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Measures being trialled to prevent ‘parental alienation’ feature penalties including permanent loss of contact with child

 Parental alienation is estimated to be present in 11%-15% of divorces involving children.
 Parental alienation is estimated to be present in 11%-15% of divorces involving children. Photograph: Alamy

Divorcing parents could be denied contact with their children if they try to turn them against their former partner, under a “groundbreaking” process being trialled by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass).

The phenomenon where one parent poisons their child against the other is known as parental alienation, the ultimate aim of which is to persuade the child to permanently exclude that parent from their life.

Cafcass said it had recently realised parental alienation occured in significant numbers of the 125,000 cases it dealt with each year.

Sarah Parsons, the assistant director of Cafcass, said: “We are increasingly recognising that parental alienation is a feature in many of our cases and have realised that it’s absolutely vital that we take the initiative. Our new approach is groundbreaking.”

The new approach will initially give parents the chance to change their behaviour with the help of intense therapy. Alienating parents who do not respond will not be allowed to have their children live with them.

In addition, contact between the parent and child could be restricted or refused for a number of months. In the most extreme cases, the alienating parent will be permanently banned from any contact with their child.

Parental alienation is estimated to be present in 11%-15% of divorces involving children, a figure thought to be increasing. Other research has found that about 1% of children and adolescents in North America experience parental alienation.

UK judges are increasingly recognising the phenomenon. One wrote about a case where she was forced to transfer residence to re-establish a relationship between a child and an alienated parent. “I regard parental manipulation of children, of which I distressingly see an enormous amount, as exceptionally harmful,” she said in her summary.

Parental alienation occurs on a spectrum from mild to extreme, all of which can be extremely damaging to the children involved. Experts admit they are only now beginning to understand the range of ways it manifests itself.

Parsons said: “We have reached a much clearer position on parental alienation recently, which we want to send a very clear, strong message about.

“The current, popular view of parental alienation is highly polarised and doesn’t recognise this spectrum. We want to reclaim the centre ground and develop a more nuanced, sophisticated understanding of what’s going on.”

Parental alienation occurs almost exclusively when parents are separating or divorcing, particularly when legal action is involved. It is, however, different to the common acrimony between divorcing parents and is internationally recognised as a distinctive form of parental psychological abuse and family violence, undermining core principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN convention on the rights of the child.

In the US and Canada, “parenting coordinators” are ordered and supervised by courts to help restore relationships between parents and children identified as alienated. In Mexico and Brazil, alienating a child from a parent is a criminal act.

Until now, cases of parental alienation in the UK have relied on Cafcass caseworkers recognising incidents on a case-by-case basis. Many parents, however, say their experiences of alienation have been missed or compounded by the social work and family court system, often leading to permanent estrangement from their child.

From spring 2018, all frontline Cafcass caseworkers will be given a new set of guidelines called the high conflict pathway, which will itemise the steps social workers must take when dealing with cases of suspected alienation. The pathway will spell out exactly when children should be removed from the alienating parent and placed with the “target parent”.

The guidelines, which will also affect how cases are dealt with in family courts, were sent out at the beginning of this month to judges, lobby groups including Families Need Fathers, experts, doctors and lawyers for a three-month consultation.

Alongside the guidelines, Cafcass has developed a 12-week intense programme called positive parenting, designed to help the abusive parent put themselves in their child’s position, and give them skills to break their patterns of behaviour.

A trial of it will start shortly, with 50 high-conflict families being sought across the country. After an evaluation in spring, the programme will be rolled out nationwide.

If it does not work, psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts will be brought in. If the alienating parent continues to perpetuate the abuse, however, contact with their child will be limited to supervised visits.

In extreme cases, care proceedings will be initiated and the parent will lose contact with their child. “Our priority, however, is to preserve the relationship with both parents,” Parsons said.

Jerry Karlin, the chair and managing trustee of Families Need Fathers, said Cafcass’s new approach was “very welcome news”.

“The demonising of a parent has long been recognised as damaging the child not only at the time of separation, but reaching into his or her adult life,” he said. “Parental alienation is identified as the single biggest issue among those who come to FNF seeking help.”

Case study – Robert (not his real name)

“I’ve lived through and witnessed the inexorable alienation of my older daughter over the past five years, which has culminated in complete loss of contact. I will not have seen or heard from her for three years this coming January. We had a fantastic, loving relationship for the first 12 years of her life.

“I know from what my younger daughter has told me that in numerous insidious and not so insidious ways, my ex-wife put an intolerable amount of stress on my eldest daughter. It eventually became too emotionally traumatic for her to see me. She eventually sent me a short email, saying she wanted to break off all contact with me. I’ve not heard from her since.

“The pain of being subject to parental alienation as a target parent is a truly soul-destroying thing to live through. In my darkest days, I can remember being out driving at night and thinking that maybe I just wouldn’t turn the wheel when I came to the bend with the high stone wall. This is a horrible form of child abuse that is struggling to get out from under the rock of prejudice and ignorance.”

 

Source : Divorcing parents could lose children if they try to turn them against partner : The Guardian

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Damian Green
 Plans for the consultation were announced in a written statement to parliament by Damian Green. Photograph: Hannah Mckay/Reuters

At last we have some details of the government’s long-awaited consultation on reform of long-term care. But let’s be clear: this will not be a social care green paper.

Plans for the consultation were announced on Thursday in a written statement to parliament by Damian Green, the first secretary of state. He did call it a green paper – something that had been in doubt – and said it would be published “by summer recess 2018”. Recess is likely to be late July.

It looks like its appearance will be more than a year, then, after the general election in June at which the Conservatives’ ideas for care funding reform were so disastrously mishandled, almost certainly contributing to the loss of their majority, and the subsequent Queen’s speech, which promised that the new government “will work to improve social care and will bring forward proposals for consultation”.

But this is a different prospectus than that implied by that pledge. In one sense, as Green said, it is broader than social care services and broader than funding alone: it will “incorporate the wider networks of support and services which help older people to live independently, including the crucial role of housing and the interaction with other public services”.

In another sense, however, it is far narrower. Care for younger adults, which accounts for almost half of all council spending on adult social care and includes the fastest growing element, learning disability, is to be excluded from the green paper. Instead, it will be reviewed by “a parallel programme of work” led jointly by the departments of health and communities and local government.

Given this, many sector bodies that had been stressing the central importance of having a green paper considering social care as a whole have been notably muted in their response. Even the usually vocal Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, representing not-for-profit providers of services for disabled people, has welcomed the announcement as “a step forward”, while cautioning that disability provision must not be sidelined.

Reaction on social media has been more robust. Calls for an all-age approach were supported even by some of those named as advisers on the green paper, while Victor Adebowale, the crossbench peer and chief executive of care provider Turning Point, simply tweeted #notgoodenough.

Other critics have pointed out that there is no care users’ or workers’ representation among the 12 experts, who will “provide advice and support engagement in advance of the green paper”. Trade union Unison branded this “a huge mistake”.

Carers’ groups were meanwhile left wondering what had happened to the carers’ strategy promised by the government in March 2016. It had been thought it might be rolled into the green paper, but Green’s statement made no mention of carers.

The accepting response of the sector establishment to the proposals is, no doubt, a reflection of relief that there is to be any kind of green paper at all. The focus on older people may finally point to a way forward on the vexed issue of care funding that has been becalmed in the muddy waters of politics since the Dilnot commission reported in 2011.

The 12 experts, ranging from statistician Sir Andrew Dilnot himself to Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, and Martha Lane Fox, the crossbench peer and dotcom businesswoman who seems to pop up on most government reviews, may also prove able to shape the consultation purposefully before it goes live next summer.

However, anyone with an interest in social care for younger adults will be left trusting that the “parallel programme of work” proves meaningful and that the sector stays in one piece. The spectre of the division of the former cradle-to-grave social services function into adult and children’s services in 2004 hangs heavy in the air.

Source : Government plans to reform England’s social care are an opportunity missed : The Guardian


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The impact of an individual complaint in improving care services for others is being highlighted in a new report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman’s Review of Adult Social Care Complaints reveals councils and care providers implemented more than 1,300 recommendations to put things right for people in 2016/17.

As well as putting things right for an individual, the Ombudsman makes recommendations to improve services for others by changing policies and procedures, training staff, or recommending a service be provided.

Within the Ombudsman’s 1,318 recommendations, councils and care providers made nearly 180 procedural changes and committed to train staff on nearly 50 occasions.

In some cases the result of a single investigation leads to the Ombudsman looking at injustices caused to people who haven’t complained. Examples of this over the past year include one person’s complaint about the way a council charged for care leading to more than 60 people, who had been similarly affected, receiving refunds.

In another case a couple complained about their council’s blanket policy to reduce the level of care it provided, and nearly 70 other families had their care reviewed following the Ombudsman’s investigation.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“I want to highlight the power that one person speaking up can have in changing services for the better for everyone.

“Our recommendations not only put things right for individuals, but aim to help councils and care providers avoid the same problems affecting others. Where we think a fault was caused by a procedural or policy issue, we recommend ways to review and change those practices.”

The report also welcomes the increase in complaints the Ombudsman has received about independent care providers. This reflects the growing importance the sector is placing on making the complaints process more visible and informing people of their rights to come to the Ombudsman.

Mr King also encouraged those organisations – both public and independently owned – where complaints were taken on board, and analysed, at the most senior level.

He said:

“Strong leadership in the sector is essential to foster a true learning culture from complaints. Good leaders will empower their staff to respond quickly and with confidence to customer concerns, and ensure the learning from complaints is actively owned at a cabinet or board level.

“When things do go wrong, it is those organisations with such strong leadership which are best placed to gain from the outcome of our investigations.”

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said:

“In a sector being squeezed in all directions, it is heartening to see providers being praised for making the role of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman better known and take a lead in learning from complaints, particularly in addressing self-funder complaints.

“It is right and proper that the sector works with the Ombudsman to create a more robust system where there is more confidence in care providers.”

Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said:

“This report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman reinforces how important it is for people, their families and carers, to experience good, safe care that is responsive to their individual needs.

“CQC’s own State of Care report highlights the critical role strong leadership has in delivering high quality care and bringing about improvement. Being open to feedback, acting appropriately on people’s complaints and actively seeking out ways to put things right are essential elements of this.

“I encourage providers to use this report to reflect on how they listen and learn from people’s experiences, concerns and complaints. If all services did this then the quality of care would be better for everyone which is what we all want to see.”

 

Source : Ombudsman highlights the power of complaints to improve social care : Care Industry News


The NHS is worth fighting for, for if it fails we will regress to pre 1948 facilities, where it was no money no life.

Govt Newspeak

A 94-year-old WWII veteran silences a TV studio with his harrowing two-minute account of life before the NHS [VIDEO]

Harry Leslie Smith is a 94-year-old veteran of World War II, and knew the hardship of life before the NHS. In an interview for the Russell Howard’s Good News show, his two-minute tale of the life and death of his disabled sister made the case for the NHS better than anyone.

From workhouse infirmary to paupers’ pit

Describing life before the NHS, Smith explains that only those with enough money could see a doctor or go to the hospital. Everyone else was at the mercy of “local cures”, which were useless against the most common diseases of the time, like tuberculosis. When his sister Marion contracted the disease, the family could not afford to get her medical treatment.

With Marion disabled by the disease, the family had no access to a wheelchair either, so they pushed her around in a cart made of bamboo. Smith remembers sharing the cart with…

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A new handbook on direct action, a national day of action on inclusive education, and a call for healthcare professionals to boycott disability benefit assessments were among campaign ideas suggested by disabled activists at a national conference.

The National Disabled People’s Summit saw up to 200 Deaf and disabled activists discussing ways to coordinate the fight against austerity and “reinvigorate” the disabled people’s movement.

Sean McGovern, co-chair of the TUC’s disabled workers’ committee, who chaired the event, said disabled people had not “passively” accepted the attack on their rights and services over the last nine years.

He told the conference that the aim of the event was to bring together Deaf and disabled people from the trade union movement, Deaf and disabled people’s organisations, and grassroots campaigns to “find ways to better pool our knowledge and experiences” and organise joint campaigning.

He said: “We are trying to get together to build our resources together… and hopefully stop fighting battles separately.”

A key part of the event saw disabled people take part in workshops aimed at producing ideas for future campaigning across areas such as accessible transport, inclusive education, independent living and social security.

Other workshops discussed how to develop those campaigns, for example through direct action and protests, trade union organising, and using the law and media.

The conference, at the headquarters of the National Education Union in central London, was funded by unions, and co-organised by the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance.

Among the ideas suggested were the need for a national strategy and set of principles describing the aims of the disabled people’s movement, and for a new handbook for direct action protests, which would take leads from the activists’ handbook developed by the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN) and the activist toolkit used by the US disabled people’s grassroots group ADAPT.

The conference heard that there was a need to “spread protest and direct action everywhere”.

Other workshops suggested the need for a national education service that is “inclusive from the top to the bottom”, and called for a national day of action that highlights both the “good things that are happening” in inclusive education and the “threats” it is facing.

On independent living, fears were raised about the reinstitutionalisation of disabled people, particularly concerns about the number of people with learning difficulties being forced into long-stay private hospitals.

There were also calls for a legal right to independent living through a free national independent living service, paid for from general taxation, and for “real choice and control, where disabled people are in control and not professionals or social workers”.

On accessible transport, ideas for campaigns included a focus on the importance of disabled passengers being able to “turn up and go”, which the summit heard was “gradually being phased out” by train companies.

On mental health, there was a call for recognition that all people “contribute to society even if not contributing to profit”, for an emphasis on the “social causes of mental distress”, and for unions “to be able to represent people both working and not working and recognise us all as members of the working class”.

Among the campaign ideas on social security was a challenge to nurses and doctors who are members of the Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association, and who carry out disability benefit assessments, to “down tools and not take part” in such testing for ethical reasons.

There were also objections to Labour’s “pause and fix” policy position on universal credit, with activists demanding instead that the line on the government’s new working-age benefits system should be to “stop and scrap” it.

On disability hate crime, there were calls for more to be done to challenge and report such offences and to pursue them with the authorities “because we need charges, convictions and sentencing in order to make people confident to go down this path”.

There was also a call to “find allies in the police, Crown Prosecution Service and local authorities and elsewhere and work with them”, and to develop allies and alliances across different equality strands and build on their past successes, for example in combatting race hate crime.

Other workshops produced calls for international solidarity with disabled migrants and refugees and disabled people facing starvation in other countries; and the need for better training for union representatives, so they can provide improved support for disabled employees.

There was a recognition that cuts to jobs and services mean people are “having to work harder and faster in much more difficult conditions”; a call for regular disability arts protests; and for attention to be paid to the barriers faced by disabled people who are “intersectional”, such as black disabled women, or gay disabled men.

And there was a call for a new hub where disabled people and their organisations could share information and resources, for example on benefit assessments and appeals, as a way of taking action to “increase our knowledge of our rights, but equally importantly how we use that knowledge in our lives”, such as in day-to-day communication with social workers or service-providers or in “big strategic legal action cases”.

Ideas that came out of the workshops will now be collated and worked into a report to be published in the next few months.

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 

Source : Summit hears calls on direct action, assessment boycotts and hate crime : DisabledGo News


They say the House of Lords is irrelevant in this day and age and should be abolished. Then some Lords raise this situation with regards to dyslexia, could this be a significant point for its retention in some form.

Same Difference

Assessments for dyslexic students claiming disability allowances should be reviewed, peers have said.

The issue was raised by Lord Addington, who is president of the British Dyslexia Association.

He said it was unfair dyslexic students had to pay up to £600 to have their condition reassessed to claim the disabled students’ allowance at university.

Education Minister Lord Agnew agreed the system should be reviewed.

Disabled university students can claim an allowance to cover extra costs because of their illness such as specialist equipment or a non-medical helper.

Lord Addington asked what justification there was for dyslexic students to be reassessed to get help at university when they had already been diagnosed and received assistance at school.

For other disabilities and mental health conditions, a letter from a doctor is sufficient to prove eligibility.

However, for dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties, such as Dyspraxia and ADHD, a “diagnostic assessment” from…

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Until everyone accepts that abuse is never acceptable then abusive situations will continue to occur. In a physical action of abuse then any associated injuries are more likely to be noticed, but with verbal, written and on-live abusive situations then injuries could well be invisible, but injuries there will be and in some instances some injuries which there may never be a recovery from.

The actions taken against all abusers should be effective and fit the crime to ensure all prospective abusers know what to expect if they start or continue to be abusive.

But many conduct themselves in accordance with the Children’s Nursery Rhyme ‘Sticks and Stones’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sticks_and_Stones) ending as ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me.’, but in reality this is far from the truth as words can and in many instances are worse than ‘sticks and stones’ , for broken bones can be mended in time, but not necessarily the invisible ‘hurt from ‘words’.

Verbal and on-line abuse needs to be taken more seriously and all areas where this can occur need to deal with it more effectively, be they employers, retail venues, schools, churches and all other areas.

Govt Newspeak

If Poundland cared about what happened in their stores, they wouldn’t be abusing the jobless by making them work for nothing – Govt Newspeak


Finsbury Park Poundland attack: ‘Staff did nothing to help abused disabled woman’

Image result for images of poundland

A BARGAIN chain store has come under fire after one shopper witnessed a disabled woman get attacked while staff did nothing to help.

Journalist Katharine Quarmby was in Poundland in Finsbury Park last Friday when she saw a mother with a pushchair shouting abuse at a disabled woman.

“I think there was an argument about who was first in the queue for the till,” said Ms Quarmby. “The mum started abusing the woman and told her to lose weight and saying stuff which was unacceptable. It culminated in the woman having to say ‘please stop I’m disabled’. She had a catheter attached to the shopping trolley.”

Ms Quarmby, who works pro bono at the…

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Disabled people aged 18-64 make up a third of all social care users, yet they are not getting the support they need

Young man with crutches sitting on hospital chairs

For too long, discussions on social care have overlooked those who need care and support earlier in life. Photograph: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

There’s no doubt that one of the biggest challenges facing Britain is how we deal with our ageing population. The countless warnings about the crisis in social care leave no room for doubt. Over the last seven years, budgets have decreased by more than £6bn (pdf) in real terms, and more than 1.2 million older people are struggling to get by without proper care.

The government’s promise to consult on social care in England provides an opportunity to bring about change. But for too long, this debate has almost exclusively focused on older people, overlooking those who need care and support much earlier in life.

More than 280,000 working age disabled adults rely on social care to lead independent, healthy lives. When done right, it empowers them not just to live, but to have a life.

At the MS Society, our new report, End the Care Crisis: Stories from people affected by MS in Englanddemonstrates the transformative impact social care can have for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). From Edith, whose support enables her to get to work each morning, to Martyn who, with the support of a carer, is able to do things others might take for granted, like go to the cinema.

It also highlights the devastating consequences when people aren’t able to get adequate support. Take Angela, for example. At just 35 with two young children, her husband (and carer) is at breaking point. And yet the first time she contacted the council for support, she was told help was only given to people in wheelchairs.

The system continues to fail us, and that is totally unacceptable.

Disabled people aged 18-64 make up a third of long-term social care users, accounting for almost half of the social care budget. We already know that younger people with MS are less likely to get proper support – only 32% of 18- to 29-year-olds with MS have all their care needs met, compared with 73% of those aged 70 to 79. But this isn’t the only thing illustrating the age divide.

Perhaps one of the most worrying symptoms of our failing social care system is the number of younger adults living in care homes for older people. A Freedom of Information request by the MS Society revealed more than 3,300 adults under 65 are in this situation in England. This indicates that, across the country, almost one in seven younger disabled adults in residential care could be in homes with mostly older people, and potentially missing out on the specialist care they need.

Not only are care homes for older people rarely equipped to meet all the needs of younger adults, living in such settings can be extremely isolating, and have a damaging impact on their quality of life and mental health. This is just one example of a much broader, deep-seated problem.

As a country, we do not provide younger adults with conditions such as MS the care we know they need. The question of how we fund and deliver quality social care has been a subject of debate in this country for at least 20 years. We’ve seen 10 government consultations and reviews of social care in that time, yet our politicians have failed to make the difficult decisions on the back of these.

Social care remains in crisis and there will be a £2.5bn funding gap by the end of the decade. While it’s promising that the government last month finally acknowledged the need to improve social care for younger as well as older people, we must hold it to account on this.

There is increasing evidence that fixing the social care system makes sense – not just ethically and morally but financially too. Reform could help prevent and delay acute needs from developing, reduce pressure on the NHS, galvanise local economies and, most importantly, enable disabled people to live independent, dignified and productive lives.

This latest consultation has to involve disabled people of all ages, offering real action and a bold vision for the future. One that recognises the experiences of everyone who depends on social care, and finally gives us a system that works for all who need it.

Michelle Mitchell is chief executive of the MS Society

 

Source: We can’t fix social care if we think it’s just for older people : The Guardian


Govt Newspeak

Too little attention has been paid to the additional burden this “reform” will place on self-employed workers, argues CHARLOTTE HUGHES

SELF-EMPLOYED people have always been regarded as the backbone of the British economy, with an approximate 4.7 million self-employed workers registered in the first part of 2016.
Self-employment has helped give people employment opportunities otherwise unavailable to them and part-time self-employed work accounts for more than half of the growth of all employment.
Self-employed people work long hours, preparing for work, submitting work and generally keeping their business running.
Many work by themselves or are sole traders and therefore have no-one to help them, making the hours that they work long and laborious.
Many also work for below the minimum wage and have to rely upon working tax credits to top up their income.
A steady income cannot be depended on as work is often seasonal, paid upon commission etc…

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Govt Newspeak

Labour’s Emma Dent Coad says devastating poverty is sparking return of preventable Victorian illnesses in UK’s richest area

Residents in the Grenfell Tower borough are suffering from tuberculosis and rickets, Kensington’s MP has warned in a shocking report on inequality affecting the UK’s richest local authority.

Labour’s Emma Dent Coad warned Victorian illnesses were returning due to devastating poverty levels affecting some of Kensington’s roughly 160,000 residents.

The damning report, titled “After Grenfell: Housing and Inequality in Kensington and Chelsea”, found multiple instances of children being admitted to hospital with hypocalceamic shock that caused them to collapse due to a lack of calcium.

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