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

Adult care crossroads

Community Care, June 9th 2011, p. 4-8

This special report covers the scandalous abuse at learning disability hospital Winterbourne View uncovered by BBC Panorama and the threatened financial collapse of care home operator Southern Cross. The Care Quality Commission's inspection regime has been called into question because of its failure to intervene at Winterbourne View. The Southern Cross Healthcare case has highlighted the need for an economic regulator to monitor the finances of large private care services providers.

Adult safeguarding: early messages from peer reviews

R. Humphries

Journal of Adult Protection, vol.13, no.2, 2011, p. 89-99

This paper sets out the main conclusions and learning points from Local Government Improvement and Development's pilot programme of peer reviews of adult safeguarding arrangements carried out in four English councils between November 2009 and May 2010. Key messages from the peer reviews cover: outcomes and experiences of service users; leadership, strategy and commissioning; service delivery, effective practice and performance and resource management; and working together.

Checking the health check

M. Hunter

Community Care, June23rd 2011, p. 28-29

Designed to pave the way for a national standard for employers on how much support they should provide to social workers, the health check first appeared in the Social Work Task Force's final report in 2009. In 39 steps, the check provides a framework for social work employers to assess how well their organisations are set up to manage workloads. The health checks are not mandatory and are only being carried out sporadically, but councils which have implemented them are positive about their benefits.

Cuts lead to 50% rise in social care firms insolvencies

R. Neate

The Guardian, July 4th 2011, p. 21

The government's squeeze on health and social care spending has led to a near 50% increase in company insolvencies in the social care sector and has forced other operators struggling to stay solvent to cut back on investments needed to provide the best care.

Deal agreed to move towards a single College of Social Work


Professional Social Work, June 2011, p. 7

BASW-The College of Social Work and The College of Social Work (TCSW) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing both parties to work towards establishing a single UK-wide College of Social Work. This deal follows a dispute between the two parties that arose in December 2010 over an agreement in principle between TCSW and Unison to work towards the union providing services to college members.

Fairer care funding: the report of the Commission on Funding of Care and Support

Department of Health, 2011

The independent commission, set up by the Government in July 2010, was asked to recommend a fair and sustainable funding system for adult social care in England. Key findings:

  • The current adult social care funding system in England is not fit for purpose and needs urgent and lasting reform.
  • The current system is confusing, unfair and unsustainable. People are unable to plan ahead to meet their future care needs. Assessment processes are complex and opaque. Eligibility varies depending on where you live and there is no portability if you move between local authorities. Provision of information and advice is poor, and services often fail to join up. All this means that in many cases people do not have good experiences.
  • A major problem is that people are unable to protect themselves against very high care costs. The current availability and choice of financial products to support people in meeting care costs is very limited. There is great uncertainty and people are worried about the future.
  • Most people are realistic about the need for individuals to make some contribution to the costs of care in later life, but they want a fairer way of sharing costs and responsibility between the state and individuals and they want to be relieved of fear and worry. There is consensus on the need for reform.

Main recommendations:

  • To protect people from extreme care costs we recommend capping the lifetime contribution to adult social care costs that any individual needs to make at between 25,000 and 50,000.
  • Those who enter adulthood already having a care and support need should immediately be eligible for free state support to meet their care needs, rather than being subjected to a means test.
  • Universal disability benefits for people of all ages should continue as now.
  • People should contribute a standard amount to cover their general living costs, such as food and accommodation, in residential care.
  • Eligibility criteria for service entitlement should be set on a standardised national basis to improve consistency and fairness across England, and there should be portability of assessments.
  • To encourage people to plan ahead for their later life, we recommend that the Government invest in an awareness campaign.
  • The Government should develop a major new information and advice strategy to help when care needs arise
  • In reforming the funding of social care, the Government should review the scope for improving the integration of adult social care with other services in the wider care and support system.

The four situations: a framework for responding to concerns of adult abuse

R. Ingram

Journal of Adult Protection, vol. 13, no.2, 2011, p. 79-86

Current national guidance requires local authorities to work with partner agencies to develop multi-agency responses to address all forms of abuse of vulnerable adults in any setting. This paper describes the framework that has been developed and used to underpin multi-agency safeguarding work in two local authority areas in West Yorkshire. The four situations framework has been successfully used: 1) as the foundation of multi-agency safeguarding adults procedures; 2) for training staff and enabling organisations to understand their roles in different adult protection situations; 3) as a practical tool for making decisions about how to coordinate specific multi-agency safeguarding risk assessments and to deliver safeguarding plans for individuals; and 4) to identify gaps in the 'net of safety'.

Is social care ripe for volunteering?

S. Gillen

Community Care, June 2nd 2011, p. 28-29

Volunteering has a long history in social care. However, there are concerns that the huge expansion proposed by the Coalition Government's Big Society plans at a time of public spending cuts could lead to volunteers being used to replace paid workers. This approach creates the risk of volunteers getting out of their depth and both service user and volunteer being exploited.

Social policy for social welfare professionals: tools for understanding, analysis and engagement

G. Simpson and S. Connor

Bristol: Policy Press, 2011

This book explores some of the difficulties and dilemmas faced by those who deliver welfare in a changing policy context. Using case studies and vignettes, this book seeks to develop an analytical skills-based approach to understanding the role and importance of social policy in social welfare practice, and will teach readers to understand, analyse and engage with policy.

Social work on trial: the Colwell Inquiry and the state of welfare

I. Butler and M. Drakeford

Bristol: Policy Press, 2011

The public inquiry that followed the death of Maria Colwell had profound implications for the developing profession and practice of social work in the UK. This book describes the local and national politics, professional concerns and public interest that surrounded the inquiry and its aftermath and shows how the concerns of this landmark child abuse case have still failed to find a satisfactory resolution today.

Social work under pressure: how to overcome stress, fatigue and burnout in the workplace

K. van Heugten

London: J. Kingsley, 2011

Stress, fatigue and burnout are serious problems in the social work profession. High case loads, staff shortages, budget cuts and the challenging nature of the job contribute to high levels of stress, and social workers can crack under the pressure. This book demonstrates how managers and practitioners can overcome workplace distress, fatigue and burnout by understanding the causes and implementing practical strategies. Part 1 outlines how stress, fatigue, burnout and trauma can be identified, how they impact upon social workers, and what strategies can help. Part 2 explores stress in particular settings, covering frontline practice, working with trauma, working with aggressive service users, bullying and violence in the workplace, and making mistakes. The book is rooted in the reality of everyday social work, incorporating the views and experiences of practising social workers.

Working with aggression and resistance in social work

B. Taylor (editor)

Exeter: Learning Matters, 2011

Social workers have roles that require them to engage with clients and families who may be reluctant clients, ambivalent or resistant towards those seeking to help and protect. This includes safeguarding roles in relation to children and vulnerable adults, and work to engage with marginalised groups such as young offenders and those with mental health and substance misuse problems. The text addresses issues in relation to the main client groups, and specific chapters give an overview of issues such as understanding and defusing aggressive behaviour and keeping yourself safe from assault.

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