Archives for category: Social Services

A judge has dismissed a judicial review brought by national care provider body Care England against a local authority it said had breached its Care Act duties by setting fees too low.

Care England argued that Essex council had fixed the fees it offered to providers under a new commissioning framework at a level “significantly below their costs of care”.

It said this contravened section 5 of the Care Act, which stipulates local authorities must promote an efficient and effective care market and “have regard” to ensuring its sustainability.

The issue was highlighted last month by a report from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which found care home operators had been charging self-funding residents an average of 41% more than council-funded ones in order to remain solvent.

 

Source : ‘Care Act breach’ judicial review over provider fees dismissed : Community Care

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A young man with special educational needs has been left in short-stay accommodation for nearly two years because social workers in Lancashire could not decide where he should live permanently, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The man was placed in short-stay accommodation by Lancashire County Council after his family told social workers they were struggling to cope with his behaviour and the impact it was having on his younger siblings.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found the placement in January 2016 was only meant to be temporary, but the man is still living in the accommodation today. It is likely the man’s behaviour has deteriorated through not living in suitable accommodation and not receiving appropriate support.

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

“This man has been left in limbo in this accommodation, which by its very nature was only ever intended to be a short stay. He has missed out on vital support and development opportunities

 

Source: Disabled man left for two years in unsuitable short-stay accommodation let down by council | Care Industry News


This is not good news for the disabled and others on low incomes and just proves that you can not trust this Government. On coming into office as Prime Minister Theresa May promised that she would ‘place fairness and social justice at the heart of her premiership’. This we now see was an empty promise and further reduces the trust we all have with regards to our politicians.

At a time when Brexit is a major Government priority, social justice should be, at least, an equal footing.

It now appears that the plight of the disabled and others on low incomes will be made even worse than it is now. We have already seen the punitive cuts to welfare benefits and the assessment processes that are ‘not fit for purpose’.

At a time when our trust in politicians and this Government ,in particular, is extremely low, it is now to be reduced even further.

Does this Government really wish to remove disability and others on low incomes by causing their extinction, by creating conditions that will cause situations where their life survival cannot be maintained. Thus removing many from the welfare system, not by improving their quality of life, but by ending their life.

Source: Theresa May faces new crisis after mass walkout over social policy


Govt Newspeak

George Osborne after delivering his budget in March 2016.
 George Osborne after delivering his budget in March 2016. 

Here’s a shocking fact. Around 70,000 children go to school hungry in a city dripping with the world’s mostly unearned, undeserved, under-taxed obscene wealth. One in four parents in London worry about being able to feed their children.

Almost a fifth of families in the capital choose between heating their homes or feeding their children, according to the latest research by YouGov, with one in seven families relying on charities and food banks. Even if their children aren’t going hungry, a third of parents feel they can’t afford the healthier food they know they should have. Food charity the Felix Project says, “Hungry children are held back in their development – they don’t do as well at…

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A coalition representing 20% of the care sector for people with learning disabilities, Learning Disability Voices, is deeply disappointed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond remained silent on the crisis facing social care in today’s Budget statement.

The Chancellor stated his intention for Britain to be ‘a country fit for everyone’ and yet today’s Budget failed to mention an issue affecting many of the most vulnerable people in our society. The Budget did nothing to address the immediate funding gap the Government has created around ‘sleep-in’ shifts or the longer-term funding of vital services for people with learning disabilities.

Responding to the Budget statement
Tim Cooper, co-chair of Learning Disability Voices and CEO of charity providers United Response, said:

“The silence around social care and the Government-created sleep-in crisis is deeply troubling. This is a daily concern for many people working in the care sector and for many vulnerable citizens in the UK who rely on their care.

“The budget does nothing to reduce anxiety for people with the most complex needs, and those talented individuals who care for them. Our carers and the people we care for deserve better than complete silence from this Government.

“The Budget provided no relief for providers, local authorities and disabled people on personal budgets who are compelled to find the £400m to fund the back pay – despite the situation being created by the Government’s own failures.

“The sleep-in crisis is an existential threat to some social care providers, not to mention their staff and the vulnerable people we care for – a fact we have brought to the Government’s attention time and again.

“Government needs to stop ignoring the social care sector and provide the funding for the £400 million backpay bill now.

“Social care staff deserve better wages, and we are also calling for the Government to ensure that squeezed local authorities receive sufficient additional investment to pay for this.

“We now face the gravest challenge to social care that I have witnessed in my 30 years within the sector.”

Matthew Flinton, co-chair of Learning Disability Voices, said:

“Today the Chancellor has missed a crucial opportunity to address the imminent crisis facing the social care sector.”

 

Source :Budget 2017 fails to mention a sector on the brink of catastrophe says Learning Disability Voices : Care Industry News


Govt Newspeak

It’s a sad indictment of our society that in the run up to Christmas, many people feel the need to focus their charitable efforts on ensuring that children in the UK do not go hungry.

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The cumulative impact of austerity and the relentless rollout of Universal Credit mean that many children could face a Christmas which is Dickensian, in all the wrong ways.

Yet some people see Victorian times not as an era from which we have thankfully progressed, but as a source of inspiration as to how we can tackle the problems we face today.

In a recent article by Simon Lofthouse on the Tory Workers website, Modern Philanthropy, A Second Victorian Age of Altruism, philanthropy was advocated as, “the acceptable form of wealth distribution for the 21st Century; the radical free market response to today’s challenges.” The author claimed that, “In Victorian times, the wealthy used philanthropy very…

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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


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


Social workers need to understand and use research to provide effective support, but there are debates about how evidence should be used

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Photo: imageSource/REX/Shutterstock

Social workers need to understand and use research in practice if they are to provide effective help. The Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) says that social workers should “make use of research to inform practice” and the Knowledge and Skills Statement for child and family practitioners says they should “make use of the best evidence from research to… support families and protect children”.

This all sounds very simple – but evidence-based practice is more complicated than that. In a recently updated guide for Community Care Inform Children, David Wilkins covers how to use evidence to inform your practice, and different ways to find relevant information and stay up-to-date with research. In the following excerpt from the guide, he goes through what evidence-based practice is, and some of the key ideas and controversies around it. Inform subscribers can read the full, in-depth guide.

Evidence-based practice (EBP)

Lindsay (2007) explains EBP in simple terms:

it involves using the best evidence you have about the most effective care of individuals, using it with the person’s best interests in mind, to the best of your ability and in such a way that it is clear to others that you are doing it.”

Put like this, it is hard to see how anyone could dispute the value of EBP – but there are many who do and for understandable reasons, even if one might in the end disagree. Most of us would feel uneasy if our GP suggested a treatment based not on the best available evidence but because of their ‘gut feeling’ or an anecdote they were told by a more senior colleague. It seems equally obvious that social workers should have a good working knowledge of the issues they encounter and an evidence-informed understanding of the best ways to help.

It is unlikely that anyone really believes otherwise. However, there are debates and controversies about the nature of evidence and how it should be used. Those critical of EBP often argue it is based on a medical model of evidence and that applying this approach in social work creates more problems than it solves. Put simply, medical experiments establish whether a medicine works for a specific illness. But are social work interventions comparable to medicines? And are the issues encountered by social workers comparable with illnesses? The answer to both these questions must surely be ‘no’.

Socially defined issues

Firstly, the issues social workers deal with tend to be socially defined. Deciding a child is being abused is not the same as saying they have measles. The latter can be determined via an objective blood test, which gives the same result irrespective of who administers the test. The former involves not only defining ‘abuse’ but determining what should be done about it and different results are not only possibly but likely depending on who make the judgement and when. A critical view of these issues is essential, and this makes interpreting ‘evidence’ – and deciding what counts as ‘evidence’ – more complicated.

For instance, both cholera and child abuse are more common in poor families; cholera, because of a lack of access to clean water and good hygiene among poorer people in poorer countries. The link between child abuse and poverty is much more complicated. It may be because the stress and difficulty of living in poverty makes a minority of parents more likely to abuse their children but it could also be definitional, because we are more likely to label the parenting practices of poor families as ‘child abuse’ than those of more affluent families. Accepting ‘common sense’ definitions of abuse and applying ‘evidence-informed’ interventions without critical thought is not good social work. EBP cannot provide simple solutions to complex problems for there are none (Pitts, 2001).

Social workers need to understand the contribution of social causes to many of the issues they deal with. Experimental evidence, on the other hand, tends to individualise problems. For instance, The Family Nurse Partnership is targeted at pregnant women living in poverty. The intervention appears helpful for many (although not in every case; see below). However, there remains a fundamental mismatch between the presenting issue and the response. Poverty is not an individual problem. Yet, gathering evidence about ‘what works’ in response to social problems is difficult using experimental approaches (although not impossible, as recent experiments involving ‘basic income’ may yet demonstrate). Experimental methods often shift the focus on to individuals and ignore the social causes of problems. This should be anathema to social work, where we aim not only to improve individual welfare but also for social justice.

Social, not medical, interventions

Social workers work in situations in which social, psychological and biological factors interact in complex ways. Social interventions are much more complicated than medical ones. Although the Family Nurse Partnership does seem to help pregnant women living in poverty in the USA, the same is apparently not true for pregnant women living in poverty in the UK. This might be because universal services in the UK are more readily available than the USA. Whatever the explanation, these different results for the same intervention in different locations highlights the importance of critically examining not simply ‘the intervention’ but the social and economic context in which it was administered and for whom (Pawson and Tilley, 1997).

EBP can risk giving the impression – or even creating a situation – in which social workers ‘apply’ interventions to people, rather than working with people. This would run counter to social work values. This does not mean that EBP is irrelevant for social work but it does indicate the need for caution, to ensure we still work in partnership with people, rather than assuming ‘we know best’. Using EBP requires highly professional individuals with the skills, knowledge and institutional support to use evidence appropriately.

Finally, a more pragmatic criticism of EBP can be made in relation to the very limited evidence base for social work. While we have a plethora of high-quality descriptive research, there is little strong evidence for the effectiveness of specific ways of working. As a result, social workers often need to ‘borrow’ evidence from other settings and translate it into their own context.

Research

Lindsay, B (2007)
Understanding research and evidence-based practice
Exeter: Reflect Press

Pawson, R and Tilley, N (1997)
Realistic Evaluation
London: Sage

Pitts, J (2001)
Korrectional karaoke: New Labour and the zombification of youth justice
Youth Justice, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp3-16

 

 

Source : What is evidence-based practice? : Community Care


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

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