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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2010): Social care - UK

Can the easyCouncil swing it in Barnet?

N. Golding

Community Care, Apr. 22nd 2010, p. 14-15

Conservative Barnet Council is developing a model for public services delivery based on budget airlines. It aims to provide only basic services to those paying the minimum, and will charge extra for a higher level of provision. The approach has already led to grants to many care organisations being cut.

Care providers fear immigration plans

V. Pitt

Community Care, May 6th 2010, p. 13

Plans from the three main political parties for immigration controls could restrict recruitment to adult social care and damage the quality of services. Providers are increasingly reliant on migrant labour to deliver services because they cannot attract UK-born staff at current pay rates.

Developing world class commissioning competencies in care services in England: the role of the service improvement agency

M. Cornes and others

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol.18, 2010, p. 249-256

This article provides an insight into the needs of health and social care commissioners seeking to develop world class commissioning competencies and the role of service improvement agencies in meeting those needs. Reporting findings from the evaluation of one service improvement agency based in England, the article focuses on the improvement supports that were delivered by the Care Services Improvement Partnership through its Better Commissioning Programme. It is concluded that, given the lack of employer-led training, service improvement agencies play an important role in developing commissioners' skills and competencies.

Election 2010 and adult social care: policies and prospects

R. Humphries

Journal of Integrated Care, vol.18, Apr. 2010, p. 12-16

Social care is expected to be a key campaign issue at the 2010 UK general election. An overview of the current policies of the major political parties suggests a consensus in many areas, notably personalisation, the role of the Third Sector, reducing bureaucracy and closer integration of health and social care. Differences may be sharper in policy detail, and how future funding should be reformed. Irrespective of who wins the election, the forthcoming spending squeeze will focus attention on how to achieve more with fewer resources.

Health and efficiency

N. Valios

Community Care, Apr. 8th 2010, p. 14-15

Under the Social Work Reform Programme, employers in England are being asked to carry out health checks of their social work departments by the end of 2010/11, to assess whether practitioners are receiving the support they need to deliver high-quality services.

Many happy returns?

M. Samuel

Community Care, Apr. 8th 2010, p. 24-25

This article evaluates the Care Quality Commission's turbulent first year of operation. Staff first of all faced the challenge of creating a new organisation from the merger of the Healthcare Commission, the Mental Health Act Commission, and the Commission for Social Care Inspection. They also had to maintain the monitoring and evaluation roles of the three predecessor bodies and implement a new registration system for English health and social care providers.

No time to hang around

Community Care, May 13th 2010, p. 14-15

The hung Parliament should not be used as an excuse to avoid tackling social care's most urgent problems. Experts in the field offer their views on what the new government should prioritise in workforce development, adult care and children's services.

Social care

Health Committee

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10: HC 22)

Projected changes in demographics, availability of support from carers, unit costs of care and other factors indicate that social care in its current form will struggle to meet people's needs. However, longer life need not mean more time spent in ill health. Improving public health and developing interventions for long-term conditions could pay major dividends. The old-age 'support ratio' (the relative numbers of working-age and older people) is not the most important factor in the likely future affordability of social care. Our society must not underestimate its ability to become more productive and wealthier, nor the contribution that older people will make to that. Social care reform has two interrelated strands: the first is concerned with how care and support are funded and the second with how they are commissioned and provided. When the Government took office in 1997, it stated that the first of these was one of its major priorities. Yet it took until 2009 for the Government to set out a range of options for fundamental reform, in the Green Paper Shaping the Future of Care Together. On reforming how care and support are commissioned and provided, the Government has initiated a radical programme of 'transformation'. The Committee welcomes the focus on personalisation, although there is still a long way to go in realising it. The Green Paper sets out the Government's vision for a National Care Service, embodying both strands of reform. The Committee strongly endorses the major elements of this vision which have attracted practically universal consensus:

  • a focus on prevention
  • a 'portable' national assessment
  • a more joined up service
  • easy access to information and advice
  • personalised care and support
  • a more universal funding system
  • more support for carers
  • building a sound evidence base on different forms of care and support.

Solutions in supervision

M. Hunter

Community Care, Apr. 15th 2010, p. 14-15

The Social Work Task Force confirmed that many social workers are missing out on high quality supervision. However, numerous examples of good practice are to be found across the UK. This article presents case studies of three creative approaches.

Support workers in social care in England: a scoping study

J. Manthorpe and others

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol. 18, 2010, p. 316-324

This paper reports the findings of a scoping study designed to describe the evidence base with regard to support workers in social care in the UK and to identify gaps in knowledge. The results reveal that the support worker role, though not well-defined, could be characterised as one aimed at fostering independence among service users, undertaking tasks across health and social care, and not being trained in a specific profession. The review concluded that the research base lacks longitudinal studies, there is definitional confusion, and there is limited evidence about employment terms and conditions for support workers or about their accountability and performance. The desirability and value of training, and how it is resourced, need further analysis.

The year of living frugally

J. Dunning

Community Care, Apr. 22nd 2010, p. 22-23

In an interview, Richard Jones, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, predicts that upcoming severe budget cuts will force providers to deliver social care differently, to work in close partnership with housing and health, and to deliver care more cheaply in the community.

The social workers' workload survey: messages from the frontline

M. Baginsky and others

Social Work Taskforce, 2010

This comprehensive research examined workloads, supervision and other factors impacting on frontline social work practitioners in the voluntary, statutory and independent sectors. The workload survey revealed that almost half of respondents worked more than their contracted hours. Direct contact with clients accounted for 26% of their time; case-related recording accounted for 22%; and case-related work with other professionals and in the social workers' own agencies took up a further 25% of time. There were widespread complaints that recording systems provided by employers were not fit for purpose and about inadequate supervision. The survey also showed huge differences among social workers in relation to the number of cases held. Most respondents had fewer than 20 active cases, but 7% had more than 30 and 26% had fewer than 10.

Violence against social workers

K. McGregor and D. Lombard

Community Care, May 6th 2010, p. 6-7

An investigation by Community Care has revealed huge disparities in the number of attacks on social workers recorded by councils. This probably reflects under-reporting in some local authorities and there are calls for the development of a national system of incident reporting. The NHS has introduced a series of national measures to tackle violence against staff which have led to a steady decline in incidents. There is disagreement over whether such a national approach could benefit the social care sector.

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