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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2011): Social care - UK

Big registration delays frustrate care providers

V. Pitt

Community Care, Feb. 17th 2011, p. 6-7

Vulnerable people are waiting months for care services due to long delays in the Care Quality Commission's processing of registration applications from providers. Applicants can wait up to six months for services to be registered and delays of up to four months are commonplace. The Commission has apologised for the delays, which it blames on the high volume of applications.

Council cutters face legal battles

G. Carson

Community Care, Feb. 24th 2011, p. 10

The social care workforce and service users are considering legal challenges to the cuts imposed by councils. Human rights law, equality legislation, and case law on consultation can all be used to challenge councils' decisions.

Councils' care merger could be copied

M. Samuel

Community Care, Feb. 17th 2011, p. 10

Conservative-run Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster borough councils plan to save money by appointing joint directors of children's and adults' services by 2012, and merging fostering and adoption, and youth offending services, as well as their local safeguarding children boards. The number of senior and middle managers in children's and adults' services will be halved, as will spending on overheads such as human resources. However, the savings are relatively small and will not prevent cuts to frontline services.

Diverse Britain

Community Care, Mar. 3rd 2011, p. 16-33

This themed section on social work practice in multicultural Britain includes articles on trans-racial adoption, forced marriages of learning disabled people, delivery of mental health services to Muslims, respect for diversity while challenging oppression and marginalisation, and engaging with multi-ethnic communities.

Enabling excellence: autonomy and accountability for healthcare workers, social workers and social care workers

Department of Health

London: TSO, 2011 (Cm 8008)

Thirty different health professions are currently regulated in law on a UK-wide basis by nine regulatory bodies, and regulation of pharmacy technicians will also become mandatory from July 2011. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 initiated a series of reforms to the governance of the health profession regulatory bodies, ending professional control over their governing councils and strengthening the contribution of lay members. Delivering safe and effective care will continue to be the driving principle behind professional regulation. Further, in the context of "any willing provider" being able to provide services to the NHS in England, the role of professional regulation, providing a set of standards which apply to all aspects of a health or social care professional's work, will become all the more important in future, in most sectors of care. However, the regulatory framework is also complex, expensive and requires continuous Government intervention to keep it up to date. This Command Paper therefore sets out proposals for how the system for regulating healthcare workers across the UK and social workers in England should be reformed to sustain and develop the high professional standards of those practitioners and to continue to assure the safety of those using services and the rest of the public. The reforms aim to deliver greater operational freedom to the regulators, balanced by strengthened accountability to both Parliament and the public.

Joined up rationing? An analysis of priority setting in health and social care commissioning

I. Williams, H. Dickinson and S. Robinson

Journal of Integrated Care, vol. 19, Feb. 2011, p. 3-11

Joint commissioning has emerged as an important function in the pursuit of high quality health and social care. An essential component of any commissioning process is priority setting, and this paper begins to explore the idea of integrated priority-setting as a key element in health and social care commissioning. It identifies a number of significant barriers to joint priority setting in the areas of financing, accessibility, evidence and politics. While these barriers are not insurmountable, the solution lies in engagement with a range of stakeholders, rather than simply a technical process.

Making consultations on cuts more than tokenism

V. Pitt

Community Care, Feb. 17th 2011, p. 22-23

Since the comprehensive spending review of October 2010, many councils have sought to cut the level of social care they offer and increase income from users through charges. There is a feeling that councils have already taken decisions and are consulting only as a matter of form. However, councils risk legal action by user groups if they fail to consult properly on their plans.

New gold standard for care homes to be created

A. Ralph

The Times, Feb. 28th 2011, p. 3/p>

The latest government plans are that care homes are to be assessed by new 'excellence tests'. Only those care homes that meet the new standard will receive funding from local councils.

One in five providers expects to close as sector reels from cuts

V. Pitt

Community Care, Feb. 17th 2011, p. 4-5

A survey of 238 social care providers has shown that:

  1. two-thirds had their fees cut by councils in 2010/11 and 81% expect a cut in 2011/12
  2. a third of respondents had already cut jobs and most anticipated redundancies in 2011/12
  3. one in five providers expected to close in 2011/12 as a result of reductions in fees.

Putting policy into effect: the government's legislative programme

J. Dow

Journal of Integrated Care, vol. 19, Feb. 2011, p. 12-15

The Coalition Government has promised a new Health Bill and a Social Care Reform Bill. On the basis of policy statements, the author discusses the impact of possible legislative changes on the role of social services and the integration of health and social care.

Sustainable social services for Wales: a framework for action

Welsh Assembly Government

2011

These radical plans will in effect create a national care service for Wales, with the aim of eliminating duplication and waste. Funding for social care will be provided through a new Welsh Social Services and Social Care Improvement Fund, and current social work targets and performance indicators will be replaced by a national outcomes framework. The proposals also reject the English vision of personalisation in social care and any preventive role for social services. It is argued that preventative services for older people should be provided by the community as a whole. Over ten years the plans will create: a national adoption agency, pan-Wales eligibility thresholds for adult social care, regional commissioning arrangements, a national contract for care homes and domiciliary services, developed jointly with the NHS, the commissioning of re-ablement services on a regional basis, a Centre for Excellence for Social Care Research, a national leadership college, mandatory registration of care services managers, and a more robust adult protection framework.

URL: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/health/publications/socialcare/guidance1/services/?lang=en

Too good to be possible?

M. Samuel

Community Care, Feb. 10th 2011, p.26-27

Councils are responding to government spending cuts by raising eligibility thresholds and charges for social care users, and reducing fees for providers. However three providers from different sectors have formed a partnership to offer councils an alternative, which they claim will improve outcomes and save money. The proposal from the partnership of housing repair and domiciliary care provider the Mears Group, telecare body Tunstall and housing adaptations organisation AKW Medicare offers a package of integrated services focused on improved outcomes, with providers to be paid by results.

What's in a college?

S. Gillen

Professional Social Work, Mar. 2011, p. 18-19

Following the British Association of Social Workers' relaunch as BASW-The College of Social Work in January 2011, this article examines three existing professional colleges to see the benefits associated with membership, the services offered to practitioners and how they differ in their approaches to the task.

The wrong kind of placements

G. Carson

Community Care, Feb. 17th 2011, p. 28-29

Local authorities in England delivered 44% of practice placements for trainee social workers in 2008/09, down from 47% in 2007/08. Alternatives are mainly being sourced in charities, where work can involve statutory tasks such as child protection enquiries at NSPCC. However, there are fears that students who have not been placed in local authority statutory settings will not be equipped for frontline practice after graduation.

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