainants are aware of, or receive national advocacy support.
  • The culture and attitudes of the organisations are often a barrier to responsive complaint handling.
  • Neither health nor social care organisations know the cost of complaints handling.
  • Pursuing a complaint requires considerable time, determination and resilience.

Recognising the failings in the existing complaints systems, in 2006 the Department of Health announced it would introduce a single complaints system across health and social care in England by 2009. Until now, there has, however, been no detailed evaluation of the effectiveness of the existing systems. The NAO report identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the current arrangements and the issues that need to be addressed if the Department's ambition for a single comprehensive NHS and social care complaints system is to be realized.

Four messages of support

J. Bolton

Community Care, Oct. 16th 2008, p. 30

Putting People First, the concordat between government and the care sector for the transformation of adult social care, sets out the conditions needed for personalisation to flourish. It highlights four key components: access to universal services, early intervention, self-directed support and supporting people to be part of the community. World-class commissioning by local authorities is key to delivering the personalisation agenda

A glass of wine and a slice of cheesecake

J. Powell

Learning Disability Today, Oct. 2008, p. 30-31

A service user argues that person centred planning should be carried out by independent agencies working on behalf of users and their funding authorities. It should exclude service providers who cannot be impartial and have vested interests in outcomes.

How social care can beat the crunch

G. Ettridge

Community Care, Oct. 22nd 2008, p. 16-17

The rescued banking sector, in return for the huge investment of public money it has received, will be required to start making competitive loans to small businesses, including social care providers. This would encourage the creation of a market for social care which would support the personalisation agenda. High street traders, in return for bank loans, could also contribute to the creation of choices for service users.

Islam and social work: debating values, transforming practice

S. Ashencaen Crabtree, F. Husain and B. Spalek

Bristol: Policy Press, 2008

Traditionally, equality and diversity issues have been addressed through the lens of race/ethnicity, and the faith identities of minority ethnic communities have been largely bypassed. But, particularly post 9/11; there is a need for policies and services that are sensitive to faith in general and Islam in particular. The book encourages greater cultural competence and enables social work practitioners to gain a deeper understanding of how Islamic principles inform and influence the lives of Muslim populations and illustrates how this can be translated into professional practice. The book:

  • describes the basic tenets of Islam and the daily practices and rituals of the faithful Muslim community
  • contextualises the historical legacy of Islam, examining the disparity between universal Islamic precepts and traditional practices
  • focuses specifically on family welfare, health, Islamophobia and crime as primary issues for practice.
  • includes case studies which help the reader explore and develop ideas for culturally congruent social work practice.

Managing and leading in inter-agency settings

E. Peck and H. Dickinson

Bristol: Policy Press, 2008

Leadership and management are increasingly considered important drivers in terms of organisational performance. Yet, despite being viewed as essential components of partnership working, there is relatively little thoughtful work analysing the relationship between the two sets of ideas - posing practical difficulties for leaders and managers of partnerships who are looking for evidence or guidance. This book provides a guide to the main characteristics and expectations of leadership and management in partnerships. It summarises recent trends in policy, establishes what can be learnt from research and practice and sets out useful frameworks and approaches to address a range of problems that partnerships face.

Out in the cold

B. Hudson

Learning Disability Today, Oct. 2008, p. 20-21

There is considerable dissatisfaction with the Fair Access to Care Services (FACS) eligibility criteria. Cash strapped councils are limiting access to social care to those classed under the FACS guidance as having critical or substantial needs. The author calls for a new approach to give those with mild or moderate needs access to the support they need to live independently. He supports the creation of an outcomes-based framework, rather than one which centres on professional judgements of need and risk and emphasizes the need to ensure that any new eligibility criteria are consistent with the personalisation agenda. However, improvements will require considerable increases in funding.

Partnership working in health and social care

J. Glasby and H. Dickinson

Bristol: Policy Press, 2008

UK health and social care are increasingly being asked to work together across traditional agency boundaries. Although this sounds easy in theory, doing it in practice is difficult and complicated. In many cases, moreover, current training programmes, research and textbooks are even more divided than front-line services, and practitioners and managers are often being tasked with making partnerships work without the necessary support. Against this background, this book provides a 'warts and all' introduction to partnership working, summarising current policy and research, setting out useful frameworks and approaches, and helping policy makers and practitioners to work more effectively together.

Social work: making a difference

V. Cree and S Myers

Bristol: Policy Press, 2008

Social work in the UK has recently undergone its biggest change for 30 years. As new regulatory bodies are working to consolidate social work's professional status, a new training programme, now at degree level, expects increased in-practice learning. This book addresses the new agenda and explores what social work is in the 21st Century. Structured around the framework of the National Occupational Standards for social work - and using terminology and concepts contained within them - the book examines how social work can make a difference in the lives of individuals, families and communities and argues that to really make a difference it is necessary to think outside the box.

Social work and multi-agency working: making a difference

K. Morris (editor)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2008

Multi-agency working is a dominant characteristic of emerging policy and practice across the range of social care settings. While this challenging activity places considerable demands at both practice and policy levels, when done well, service users agree it offers enhanced service provision. When delivered ineffectively, it can be frustrating and disempowering. This introductory text explores the challenges and opportunities for social work education and practice within the context of multi-agency working. It brings together leading experts from across a range of disciplines, including criminology, mental health, child protection, drugs and alcohol, and education, to give the reader insights into different social care settings. The book includes perspectives of those using services as well as describing the relevant legal and policy context and offering an overview of key research findings.

Star ratings: threat or opportunity?

F. Ursell

Journal of Care Services Management, vol.3, no.1, 2008, p. 6-19

This paper explains how the Commission for Social Care Inspection awards a quality rating or star rating to any residential home, nursing home or domiciliary care provider. It goes on to outline how a provider can appeal against a star rating and to explore the business consequences of a low rating and how to address them.

Taking responsibility for human rights: a gap in the law?

L. James

Journal of Care Services Management, vol.3, no.1, 2008, p. 83-95

The issue of whether the Human Rights Act 1998 applies to private care providers has been contentious. To date, the Courts have adopted a narrow interpretation of the term 'public authority' meaning that private providers remain outside the Act. Consequently, there has been a perception of a 'gap' in the protection of the human rights of vulnerable people who receive care from private providers. In order to bridge this gap, amending legislation and potentially a bill of rights have been mooted. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 will, when brought into force, extend the Human Rights Act to cover publicly-funded residents in private care homes.

United front

A. Taylor

Community Care, Oct. 16th 2008, p. 16-17

The need for multi-agency working is emphasised in much social care policy but is very hard to achieve in practice. This article explores some of the practical barriers to joint working and emphasises the need to build trust as the first step.

When the client knows best

R. Davis

Community Care, Oct. 30th 2008, p. 30

Report of an interview with academic Simon Griffiths in which he discusses his research showing a sharp decline in public deference to professionals and discusses the implications for social services. The drive towards personalised services and individual budgets in social care can be seen as a reaction to the death of deference. The role of social workers may change to that of advising users on commissioning services that suit them.

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