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Welfare Reform on the Web (November 2009): Social care - UK

Critical practice in social work. 2nd ed.

R. Adams, L. Dominelli and M. Payne (editors)

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009

The book combines theory, values and practice of social work and looks in depth at a spectrum of professional situations. Focusing on social work values, on areas of particular practice (ranging across work with children, families and vulnerable adults) and on management issues relevant to all social workers whether they are managers or not, it offers an overview both of the practicalities of social work and the principles underpinning practice.

Has social care performance in England improved? An analysis of performance ratings across social services organisations

P. Clarkson and others

Policy Studies, vol. 30, 2009, p. 403-422

Performance measurement in the English public sector comprises centralised targets, public reporting of data, and the use of rewards and penalties to regulate behaviour. The regime has been imposed by central government. This article examines whether its operation has resulted in improved performance by social care organisations in England. Social care organisations have broadly improved their performance over time in star ratings league tables and with generally higher ratings across individual indicators, with noteworthy improvement across key threshold indicators (measures on which councils must perform well to get a good summary report). This improvement contrasts with a fairly static picture in Northern Ireland. However, these improvements may reflect a host of factors other than the incentives created by centralised targets.

How to succeed in the care business without really caring

B. Ferguson

Caring Times, Oct. 2009, p. 16

Argues that care home owners regularly play the system and manipulate inspectors in pursuit of higher ratings. The former Commission for Social Care Inspection hailed higher ratings across the sector as a reflection of improved care standards. However, the upturn may only be a sign of the success of care home owners in bamboozling inspectors.

Management and organisations in social work. 2nd ed.

T. Hafford-Letchfield

Exeter: Learning Matters, 2009

The book focuses on the structure and culture of social care organisations and examines their relationship with crucial partners such as local and central government agencies. Recent changes have made it critical for practitioners to have a thorough understanding of organisational structures and their impact on service users and their own practice. Through an examination of current research and practice, the book highlights the role of ideology, professional and personal values, judgements and decision making in organisational structure and culture. Importantly, it looks at the changes in the Performance Management System, features an expanded section on advocacy and includes a new section on direct payments and how care managers use them to support service users.

Modernising social work: critical considerations

J. Harris and V. White (editors)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2009

New Labour's modernisation agenda has produced an avalanche of change that has posed challenges for everyone involved in social work, whether as service users, practitioners or managers. The book provides a radical appraisal of the far-reaching changes in their theoretical, historical and policy contexts. The book is organised into three sections that consider: the inter-relationship of modernisation and managerialism, modernisation's impact on service users and the ways in which social workers and front-line managers seek to exercise professional discretion for the benefit of service users, within a workplace culture of intensified scrutiny and control. Analysis of a range of key developments in all three areas reveals the modernisation agenda as complex and contested.

Responding to global shifts in social work through the language of service user and service user involvement

K. Hefferman

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 18, 2009, p. 375-384

This article seeks to contribute to understanding of 'service user' initiatives, particularly with respect to service user role identity and service user involvement, since these key New Public Management concepts appear to dominate current New Labour social policy. The study came about through collaboration with service users who were members of the stakeholder group at a British university social work department. It explores the terminology often used to label or categorise persons who use health and social care services and gives insight into the meaning of these terms for the participants of the study as well as offering a better understanding of their perspective on service user involvement. The views expressed in this study come from persons often categorised as service users by health and social care providers and academics, but who do not necessarily belong to self-organised advocacy groups or self-identify as service users.

Should I pray or should I go?

M. Ahmed

Community Care, Oct. 1st 2009, p. 16-17

Christian social workers are increasingly coming into conflict with their employers for allowing their beliefs to influence their professional conduct. For example, they may offer to pray with clients, or oppose the placing of children with gay foster parents. While it is agreed that social workers should encourage clients to express their own spirituality, the role of their own religious beliefs in the workplace is open to debate.

Trading places

C. Kenny

Community Care, Oct. 1st 2009, p. 24-25

It is expected that many people with individual budgets for social care will choose to spend them with private providers. Councils therefore face a dilemma about the fate of their own provider services. They face the prospect of either putting their provider services out to tender or cutting them back. This article presents a third alternative: setting up a local authority owned trading company to provide social care services. It offers a case study of the first such trading company, set up by Essex Council.

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