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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2012): Social care - UK

Annual accountability hearing with the Care Quality Commission

Health Committee

London: TSO, 2012 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/12; HC 1430)

In the course of 2010-11 the level of inspections carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC ) fell by 70%. The Health Committee is extremely concerned that CQC's compliance activity fell to such low levels. It recognises that the CQC was obliged to work within the deadlines for registration imposed by the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010. It was in order to meet these deadlines that resources were diverted from compliance activity to registration. Yet the fact that this was done to the extent that inspections fell by an unacceptable 70% demonstrates a failure to manage resource and activity in line with the main statutory objective of the CQC to 'protect and promote the health, safety and welfare of people who use health and social care services'. In the current climate of financial constraint and reorganisation of the health service it is more important than ever to have a regulator that maintains a clear focus on its primary duties. The Committee concludes that the bias in the work of the CQC away from its core function of inspection and towards the essentially administrative task of registration represented a significant distortion of priorities.

Culture shock

R. Rayner, S. Volz and M. Swart

Professional Social Work, Feb. 2012, p. 18-19

Many overseas qualified social workers are now relocating to the UK. In this article three social workers who came to practice in the UK from abroad highlight the range of difficulties that overseas qualified staff have to overcome on both personal and professional levels. They hope that sharing their experiences will help employers and colleagues to be mindful of new workers' needs when they have relocated internationally.

Cuts to legal aid 'will put lives of women and children at risk

N. Lakhani

The Independent, Mar. 5th 2012, p. 6

Baroness Scotland said that the proposed changes to the way legal aid was given might endanger the lives of women and children who were the victims of violence. According to research conducted by the Rights of Women and Welsh Women's Aid, under the new rules half of all domestic-violence victims would not qualify for legal aid. The Ministry of Justice said that the Government was committed to helping victims of domestic abuse and they would continue to qualify for financial assistance.

Go your own way

S. Gillen

Professional Social Work, Jan. 2012, p. 14-15

More and more professionals in England, including social workers, are being encouraged by government to set up social enterprises to deliver services under contract. This article discusses the benefits and pitfalls of the model.

International social workers in England: factors influencing supply and demand

J. Moriarty and others

International Social Work, vol. 55, 2012, p. 169-184

The past 20 years have seen a substantial increase in the numbers of internationally trained social workers migrating to the UK. This expansion occurred at a time when there were shortages of UK trained social workers, accentuated by steep declines in the numbers of entrants into social work education. This article concludes that demographic changes and policy imperatives have accentuated structural issues, making it difficult to ensure an adequate supply of domestically trained social workers. It suggests that more cross-national research is needed to achieve a better understanding of the factors influencing social workers' decisions to migrate and the extent to which this reflects permanent or temporary moves between countries.

Joining the care dots

A. Moore

Public Finance, Mar. 2012, p. 28-31

Everyone believes that integrated health and social care has the power to resolve the problem of rising numbers of older adults with long-term health conditions. This article explores whether the Health and Social Care Bill will contribute positively to integration. There is widespread concern that the radical structural changes introduced by the Bill will in fact hinder progress. On the other hand, late revisions to the Bill have strengthened the role of health and wellbeing boards and beefed up the regulator Monitor's statutory power to impose integration of services on providers. The other danger to integration is squeezed and inadequate social care budgets, and progress on reform of social care funding has been painfully slow.

Managing suspected misuse of direct payments: messages for practice from the High Court

E. Mitchell

Journal of Integrated Care, vol. 20, 2012, p. 35-38

Through litigation friends, two disabled men brought claims in the High Court for a judicial review of their council's decisions in response to concerns about misuse of direct payments. The alleged misuse was not by the men themselves, but by two Trusts whose purpose was to provide care for the men. The High Court upheld the council's unilateral decisions to first make the direct payments to an independent broker instead of the Trusts and then to stop them altogether and replace them with a managed care service. However, this was an extreme case, and normally a far more inclusive and consultative approach to direct payments decision making is required.

New partnerships in health and social care for an era of public spending cuts

M. Larkin, E.-L. Richardson and J. Tabreman

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol. 20, 2012, p. 199-207

Partnerships have been used as a basis to set the current and future policy agenda for health and social care by the New Labour and Coalition governments. They can involve a broad range of services and the adoption of a variety of models depending on the nature of the collaboration that takes place. This article describes a framework for research partnerships between third sector organisations and universities. It was originally developed by a third sector organisation for carers and a university in 2009 with the aim of maximising the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of health and social care research in an era of public spending cuts. As each partner gradually formed several similar collaborations, it was developed into a general framework for research partnerships between third sector organisations and academic institutions.

Prevention of abuse: a brief review of the literature

A. Faulkner

Journal of Adult Protection, vol.14, 2012, p 35-38

This paper reports the results of a literature review on prevention of abuse of vulnerable adults, and identifies themes that emerge, with particular reference to personalisation and the views of service users. One of the dangers inherent in adult safeguarding practices is that of staff being overly risk averse, resulting in social care users feeling restricted. People reported wanting help to deal with potentially and actually abusive situations in their own way. Research has also suggested that risk enablement needs to be a core part of the self-directed support process, underpinned by person-centred practice promoting independence, choice and control. Risk enablement essentially means enabling people to define their own risks and to recognise, identify and report abuse, neglect and safeguarding issues.

The secret curriculum

M. Preston-Shoot

Ethics and Social Welfare, vol.6, 2012, p. 18-36

This article explores how students, practitioners and managers respond to practices that they consider to be ethically or legally dubious. Evidence exists of practitioners and managers knowingly departing from best practice, failing to challenge unlawful and/or unethical practice, and working within the confines imposed by their employers. This evidence puts into question whether those pursuing the reform of social work, in focusing on improving qualifying education, the first year in practice, and the 'health' of individual organisations, have really understood the barriers to improvement, have actually asked the right questions and been prepared to learn the appropriate lessons. A systematic approach to reform would need to consider the organisational and policy architecture within which practitioners work.

Social work practice in the criminal justice system

G. Patterson

London: Routledge, 2012

The criminal justice system, with its complex policies and procedures and its focus on deterrence, punishment, and rehabilitation, can be a difficult system to understand. This book presents an overview of the criminal justice system, exploring the network of systems which comprise it. Integrating social work values and a commitment to social justice, this textbook explores how social workers can address social problems within the criminal justice system and promotes the development of knowledge, skills and critical reflection in this increasingly important area of practice. In addition to covering the four key areas for social work practice - law enforcement, courts, corrections, and legislation - it covers:

  • Alternative programmes and services
  • Special populations - such as juveniles, women and sex offenders
  • Special topics - such as reoffending, wrongful conviction and racial disparities
  • The application of evidence-based practice principles in criminal justice.

The strange deaths of section 47

D. Hewitt

The Journal of Adult Protection, vol. 14, 2012, p. 39-48

The Law Commission recommended in its final report on adult social care law that Section 47 of the National Assistance Act 1948 should be repealed. In many circumstances, section 47 permits the compulsory removal to hospital of anyone who is seriously ill, living in squalor or not receiving proper care. The Commission concluded that it should be repealed because it is hard to interpret, difficult to implement, and seems to breach the European Convention on Human Rights. It said that other provisions, such as those in environmental health legislation, the Mental Health Act 1983, and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 provide a more appropriate means of caring for people in distress and that more information is needed before a decision can be taken about what, if anything, should replace section 47.

Working to help mental health

P. Fleischmann

Mental Health Today, Jan./Feb. 2012, p. 16-17

This article argues that there is much more that social work and social care employers could do to address mental health issues among the social care workforce. It points to sources of guidance on supporting people with mental health problems to gain and retain employment in the social care sector.

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